England

Ex-Dragons' Den star cleared of child sex offences

Doug Richard Image copyright Getty Images

Former star of Dragons' Den Doug Richard has been found not guilty of child sex offences.

Mr Richard, 57 contacted a 13-year-old girl through a "sugar daddy" website.

He admitted having sex with the girl but told the court he believed she was 17.

He was cleared of sexual activity with a child, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and paying for sexual services.

He exchanged messages with the 13-year-old after meeting her on the Seeking Arrangements website and went on to act out his fantasies when she travelled from her home in Norwich to London to meet him.

The American businessman, who once advised Prime Minister David Cameron, told jurors that at the time he believed she was an experienced 17-year-old and insisted he would never "knowingly" have sex with a child.

The court heard he gave the girl and a friend who accompanied her £60 each in cash, which Richard says was a "gift" and not payment for sex.

The court also heard that he made two £120 deposits into PayPal accounts to cover their travel expenses and pre-booked an apartment in London.

The jury was sent out at 11:00 GMT and took under four hours to reach a verdict.