Former Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne has been criticised for his ‘abhorrent’ response to a disabled man who had inquired about a ‘swim only’ pass at one of his health clubs.
The tycoon, 69, who is worth £225million, was asked by Simon Ball, who has a muscle-wasting disease, whether he might consider the possibility of a ‘swim only pass’ at the Bannatyne Health Club in Rotherham.
He told the businessman: ‘I inquired about a swim only pass. I can’t use the gym as I have a muscle wasting disease. They [at the gym] said they can’t do that. Is this something you can look into?’
Responding to Mr Ball, the multimillionaire father-of-six, who has 839,000 followers on Twitter, said: ‘Sorry, we will not do that.’
Duncan Bannatyne, pictured with wife Nigora Whitehorn, was criticised for his response to one of his gym users who has a muscle-wasting disease
His terse response was met with criticism online with many accusing Mr Bannatyne of being ‘harsh’ and ‘savage’.
However some defended the entrepreneur and said he was entitled to make a business decision.
One Twitter user said: ‘Abhorrent response. Shame on you Mr Bannatyne.’
Another wrote: ‘You could have been a bit kinder in your response.’
One user said: ‘Wow. Savage. Good to see you cater for people with disabilities.’
Lucy Hale said: ‘Sorry Duncan this is a joke. One, it is another customer for you and two, you would be helping him. Really bring yourself back to reality from your high and mighty lifestyle and see it from your customers’ points of view. No one is better than anyone else…you had to start somewhere.’
Jody Lewis said: ‘You should be more compassionate. You never know when an illness will come into your life and change everything you’ve ever done before.’
Ian Lambert said: ‘Seems a bit harsh on a guy with his personal circumstances? Can’t you make the odd exception for a person like that? He could do with a break.’
Mr Bannatyne was criticised by some because of his terse response to Mr Ball on Twitter
However others weighed in to defend the Scottish businessman.
Claire Maher said: ‘There is no disability discrimination here. He is saying his gym doesn’t do swim only memberships.’
Ben Dawson added: ‘You can’t change the whole system for one person…that’s not how business works.’
Stephen Baxter said: ‘I agree with that decision. Love the facilities and great staff too.’
Mr Bannatyne faced criticism by some on Twitter for his rather blunt response
Defending his stance, Mr Bannatyne explained how introducing a ‘swim only’ membership would leave them open to people expecting ‘gym only’ ones too.
He also denied claims that other health clubs offer them and said council run leisure centres are only able to do so because they are funded by the ‘deep pockets of the taxpayer’ and ‘don’t have to pay VAT to HMRC’.
The 69-year-old, who married Nigora Whitehorn, 37, last year, added: ‘It would be extremely unfair to our members, who pay for full use of our facilities, to offer swim only memberships, which would potentially overcrowd the pools at peak times.
‘Our memberships are very good value and often prove much cheaper than using a local council pool on a regular basis.’
However some defended the entrepreneur and said there was ‘no disability discrimination’