Man held in Duncan Bannatyne business fraud probe

The finance director or Duncan Bannatyne's business group has been held in connection with a fraud investigation. Picture: Katie Lee

The finance director or Duncan Bannatyne's business group has been held in connection with a fraud investigation. Picture: Katie Lee

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THE finance director of Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne’s business group has been arrested in connection with an alleged multi-million pound fraud investigation.

The Darlington-based Bannatyne Group, which runs hotels, spas and health clubs across the UK, alerted detectives to what it says was a “serious financial matter”.

Police are understood to have arrested Christopher Paul Watson, 45, in connection with the inquiry on suspicion of fraud.

A company spokesman said: “The police are investigating a serious financial matter reported to them by the Bannatyne Group.

“We are grateful for their thoroughness and professionalism. We have no comment to make except to say that it does not affect the current operation of our successful business.”

Durham Police refused to comment.

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Earlier, the force told the Northern Echo: “We can confirm a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.

“The investigation involves an alleged multi-million pound fraud on a Darlington-based business. The man has been bailed pending further inquiries.”

The Bannatyne Group was established by the well known TV entrepreneur in 1996 and its portfolio includes four hotels and more than 60 health clubs across the UK with more than 180,000 members.

Bannatyne, 65, was born in Clydebank, in Scotland, and famously began his business empire with an ice-cream van he bought for £450.

He has been an ever-present on BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den since it began in 2005 but announced earlier this year that he is leaving the show due to other business commitments.

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