A former adviser to David Cameron and one of the original investors on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Doug Richard, 56, accompanied the Prime Minister on an official overseas trip to 2011 and has also advised the Chancellor, George Osborne.
The millionaire US-born businessman came to prominence as one of the original cast on the BBC’s popular entrepreneurial programme, but left in 2005 after failing to make a single investment in the entire second series.
According to the Sunday Mirror, Richard was questioned by City of London Police “on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual activity with a child, meeting a child following sexual grooming and rape of a girl under the age of consent”. He has been bailed until March 2015.
Richard has issued a strong denial in a statement through his lawyers, saying: “I absolutely deny the allegations made about me. It would be inappropriate to comment further given that the police are at a very early stage of their investigation.”
The businessman’s association with government goes back to at least 2007, including the establishment of his “School for Startups” alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2008.
He was later commissioned by Mr Cameron, then leader of the opposition, to conduct a review of Britain’s small businesses – later known as the Richard Report.
In November, he was named the new chancellor of Teeside University and was due to take over the role from Lord Sawyer of Darlington early this year.
Lord Sawyer said at the time: “I am sure that Doug Richard will be an outstanding Chancellor. He is influential and well known as an active business leader and successful entrepreneur. His national connections and ability to provide inspirational guidance and advice will be an asset to the University.”