A HIGH-PROFILE businessman has been discovered to be bankrupt – while heading up the town’s main business forum.

Rikki Hunt, the entrepreneur behind blundering wi-fi firm Digital City, filed for bankruptcy in March owing more £1m to various businesses and the taxman.

But a number of those close to him were unaware of this, and Mr Hunt has continued to sit as chairman of the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership.

The body regularly brings big-name employers together to debate business issues and pass concerns on to the council.

The Labour party has been quick to call for him to stand down as its chairman.

Leader Jim Grant (Lab, Western), said in a statement: “Following the news of his bankruptcy, I am calling on Mr Hunt to do the decent thing and stand down in his role as SSEP chair.”

Mr Hunt, 57, of Old Town, said: “There is nothing wrong (in chairing the SSEP). But I recognise that if it is embarrassing to businesses and/or the council, then I would step down from this voluntary position.”

He filed the petition for bankruptcy on March 8, but stressed that it had been voluntary.

He is understood to owe a total of £1.31m, including £85,000 to Barclays Bank, £423,000 to HMRC, £627,000 to The Mortgage Business Plc, £168,000 to Lloyds Banking Group – and £63 to Sky.

Mr Hunt said he lost money in an “investment”.

Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw and Nine Elms), a fellow director of Digital City who heads up regeneration for the Tory cabinet, said he had no idea about the bankruptcy.

Nor did Ian Piper, the head of Forward Swindon, the council’s regeneration wing, which is involved in the SSEP.

Emma Faramarzi, chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, sits on the SSEP board and was “shocked” at the news, but said Mr Hunt remained an “asset”.