Lily Allen has spoken out against the Take That singer-songwriter Gary Barlow in light of allegations that he and bandmates Howard Donald and Mark Owen invested in a tax avoidance scheme. Writing on Twitter on Monday (May 12), Lily - who is currently ill with food poisoning - said: "I dedicate my next sick to to you lot. #taxdodging... Can't get through to NHSDirect , no midwives in your area? Well at least the Queen got a nice birthday party/jubilee , whatever @GaryBarlow."
Lily Allen Has Criticised for Gary Barlow
Her comments are in stark contrast to those made by Prime Minister David Cameron who told ITV's Good Morning Britain that Barlow should be allowed to keep his OBE.
"Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country," he said. "He's raised money for charity, he's done very well for Children in Need so I'm not sure [he should be stripped of] his OBE in respect of the work he has done."
Barlow, Donald and Owen are amongst a group of 1,000 wealthy investors now facing large tax bills after a tribunal ruled that a partnership they invested in was a tax avoidance scheme. The members invested in Barlow's Larkdale LPP, one of 51 so called "ice breaker" partnerships. The trio are said to have invested £26 million.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: "We have put in place generous reliefs to support genuine business investment and our tax reliefs for the creative industries work well, enabling the UK's world-class film, television and video production companies to compete on the global stage. But we will not tolerate abuse of the system by people trying to dodge their tax obligations."
Gary Barlow Performing at the Hydro in Glasgow
However, the UK Head of Financial Planning of one of the world's largest independent financial advisory originations, deVere, said the whole furore is turning into a witch hunt. Kevin White notes, "deVere would not have advised its clients to become involved in a scheme of this nature, because, clearly, there are some definite grey areas here.
"However, the judge in this case has declared that the investors involved were part of a tax avoidance scheme. Let's be clear: tax avoidance is not a crime, tax avoidance is legal and can form part of a competent financial strategy. On the other hand, tax evasion is illegal and therefore punishable under the law."
He continued: "The furore surrounding Gary Barlow's tax affairs is misplaced. It is ludicrous to suggest, as it has been, that he was 'getting away with' not paying his taxes. You cannot 'get away with' something that is legal. Mr Barlow and others were attempting to legally mitigate their tax burden.
"Those who object to such schemes, instead of launching a witch-hunt against high profile individuals and/or companies to perhaps push their own agendas, should instead lobby MPs - who are the ones who have the powers to change this country's overly complex and sometimes ambiguous tax laws."