Doug Richard arrives at the Old Bailey on Wednesday A former Dragons’ Den star met up to 100 girls from a sugar daddy website for Fifty Shades of Grey “dominance and submission” role playing.
Millionaire Doug Richard, 57, was a member of the free-to-join “Seeking Arrangements” site, where he admits engaging in a Fifty Shades of Grey role play fantasy with an under-age girl he met on it.
Mr Richard, a former business adviser to David Cameron, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of having sex with and spanking the 13-year-old girl after she travelled to London with a friend to meet him in January last year.
Once inside the pre-booked £149 apartment, he asked the older girl if she wanted to be his slave before spanking her younger friend’s bare bottom, it is alleged.
The technology entrepreneur admits sexual activity did occur with the child, who was 5ft tall and weighed less than 6 stone, but claims it was consensual and he believed she was at least 16 at the time.
Giving evidence in his defence, the married father-of-three insisted he would never “knowingly have sex with a child” and he now felt “terrible” about what happened.
He told the court he had chatted to hundreds of young women almost every day for more than four years through the site.
He said: “As mortifying it is to say, I was looking for role play and fantasy relationships involving dominance and submission.”
Mr Richard told jurors that he kept his activities on the site secret for “obvious reasons “, adding: “It bothered me but I was also quite addicted to it.”
The entrepreneur first messaged the 13-year-old girl after being attracted by her profile describing herself as “submissive”.
He said: “It’s Fifty Shades of Grey-type stuff. I said ‘it seemed like we have something in common are you interested’ and she replied ‘yeah a lot, I’m extremely interested’.”
On her age, Mr Richard said: “You cannot sign up on the site unless you are 18. I just assumed and her profile said 18.”
Mr Richard, who quit the popular BBC show after failing to invest a penny in the second series, also insists any money that changed hands was to assist with travel expenses and not to secure the sexual services of either girl.
When they arranged to meet, Mr Richard told jurors he offered to pay for her train ticket and taxi fare but their relationship was never about money.
He said: “What we were talking about was what we wanted to do which was to have a Fifty Shades of Grey role play between us and that’s all we ever talked about.”
Sarah Elliott QC, defending, said: “There are four different sexual activities on the indictment. Do you accept those four sexual activities took place?”
Mr Richard replied: “Yes I do. They took place in the bedroom.”
He denied the girl ever appeared to be upset or hurt, saying: “This is all about role play and fantasy and having fun. If it’s not fun I would have stopped.”
On why he gave the two girls £120 as they parted, he explained: “I was trying to be very sugar daddy. It was a gift basically. I was trying to be nice so I gave them some money to go shopping.”
Mr Richard said his arrest days later was “as serious as anything that happened to me in my life”.
Asked how he felt about what happened now, he said: “I feel terrible. I feel terrible for her and I feel terrible about myself. I feel terrible for my wife and children.”
Ms Elliott asked: “If you had known at the time she was not above the age of consent, what would you have done?”
Mr Richard replied: “I would not have had anything to do with it.”
The defendant added that he was now trying to address his “addiction” with therapy.
He told the court that the reputation of his School for Startups business initiative which brought him into contact with the British Government had been “shattered”.
Mr Richard, of Islington, north London denies of three counts of sexual activity with a child, one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and a charge of paying for sexual services and the trial continues.