Martin Jones, founder of Freedom Direct, the travel firm that collapsed last week leaving more than 10,000 holidaymakers facing an anxious wait to see if they have lost their bookings, borrowed £400,000 from the company's coffers last year to buy a new house.

Sources close to Freedom, which was based in Newcastle, said that while the move was legal, the value of the loan would likely have kept the company afloat long enough for a possible rescue deal to be tabled.

Confirming existence of the loan, Jones said: 'I'm not planning to run away from this. I shall be putting my house up for sale on Monday. I'm really sorry that things have turned out this way.'

Independent On Sunday