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Duncan Bannatyne's former finance director charged with fraud and money laundering

Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne at a charity event in 2013. His former finance director has now been charged with fraud and money laundering. Credit: PA

A finance director who worked for Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne's group of companies, which are based in Darlington, has been charged with fraud and money laundering totalling almost £8 million.

The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that Christopher Watson has been charged in relation to allegations of fraudulent activity between July 2008 and July 2014. The allegations are about electronic transfers from company accounts to his personal accounts and those of his own business.

Mr Watson is due to appear at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court, County Durham, later this month.

"These sums of money were allegedly used to gamble, settle personal debts, and to buy and renovate properties."

– Spokesperson, Crown Prosecution Service

Dragon's Den star to judge Sunderland pageant

Duncan Bannatyne is set to judge the final of Miss Sunderland Credit: Ian West/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne will be judging the final of a beauty pageant in Sunderland next month.

The millionaire entrepreneur will judge the final of Miss Sunderland on September 12.

Twenty-two girls from across the region are through to the final, which takes place at The Pullman on Whitburn Road.

Bannatyne taken to hospital

Duncan Bannatyne

Dragons' Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne was taken to hospital following a dizzy spell today.

The successful businessman who runs a chain of gyms and hotels tweeted a picture of himself at North Tees General Hospital in Stockton, Teesside, wearing a woolly hat.

After receiving treatment he said on Twitter: "Many thanks to North Tees Hospital for looking after me today."

Mr Bannatyne, the tough-talking business angel on the BBC show, was allowed home after he underwent tests.

A spokeswoman for the TV personality said: "He was taken to hospital following a dizzy spell and they have checked him over.

"He praised the hospital staff and he expects to be at his desk in the morning."

Last year Mr Bannatyne, 64, was rushed to hospital following a heart scare.

After an acrimonious divorce, he is selling his home on the exclusive Wynyard estate, in the countryside north west of Middlesbrough.

Duncan Bannatyne sells off his Dragon's Den in Durham

TV star Duncan Bannatyne is selling his own Dragon's Den for £875,000 following his divorce from his second wife.

The gym entrepreneur said he wants to start a "new chapter" in his life and is selling his five-bedroomed luxury home on the exclusive Wynyard development in County Durham.

Duncan Bannatyne is selling off his house in County Durham Credit: Suzan/Suzan/EMPICS Entertainment

The Californian-style property, with white exterior, boasts views over a golf course and has a large open kitchen with sofa, maple-floored lounge and an entrance hall with a double-height glazed apex.

Upstairs there is another living room and three of the bedrooms are en suite, with the master bedroom also boasting a dressing room.

Bannatyne has taken the decision to sell following the break-up of his marriage to second wife Joanne in December 2011.

In October he was taken to hospital with chest pains, although tests showed he had not suffered a heart attack.

He has not decided whether he will leave Wynyard or find somewhere else handy for his headquarters in Darlington.

He said: "I decided to sell as I am looking to start a new chapter in my life."

The house has been the venue for some great parties, he said, and a source of peace for him too.

"I love spending my time in the kitchen. I have a huge sofa in the kitchen, where I can kick off my shoes watch TV, cook or simply watch what's happening on the golf course, and it's a fabulous area and definitely my favourite part of the house,"** **he said.

"There is no hustle and bustle; when you have had hard day at the office you can come home and relax but equally should you want company you can always drop in on a neighbour for a coffee and catch up."

The house is for sale through estate agent Manners and Harrison.

Bannatyne is one of the stars of the hit BBC show Dragons' Den where business people pitch ideas to would-be investors.


Duncan Bannatyne's message from hospital

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