That’s what happened to actress Fiona Delany, one of the stars of the BBC One series Mrs Brown’s Boys. She was revealed in the so-called Paradise Papers to have been paid in a way that minimised the amount of tax she had to hand over.
No one has alleged she has done anything illegal or even close to illegal. All she’s done is what you might think any sensible person might want to do: to pay only the amount of tax the law requires – probably on the (entirely appropriate) advice of her accountant.
But for doing that she was treated by BBC reporter Richard Bilton this week as if she was some sort of hardened criminal.
Mr Bilton doorstepped Mrs Delany as she was about to enter a building to film another episode of the show. She was visibly shocked and disturbed at the treatment meted out to her.
There has understandably been much fascination with the 13.4 million leaked documents showing the tax arrangements of the rich and famous revealed by the Paradise Papers. Which of us doesn’t like to poke our noses into other people’s business?
But there has also been an astonishing degree of hypocrisy – and, beyond that, the kind of “soak the rich” antagonism that should cause anyone who cares about our prosperity and future as a nation that values wealth and its creators to worry. Because it plays straight to the narrative that underlies the Corbynite hard-Left’s attempt to win power: that capitalism has failed us and the poor can only be liberated by destroying the better-off.
Take the headlines about the Queen. “Revealed: Queen’s private estate invested millions of pounds offshore” screamed The Guardian. The paper “revealed” that Her Majesty “through the Duchy of Lancaster has held and still holds investments via funds that have put money into an array of businesses, including the off-licence chain Threshers and the retailer BrightHouse, which has been criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families and vulnerable people”.
It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so idiotic. According to the innuendo, the Queen is some kind of tax-dodger. In 2004 and 2005 her Duchy of Lancaster estate invested £10million in two funds in Bermuda and Cayman. In 2007 the Cayman fund also invested $450,000 in a number of retailers, including BrightHouse.
Fascinating, I’m sure. But here’s the problem: how can the Queen be a tax-dodger when she doesn’t have to pay a single penny in tax?
Indeed she is the very opposite of a tax-dodger. She is the only person in the country who entirely voluntarily hands money over to the HMRC (her own HMRC, that is, the clue is in the words Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), which she has chosen to do since 1992. As for the shocking investment in BrightHouse: have a guess at the amount involved. The sum total is £3,208. Abdicate!
The BBC’s report said that there “is nothing illegal in the investments and no suggestion that the Queen is avoiding tax but questions may be asked about whether the monarch should be investing offshore”.
Are they really suggesting it is inappropriate for the Queen to hold investments anywhere except Britain? What about Bermuda or the Cayman Islands where, er, she is their head of state? She’s not allowed to invest in her own territories?
As for the phrase “offshore”: it is essentially meaningless. Britain is “offshore” for anyone who isn’t in Britain. One of the secrets of our economic success in recent decades is that we are an attractive place to invest money – offshore, that is, for the rest of the world.
If investing offshore is so appalling for the Queen, presumably it is for everyone else too – which means, from the perspective of Britain, everyone else on Earth except for us. Which means an end to all foreign investment in the UK. Then there is the hypocrisy of the reaction. According to Jeremy Corbyn anyone putting money into tax havens should “apologise”. As the Guido Fawkes website pointed out: the Labour Party rents its HQ via a tax exempt property fund based in Jersey. Nothing wrong with that, it’s completely legal.
But it certainly exposes the hypocrisy of Mr Corbyn’s attack on everyone else who manages their affairs efficiently. And we also know that shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s own pension fund is managed in Guernsey.
But the gold medal for hypocrisy surely lies with The Guardian, which published the Paradise Papers and fulminated against people taking advantage of laws to minimise their taxes. Without mentioning, of course, The Guardian‘s own “GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited”, which is based in the Caymans – to minimise its tax payments.
The real issue with the Paradise Papers is that it plays to the Corbynite gallery, giving supposed credence to the idea that the wealthy are engaged in some sort of conspiracy to do down the rest of us. It is depressing how this farrago of nothingness has been lapped up by people who really should know better. Depressing – and worrying as it adds more fuel to the Corbynite fire.
News source: Express