The then chancellor’s loan scheme, set up as Covid hit, was supposed to keep dynamic startups going, but ended up giving taxpayer cash to long-established or lame-duck businesses

It was a dramatic implosion. Some of the biggest names in venture capital had poured cash into the company, believing it could become a giant of the money-spinning live events industry. Their dream evaporated when the events Pollen sold tickets for had to be cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Within weeks, another side to the story began to emerge.

Former staff told of its founders – young entrepreneur brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey – spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on parties where drugs were a common feature. One former employee said they remembered colleagues knocking back shots in the office on a weekday morning.

A spokesperson for Pollen countered that these tales were “grossly exaggerated”, and stressed that the pandemic, rather than the parties, were what capsized Pollen.



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