Guy Ritchie used furlough scheme to pay pub staff despite being worth £100million

LOADED Lock Stock director Guy Ritchie left taxpayers footing his bar bill by using furlough cash to pay staff, a Sun on Sunday probe reveals.

The pub owner, worth more than £100million, is one of several mega-rich stars and organisations using Government money to cover salaries — sparking fury from MPs.

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Others include celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, as well as steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who is worth £6.78billion.

Meanwhile, union Unite used the Chancellor’s furlough scheme to pay staff at its £100million hotel.

A charity which runs royal residences including Kensington Palace also received handouts.

Furious MPs last night said multi-millionaires such as Ritchie have enough money to pay staff in full, as musician Ed Sheeran did.

Tory Pauline Latham said: “When the scheme launched, the Chancellor was thinking of small to medium-sized business, not millionaire celebrities or wealthy unions.

“This is certainly not in the spirit of the scheme. Lots of firms have worked incredibly hard to keep all of their staff employed.

“So it’s unfair when these people and organisations could clearly afford to keep them on the payroll.

“They are doing it without looking at the bigger picture.”

Ritchie, 52, received a reported £59million in his 2008 divorce from pop star ex-wife Madonna.

Now married to Jacqui Ainsley-Ritchie, he owns a 1,000-acre estate in Wiltshire which last year quadrupled in value to £27million.

He also has a £10million home in central London plus a luxurious property in New York — and his last film, The Gentlemen, grossed £84million worldwide.

However, despite his vast wealth, Ritchie’s Fatboy Pub Company has furloughed some of its 19 staff, an analysis of Government documents by the Sun on Sunday reveals.


Ritchie set it up three years ago to run the Lore of the Land pub in Fitzrovia, central London, where customers can enjoy beer and venison from his country estate.

The firm recently posted losses of £457,000 and vowed to use as many Government-funded bailout schemes as possible.

A note in its most recent accounts, filed last October, says: “The Covid-19 global pandemic and Brexit are likely to have a significant impact on all business.

“The directors will ensure the company actions all available government assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic that they feel necessary to ensure the company remains financially stable.”

Ritchie is pals with David Beckham, whose wife Victoria furloughed her fashion firm staff last year before reversing the decision amid a public outcry.

His use of the furlough scheme — which has so far cost more than £50billion — contrasts starkly with fellow celebrity pub owner Ed Sheeran.

The 29-year-old musician last year refused Government help to subsidise staff wages at his Bertie Blossoms bar in West London.

Ritchie’s company is one of 740,000 on an official list of those which had used the Furlough Job Retention Scheme by December.

Another was Jamie Oliver Limited, which manages “literary creation” for the celebrity chef.

Oliver is said to have an estimated wealth of £240million despite the collapse of his restaurant business.

Jamie Oliver Limited employs 102 people and had an £18million turnover according to recent accounts.

It also paid a dividend of £2million to another of his companies.


Also claiming furlough money is Blackhorse HCC Limited, owned by union Unite. It was set up to operate its new four-star hotel and conference centre in Birmingham.

Last week firebrand leader Len McCluskey was forced to defend spiralling expenditure on the development, rising from £35million to £98million in five years.

He said one reason was because he instructed builders to “use only directly employed workers engaged on at least national pay rates”.

Billionaire Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, No 19 on the Sunday Times Rich List, also received Government help through his company ArcelorMittal.

Another on the state aid list was Optare Limited, a bus company owned by the £22billion-valued Hinduja family.

Taxpayers’ money has also gone to the Historic Royal Palaces charity, which runs Hampton Court, Tower of London, Kew Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle.

Another company on the list is Gordon Ramsay (Holdings) which manages the celebrity chef’s chain of restaurants.

We revealed last year it had sparked fury by furloughing some staff as they worked their notice.

The Government’s scheme — launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last March — pays 80 per cent of staff wages, capped at £2,400 a month.

It has proved a vital lifeline to many companies forced to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However some MPs questioned last night why Unite, which gave Labour £3million ahead of the last election, should benefit.

Tory David Morris said: “Questions should be asked if the furlough money is to be seen to be used in any way to prop up the Labour Party.”

ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel producer, last night revealed it was no longer using the Government’s furlough scheme.

A spokesman said: “ArcelorMittal employs approximately 200,000 people across its global operations of which approximately 500 are in the UK. The steel industry was hit hard by Covid with demand plunging.

"As we have said previously we are very grateful to many governments for providing financial support.”

Last night a spokesman for Unite said: “It is no secret the hospitality sector has been especially badly hit by lockdown and this includes Blackhorse, which, in common with the vast majority of hospitality businesses, cannot currently trade because the premises it manages cannot open.

“Tens of thousands of hospitality workers have lost their jobs and Unite was determined that we would not add to that toll.

"Unite can confirm Blackhorse’s furloughed workers are receiving 100 per cent of their wages, not the 80 per cent provided by the JRS.”

It added: “We call on other employers to do the same.”

Insiders said last night the Historic Royal Palaces’ finances were separate from the Royal Family’s and it relied on tourist numbers to boost coffers.

Representatives for Ritchie and Oliver failed to respond to requests for comment.

The furlough files

Guy Ritchie

WORTH: Estimated £109million.

PROPERTIES: A £10million Georgian home in London and a £9million country estate in Salisbury, Wilts.

BUSINESSES INCLUDE: The Gritchie Kitchen Company, Fatboy Pub Company Ltd, which owns pubs and restaurants, including the Lore of the Land in Fitzrovia, central London. He also owns film and TV production companies, a farming business and a hotel company.

OTHER: The film-maker has owned several top-of-the-range cars. Last year he was banned from the road for texting at the wheel of his luxury Range Rover. And in 2010, he had a £200,000 Rolls Royce Ghost delivered to the set of his second Sherlock Holmes film.

Jamie Oliver

WORTH: £240million.

PROPERTIES: £8.9million North London mansion, £6million Essex manor.

BUSINESSES INCLUDE: His company Jamie Oliver Holdings Ltd makes millions a year through royalties and endorsements and through TV shows, books and commercial deals.

Unite Union

WORTH: Unite’s assets were estimated to be up to £269million in 2018-2019. It is also estimated to make about £171million a year from memberships.

SALARIES: The union’s general secretary Len McCluskey reportedly earns £140,000 a year with pay and perks.

Lakshmi Mittal

WORTH: £6.78billion.

PROPERTIES: £57million property with 15 bedrooms in Kensington Palace Gardens, central London.

BUSINESSES: Indian steel magnate. Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, world’s largest steelmaking company.

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