Dragon's Den star Douglas Richard cleared in child sex case

The reputation of his business had been shattered as a result of the case, he said

A former government adviser who appeared as a business guru on Dragons’ Den wept after he was cleared of child sex charges.

Douglas Richard, 57, accepted that he spanked and had sex with a 13-year-old whom he had met on a “sugar daddy” website, but said he believed her when she lied and said that she was aged 17.

The pair had shared intimate messages via the website Seeking Arrangement in which he had described himself as a “sugar daddy”, and the girl as a “sugar baby”. The girl had sent him naked photographs.

Mr Richard, who is married, told the Old Bailey during the trial that he had been seeking fantasy relationships involving dominance and submission but was now trying to address his addiction through therapy.

The reputation of his business – which had led to him being made an adviser to the Prime Minister – had been shattered as a result of the case, he said. “I feel terrible. I feel terrible for her and I feel terrible about myself. I feel terrible for my wife and children,” he told the jury.