THE head of a company linked with senior Tory minister Alister Jack has said they have never met or spoken after it was revealed the company benefitted from a £2 million Covid loan during lockdown.

James Balfour, the chief executive of luxury London gym chain One Rebel, said that Jack’s share – valued at being worth more than £70,000 in his register of interests – amounts to only a 0.48% stake in the company.

Accounts filed in 2020 revealed that One Rebel drew on a £2m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to cover major losses caused by lockdown, when gyms were closed and people were advised to stay at home.

CBILS allowed companies to borrow up to £5m backed by the UK Government if they were able to prove their income had been cut by the pandemic.

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According to the company’s accounts, its turnover was halved in 2020 – down to £4.7m and the company posted a total loss of £2.8m.

One Rebel’s most recent shareholder list recorded Jack as holding 471,565 shares with voting rights in the company.

Balfour answered questions put by this paper over concerns raised that Jack’s political links could have contributed to the company receiving a support loan to cover their losses during the pandemic.

One Rebel was also facing questions over filing its annual accounts late. Balfour said the company had recently changed auditors and was working to an extended deadline.

The chief executive said Jack bought his share in the company during a major crowdfunding push in 2016. According to the firm Crowdcube, the platform the company used to raise the cash, One Rebel raised the fourth-highest sum on the website that year with £3m.  

Balfour told The National: “I have never met Alister Jack, I have never contacted him. Until this came up, quite frankly, I didn’t even know he was an investor.

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“He invested when we crowdfunded, so he was one of 600 investors – but much like those 600, I do not have an individual relationship with any of them.

“I have no contact with him at all.”

He added: “With the Covid loans, there were Bounce Back Loans, which I think there have been issues around fraud where there was hardly any due diligence – we did the CBILS loans, which we’ve been paying back diligently and consistently throughout.

“Again, I don’t think there’s anything untoward there.

“With regards to the filing of the accounts, simply put: we’ve been given an extension because we changed auditors this year and so we will have accounts filed within 30 days from here most likely.”

A spokesperson for Jack has previously denied the minister has any “involvement in the day-to-day running of the company” and said that the MP is “merely one of many shareholders”.