Published on 12 May 2014 Sections , ,

Tax avoidance: ‘Barlow should not give back OBE’ – Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron rejects calls for singer Gary Barlow to hand back his OBE over claims the pop star invested in a tax avoidance scheme.

Margaret Hodge, Labour chair of the Commons public accounts committee said Mr Barlow, who has previously been seen on the campaign trail with Mr Cameron, “might want to show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE”.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke told the Times newspaper: “People who have seriously abused the tax system should be stripped of their honours.”

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But the prime minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I mean Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country, he has raised money for charity, he has done very well for Children in Need, so I’m not sure… the OBE is in respect of that work and what he has done.

“But clearly what this scheme was was wrong and it is right that they are going to have to pay back the money.”

Mr Cameron repeated his condemnation of “aggressive” tax avoidance schemes.

‘Aggressive tax avoidance’

“I am against these aggressive tax avoidance schemes but I am not just against them – this government has taken a huge amount of steps to legislate and toughen the laws and go after aggressive tax avoidance schemes for the very simple reason that if people go after these schemes and aggressively avoid tax they are making it the case that everyone else has to pay higher taxes as a result,” he said.

I mean Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country … so I’m not sure… the OBE is in respect of that work and what he has done. David Cameron

Mr Barlow and two other members of Take That refused to comment on reports over the weekend that they face having to pay tens of millions of pounds in tax after a court ruled a partnership in which they invested was a tax avoidance scheme.

The singer along with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild invested £66m into two partnerships styled as music industry investment schemes, according to reports.

Gary Barlow (Getty)

Diamond Jubilee concert

Judge Colin Bishop ruled that 51 partnerships set up by Icebreaker Management were to secure tax relief for members and HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment.

It was alleged in 2012 that Mr Barlow, Mr Donald, Mr Owen and Mr Wild invested at least £26m in a scheme run by Icebreaker Management.

At the time Take That’s lawyers insisted the band mates believed the investments were legitimate enterprises and that all four named paid “significant tax”.

Read more: Jimmy Carr 'morally wrong' for avoiding tax, says Cameron

Mr Barlow, 43, who has spent more than 20 years in the public eye, returned to Buckingham Palace in November 2012 to be awarded his OBE by the Queen.

He was given the honour for services to the entertainment industry and to charity.

Mr Barlow masterminded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert – staged at the Palace during a special bank holiday weekend in June 2012 – which featured a host of stars including Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney who played to a televised audience of millions.

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