On top of Britain’s biggest drink-drive penalty, the disgraced Geordie star, half of Ant and Dec, was also banned from the road for 20 months. The staggering fine was issued after the court took into consideration McPartlin’s £130,000-a-week earnings – an annual salary of £6.76million.
McPartlin, 42, told how he was “ashamed and mortified” after smashing into two cars while more than twice the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to a single charge of drink-driving.
Defending barrister, Liam Walker, told the hearing at Wimbledon magistrates court in south-west London his client had been seeking help for “alcohol and emotional issues” at the time of the crash.
McPartlin, he said, had suffered a “brief relapse” in his treatment. He added: “Anthony McPartlin is sorry. He is doing everything he can to ensure that this never happens again.”
McPartlin – one half of Britain’s most popular TV duo Ant and Dec – had been battling to come to terms with the collapse of his 11-year-marriage to make-up artist Lisa Armstrong.
Ant McPartlin pleaded guilty to drink driving at Wimbledon Magistrates Court
High standards are expected of me, I expect them of myself. I’ve let myself down, I let a lot of people down. And for that I am truly sorry.
He went on a secret binge “unbeknown” to his mother Christine Woodall, who was a passenger in his special edition Mini Cooper when he crashed in Mortlake, south-west London on March 18, said Mr Walker.
In the days after the crash, McPartlin checked into a private London hospital that specialises in treating mental health problems and addictions.
The court heard the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! host now hopes he “might be forgiven by all the people he feels he has let down so terribly”.
But sentencing McPartlin, who stood in the dock behind inch-thick glass during the hour-long hearing, District Judge Barbara Barnes told him: “It will have quite an impact on you to know you are no longer a man of good character.”
Minutes later the gaunt-looking star, dressed in a black three-piece suit, said outside court: “I just want to say I’m truly sorry for what happened. High standards are expected of me, I expect them of myself. I’ve let myself down, I let a lot of people down. And for that I am truly sorry.
“I’d like to apologise to everybody involved and I’m just thankful no one was seriously hurt.”
He is now likely to face compensation claims from the two families who suffered after the crash. And his career may be dealt a further blow. His conviction could lead to him being denied a visa to travel and work in countries including America.
The court heard McPartlin, of nearby Chiswick, rounded a bend at “tremendous speed” before his car smashed into a second Mini coming from the opposite direction and then careered into a BMW driven by a woman doctor.
Ant was given the biggest drink-driving fine in UK history
The doctor said McPartlin’s car had gone round the corner “like a rocket” and left her nine-year-old son screaming: “I’m dying mummy. I’m dying.” The court heard the boy was badly shaken and left in a state of shock but was unhurt, while his mother had been unable to return to work since the accident because of stress.
Mini driver Faheem Vanoo told how he had to take emergency action to avoid a head-on smash. The restaurant boss was heading to work with his chef wife Shilpa and daughter Amaira, four.
In a statement Mr Vanoo said: “We believed we could have died as a result of Mr McPartlin’s reckless driving.”
Tests showed the star had 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes. He declined to comment when questioned by police.
Ant’s immediate future is uncertain after he checked into rehab after the crash
Three days later he returned to the station where he handed officers a statement which read: “I accept full culpability for this and wish to apologise to all concerned.” It ended: “I am addressing what I now recognise as problems with alcohol and emotional issues.”
After being charged, McPartlin’s co-host of ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway – and TV partner of almost 30 years – Declan Donnelly presented the final two episodes on his own. McPartlin appeared alongside Donnelly on TV screens over the weekend as Britain’s Got Talent aired its pre-recorded audition shows.
But ITV confirmed Donnelly will be hosting the live shows without his partner.
McPartlin’s troubles are said to have started last summer when he spent two months in rehab after struggling with an addiction to painkillers and alcohol.
Will Ant and Dec retain their TV glory?
It remains to be seen if Ant and Dec will recover as a double act
YES – Jack Teague, Day and Night editor
HE might have been issued with the largest ever fine for drink-driving and given a 20-month ban – but the country’s most-loved double act since Morecambe and Wise can still survive this. Some of us like a drink and a fair few of us have done a few silly things we shouldn’t have.
This is what I see as being Ant’s saving grace. Despite being two times over the legal limit, he voluntarily went straight into rehab and will no doubt have returned there following the court case.
While sidekick Dec has soldiered on solo with presenting duties in the interim the nation have only ever known and loved them as a twosome.
Upon leaving court Ant said: “I’ve let myself down, I let a lot of people down. And for that I am truly sorry.”
Providing he is true to his word, I see no reason his star won’t rise again.
NO – Hayley Smith, Boxed Out PR Director
Ant and Dec together will always have pulling power and still have the full support from the public. However, the longer Ant is away, the more used to seeing Dec present alone or with other people the public will be.
I also think Dec has the full support of the public and we want him to succeed solo. He doesn’t deserve to fall from grace. But there are lots of different factors built into it regarding contract and endorsement terms, whether Ant and Dec will want to get back together or continue solo journeys, and what the public will want, which really is the main factor.
The public are forgiving but they are not patient and if Dec continues to do a good job solo, this is what will cause demand and Ant may find it hard to catch back up again.
But it really is to be seen and the response they get when it comes to that bridge.