DESPITE the fact it no longer exists, former Silsden restaurant Bonapartes is still hitting the headlines after celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was awarded damages this week.

Mr Ramsay and the makers of "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" accepted £75,000 damages over an allegation that the TV programme cynically faked scenes to make average restaurants look like public health hazards.

Columnist Victor Lewis-Smith alleged in the Evening Standard that the first programme, featuring Bonapartes of Silsden, had faked scenes and chef Tim Grey had been deliberately installed by the programme makers to look incompetent.

But the paper now accepted that there was no truth in the allegations. Mr Ramsay, holder of three Michelin stars, was at London's High Court on Tuesday for the settlement of his libel action over the column printed in November 2005.

His solicitor, Keith Schilling, told Mr Justice Eady that the article alleged the show drove some restaurants out of business.

It also alleged that the chef, together with Patricia Llewellyn, managing director of Optomen Television Ltd, and Optomen, were guilty of "gastronomic mendacity" by installing an incompetent chef and fabricating culinary disasters in order to wreck the reputation of Bonapartes.

The owner of Bonapartes at the time, Sue Ray, claimed the ridicule it received from the sharp-tongued chef caused the end of the business.

Miss Ray was declared bankrupt at the beginning of this year and now claims to live on benefits and has received counselling for depression.

When she admitted a charge of drink-driving earlier this year, her Skipton solicitor, John Mewies, claimed the show "painted a totally unrealistic and distorted picture of her business and the result was utter chaos and total financial disaster".

"All her work and endeavour went down the pan," he added.

This week her sister, Joanne Ray, of Denholme, said Miss Ray, 55, had now quit the UK to start a new life. She is staying at a friend's villa in Spain, but has a camper van with her and plans to stay with friends.

Joanne said: "I am just glad for her and that things are going OK. Last time I saw her she seemed a lot happier than she has been for the past year. Hopefully this is going to be a new start."

After his hearing, Mr Ramsay said: "Even I have limits and on this occasion the line was crossed. I am satisfied with today's apology and am looking forward to future series of Kitchen Nightmares."

And Ms Llewellyn added: "We are extremely happy with today's outcome. We pride ourselves on the programmes we produce. We felt an obligation to make a legal complaint when false allegations about one of our programmes were published."

Mr Schilling said Ramsay and Ms Llewellyn suffered a great deal of distress in respect of the article, which directly attacked their integrity and credibility.

He said Associated Newspapers and journalist Victor Lewis-Smith now understood and accepted that the allegations were untrue and that the Bonapartes programme portrayed an accurate picture of the restaurant and its operations.

He added: "No scenes had been faked, the kitchen was indeed untidy and a health hazard, the restaurant was already in financial difficulty before the programme was filmed and the chef was not installed by the claimants."

In fact, it was the chef who first contacted them in relation to participating in the programme.

Mr Schilling said the newspaper had agreed to publish an apology and pay a substantial sum in damages to each of the claimants, together with their legal costs.

The newspaper's counsel, Adam Cannon, apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused by the article, which they accepted was false.