Gary Barlow 'Should Not Give Back OBE' Says PM
The Prime Minister has said Gary Barlow should not have to give back his OBE after the Take That star invested in a tax avoidance scheme.
David Cameron, who last year publicly attacked the comedian Jimmy Carr for his involvement with a tax avoidance scheme, has said he does not think the singer should be forced to give back his OBE because of his work for charity.
The Prime Minister, who appeared with Conservative supporter Barlow during the 2010 General Election campaign, told Sky News: "I have said on the issue of Gary Barlow's OBE - where I think he was given that award for his services to music, his immense charity services with, for instance, Children in Need, the fact that he organised that fantastic concert for the Queen's Jubilee - he deserved his OBE, and I think he should keep it."
When asked why he had condemned Carr for being "morally wrong" but not Barlow, he said: "I have been very clear that I think that all of these aggressive tax avoidance schemes are wrong and people shouldn't take part in them.
"But it is not just what I have said, this Government has acted very vigorously to pass new laws, new regulations and to fight these court cases to make sure we deal with these aggressive avoidance schemes and make sure people pay their taxes properly."
Barlow and two other members of the band have refused to comment after it was disclosed they will have to pay tens of millions of pounds in tax after a court ruled a partnership they invested in was a tax avoidance scheme.
It triggered calls for the singer to hand back his honour, with Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, telling The Times he "might want to show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE".
Conservative Charlie Elphicke echoed Ms Hodge's comments, telling the newspaper: "People who have seriously abused the tax system should be stripped of their honours."
Along with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild, Barlow invested £66m in two partnerships that were styled as music industry investment schemes.
A total of 51 such partnerships set up by Icebreaker Management were to secure tax relief for members, Judge Colin Bishopp ruled.
HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment.
Two years ago when it was alleged Barlow, Donald, Owen and Wild invested at least £26m in an Icebreaker Management scheme, lawyers for the band insisted they believed the investments were legitimate and that all four named paid "significant tax".
In a statement released after the ruling, Icebreaker Management said: "Icebreaker Management is extremely disappointed with this decision since it puts a valuable source of funding for the UK's independent music industry in jeopardy.
"Icebreaker will review the full decision and consider all the LLPs' options including appeal."