Poor Duncan: Bannatyne in Twitter war with the Mail

Bannatyne's just had a pricey divorce, and after the Daily Mail claimed he is in £122m of debt, he has taken to Twitter to attack the 'untrue' story.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 09 Jul 2014

The average overdraft on ones current account is a sufficiently uncomfortable liability for most people, but try owing the Anglo Irish Bank £122m. Yes, one-hundred-and-twenty-two million pounds. That’s how much the Daily Mail claims Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne owes the collapsed bank. If it’s true, it decidedly takes him off his pedestal as the richest dragon on the show, and means he has crashed out of the Sunday Times Rich List.

But spare a thought for poor Duncan. To go from a net worth of £422m, being one of the UK’s top 1,000 earners and having would-be entrepreneurs practically begging for you help, to a multi-million pound debtor has an ever-so-slight whiff of hubris about it. And no one – least of all Duncan Bannatyne – likes the taste of humble pie. So why does he owe the millions? Apparently, he borrowed the cash back in 2006 to buy 24 health clubs from the Hilton Group – and add them to his own chain fitness outfits. 

The paper says he’s had to hire a team of eight legal and financial whizzes to help him get his affairs in order, and speaking to the Daily Mail, he said; ‘Everything else is on hold until I sort this out. It’s a very tense period for me at the moment and is taking up all my time. I have spent half a million pounds trying to sort my affairs out. That’s a lot of people to pay.’ What a headache, given that he has also only just completed a divorce from his second wife, Joanne McCue, who walked away with a multi-million pound settlement.

But don’t worry, Dunc is capable of fighting his corner and kicking up a fuss – he’s taken to Twitter to complain about his predicament. He said: ‘Amazingly the Irish government has turned down 100p in the pound for some of my companies debt. Why would any sane person do that?’ He claims he ‘offered a sum to reduce the debt but it has been refused’ – talks with his bank are obviously tense. 

It’s worth noting that the former ice-cream salesman and one-time actor is also claiming that the newspaper article is ‘completely untrue’, and that his 616,000 Twitter followers should ‘not believe a word they say’. But at the time of writing, coverage of Dunc’s plight remained online, suggesting it has been difficult for him to prove he’s flush with cash…

Whatever his protestations, the most damning thing for Bannatyne’s riposte is that the Rich List’s compiler, Philip Beresford, said: ‘When I looked at his accounts I could not find enough assets to justify his inclusion.’ Infer from that what you will, but it’s certainly a lesson in the siege mentality of failed Irish banks – don’t put yourself in their pockets or you’ll come a cropper.

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