Dragons in Row over 'Conf Lict of Interest'; Entrepreneur Claims Featured Chocolates Are Already for Sale at Bobby Kerr's Insomnia Counter

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 27, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Dragons in Row over 'Conf Lict of Interest'; Entrepreneur Claims Featured Chocolates Are Already for Sale at Bobby Kerr's Insomnia Counter


Byline: Cormac McQuinn

A CONTESTANT on RTE's hit series, Dragons' Den, has complained to the producers of the show over a 'conflict of interest' involving one of the dragons.

The row erupted after the woman noticed the product of a rival contestant, Issie's Handmade Chocolates, already on sale in dragon Bobby Kerr's Insomnia coffee shop chain - on the same day the show was filmed.

The Cork-made chocolates had been praised effusively on the programme, attracting particular support from dragon Niall O'Farrell.

Deirdre Raleigh faced the dragons on the same day, November 30, seeking investment for her website, reachateacher.ie, which helps students find grinds tutors.

But she was annoyed when, later in the evening, she spotted the chocolates that had just been plugged to hundreds of thousands of viewers already on sale on the counter of an Insomnia franchise in Dublin.

When Miss Raleigh complained in writing, the show's producers, Screentime Shinawil, denied any 'pre-existing relationship' and said there was no question of the programme being used to give a free plug to a product already being sold by one of the dragons.

They insisted the sale of the chocolates in an Insomnia outlet in a Spar convenience store was a 'coincidence' and that Mr Kerr was totally unaware the product was being sold there.

In correspondence seen by the Irish Mail on Sunday, Miss Raleigh complained: 'I was taken by complete surprise when I saw on the counter with prominent advertising the Issie Chocolate for sale.

'This product was at the Dragons' Den yesterday and apparently received investment.

'I am delighted for the girl involved but, to be honest, I felt very uneasy about the situation.

'I feel there is a conflict of interest here taking account of the fact that Bobby Kerr is so closely associated with Insomnia... there is a direct link with one of the dragons.' out to Screentime Shinawil's Jane Downes replied, saying: 'The Insomnia in question is part of another larger store. I think it is actually a Spar.

'Issy's [sic] chocolate is stocked in approximately 35 stores nationwide... and if one of them happens to have an Insomnia concession, this is just a coincidence'.

But Miss Raleigh replied, saying the chocolate was 'being sold by Insomnia... I am in absolutely no doubt about where the product was being sold... and am absolutely in no doubt that there is a conflict of interest here at the very least.'

Another Shinawil staffer, Doireann O'Hara, replied saying: 'The particular Insomnia is franchised out to Spar and is not run by Bobby.

All products stocked in Insomnia coffee must seek approval from Insomnia before they can be stocked.

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