Amanda Abbingdon and Martin FreemanAmanda Abbingdon and Martin Freeman

Amanda Abbingdon, the star of Mr Selfridge, has been declared bankrupt, over what is reportedly an unexpected tax bill. Abbingdon's debts are confidential. However, her 11-year-relationship with multi-millionaire actor Martin Freeman isn't.

So why doesn't he have to pay her debts?


The Daily Mail has reported that the 41-year-old actress was declared bankrupt in December last year under her birth name of Amanda Jane Smith. According to The Sun newspaper, the debt in question was a £120,000 tax bill.

She has had an insolvency specialist assigned to her case, but the newspapers reported that it had not yet assessed her wealth, or worked out what she can afford to pay off.

If she has any ownership of the £900,000 house she lives in with Freeman and their two children, then it may need to be sold in order to repay as much of her debt as possible. However, if it is in Freeman's name, then it wouldn't.

The rules

It seems peculiar that a couple can live together and share so much, and yet for one to be on a multi-million pound contract for The Hobbit, and the other to be bankrupt. However, the law is in complete support of this. In the UK (unlike the US) couples - including married couples - are not responsible for each other's debts.

The idea is that if one of the couple is profligate and the other is working hard to keep their head above water, it is wrong for both of the couple to suffer for it. It also enables one half of the couple to work on building a future, while the other is busy paying for their past.



Of course we can never tell what is going on behind the scenes for any couple - and their finances are nobody's business but their own.

However, if this was an unpaid tax bill, then in the final analysis the people who are missing out are the taxpayers. And it's only natural for them to wonder whether there might have been an outside chance that Freeman might have been in a position to help Abbingdon - rather than write the lot off.

These aren't the only celebrity couples where one has been declared bankrupt and the other continued to earn. Neil Hamilton was declared bankrupt in 2001 and was forced to sell his home. However, when they bought a £1 million home three years later, his wife Christine told the papers they could afford it because she was never declared bankrupt and had made a good living on the celebrity circuit.




More stories