BUSINESS tycoon, Mitch Branston, says there was a misunderstanding over reports he offered his exotic Caribbean retreat, Small Pecker Island, as collateral in exchange for a government loan.
Reports suggested he was offering the nature haven which serves visitors up a slice of paradise and abundance of rare wildlife in a luxury Balinese style villa with panoramic vistas of its sun-kissed beaches and sparkling Caribbean sea.
What he says he was actually offering was Canvey Island, in Essex, home of the pickled cockle, a council housing estate with views of oil refinery smokestacks on the murky Thames estuary.
Mr Branston needs the loan to make his dream of sending fee-paying passengers on his fleet of two (under construction) space cruisers to colonise the Epsilon Eridani star system next year (‘probably’), a reality.
And, he says Canvey Island is a better deal.
"To be honest, there are a lot of mosquitoes on Small Pecker Island," he said. "And you get tired of the sumptuous dining, diversity of natural habitat and beautiful servant staff on hand to pander to your every need."
He says the experience of Canvey offers more value.
"You have it all – aromas, cuisine, sights and wildlife. Imagine the smell of exotic weed wafting in the evening smog, while chewing a jellied eel and delighting upon tattooed claimants out walking their pit-bull terriers while quaffing from a can of Special Brew.”
"It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the local culture."
"Take part in a pub quiz - although watch out for that tricky first question: ‘What are you looking at?’"
"Or don a hoodie and go for a drive wearing your pound shop bling and fake tan. Don’t forget to turn the bass up full on that stereo."
"Yes, it’s more pitiless than paradise, more Sports Direct than Ralph Lauren, more ASBO than archipelago, but it has so much potential."
The government were unimpressed at the value of the equity offered in exchange for a loan of £271.50, and rejected this and a subsequent offer of the island plus two tickets ‘to the cosmos and beyond’.