Colin McRae: £450k debt bankrupts former co-driver

Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash in 2007, along with his son and two other passengers. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash in 2007, along with his son and two other passengers. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE widow of former world rally champion Colin McRae had his former co-driver made bankrupt over a £450,000 debt.

Alison McRae took Colin Smith, a former close friend of the late rally ace, and his wife Irene, 48, to court after they failed to pay back cash she had loaned them.

Alison McRae, pictured in 2007. Picture: PA

Alison McRae, pictured in 2007. Picture: PA

Mrs McRae gave the Smiths money to invest in their property development business but it ran into severe financial difficulties.

The couple own a number of properties in Crossford, Lanarkshire, including Valley International Park and the Tillietudlem Inn, a bar and restaurant.

Their business C & N Properties Scotland went into administration in January with debts of more than £3.3 million.

Mrs McRae, 45, of Lanark, is owed £451,504 by the company.

At a hearing at Lanark Sheriff Court, she had the couple sequestrated over the outstanding debt.

The Smiths has asked for more time to pay the money back but their request was refused by Sheriff Nikola Stewart.

A trustee has now been appointed to take control of their finances and help pay off their creditors.

Mr Smith, 47, had been a close friend of Mr McRae since their school days in Lanark and acted as his navigator during his early races.

Mr McRae, 39, was killed when his helicopter crashed near the grounds of his home on 15 September, 2007.

His five-year-old son Johnny and his son’s friend, Ben Porcelli, aged six, also died, along with family friend Graeme Duncan, 37.

The Smiths fell behind on repayments after a loan they had taken out from the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank was taken over by investment firm Hadrian SARL.

Mrs McRae also applied to court to have their company wound up but Hadrian, who are owed £2.4 million, stepped into to have administrators appointed before the case was heard.

Mr Smith said: “This is just business. It’s what happens in business, a lot of people are affected at the moment.

“I don’t want to say anymore about it.”

Mrs McRae and her solicitors Bellwether Green refused to comment.

A source said: “This is a very sad situation for everyone involved.

“Colin had been a good friend of Colin McRae and was devastated by his death.

“Alison had helped out the Smiths by giving them a substantial amount of money but their business has suffered really badly in the last few years and they have been unable to repay her.”

In 2008, details of Mr McRae’s £8,371,975 fortune were revealed in his will.

Legal papers showed his estate in the UK was worth £5,537,104, and his overseas assets to be worth £2,834,871.

He left his entire estate to his wife.

Following the crash in 2007, Ben’s parents, Mark and Karen, accused Mr McRae of taking “unnecessary risks” after an official report criticised his flying and confirmed that he did not have a valid pilot’s licence.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that the cause of the accident was “not positively determined”.

However, a fatal accident inquiry found the crash happened because McRae carried out unnecessary low-level manoeuvres.


Colin McRae was flying crash helicopter unlawfully