CONSUMER champion Martin Lewis levelled criticism at Bournemouth-based company Amigo Loans in a row on Twitter yesterday.

The founder of the Money Saving Expert website sparked a debate with Amigo founder James Benamor by posting: “Feel slightly sick having just seen an Amigo loans ad saying ‘unlike others’ we’re affordable, at a long term 49.9 per cent APR. Things need 2 change.”

Mr Benamor, a multi-millionaire who has started several loan brokerage companies, replied: “Surprised to hear that Martin. Would love to meet you to chat about what we do.”

He also defended his company’s practices, saying: “Amigo is flexible, no charges only daily interest so can be used exactly as a payday loan, but around 100th of the APR” and: “Borrowing £500 for 12 months from Amigo costs £118, same as borrowing £500 from Wonga for 21 says.”

But Mr Lewis hit back with: “I know what u do. 50 per cent APR on longer term loans is awful. Comparing urself with the market’s dirtiest doesn’t make u clean.”

Father-of-five Mr Benamor, is CEO of Amigo Loans, which is based in the Triangle, Bournemouth. It lends, using guarantors, to small businesses and individuals who are struggling to get finance through traditional means. It has lent to more than 100,000 people and 20,000 small businesses.

He has previously stated that customers need to be re-educated to avoid payday lenders that charge exceptionally high interest rates and said that Amigo prided itself on its transparency.