Gary Barlow's 'aggressive' tax avoidance criticised by David Cameron

David Cameron has joined a chorus of criticism against Take That frontman Gary Barlow after a court decided he was part of a multi-million pound tax avoidance scheme.

Mr Barlow, a Conservative Party supporter, and his band mates Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild face having to repay tens of millions of pounds to HM Revenue & Customs after a judge ruled that they had invested £66million in a tax-avoidance scheme. 

Asked about the case by The Times, the Prime Minister said: “I am opposed to all aggressive tax avoidance.”

In 2012, when it was first alleged that the pop star had invested in a massive tax avoidance scheme, Mr Cameron refused to offer any criticism – despite having described comedian Jimmy Carr’s tax arrangements as “morally wrong” just weeks before.

Margaret Hodge, the chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said that Barlow “might want to show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE”.

While Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “People who don’t pay the taxes that they should undermine the economy, damage our public services and place an extra, unfair burden on hard-working families and companies who play by the rules.”

Their £66m investment in Icebreakers partnerships were billed as music-industry investment schemes. But on Friday Judge Colin Bishopp ruled that Icebreaker was a tax-avoidance scheme and HMRC is now expected to demand repayment of the tax relief.

The judge said: “Icebreaker is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax-avoidance scheme. The predominant purpose of entering the scheme was to achieve a tax saving.”

None of the 51 Icebreaker partnerships made a profit despite supposedly investing in a range of artists, some of them new and others well-established.

At least £300m was placed in the scheme, set up by the company Icebreaker Management, and the average investor is now expected to have to pay back £357,000. The Take That stars are likely to have to repay much more, though not Jason Orange nor Robbie Williams as neither is believed to have been involved in the scheme.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC has 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. HMRC will continue to challenge in the courts and anyone who engages in tax avoidance schemes risk not only the high cost of these schemes but also lay themselves open to penalties and, potentially, prosecution.”

There was no immediate comment from Take That members but statements previously made on their behalf have said they made significant tax and did not believe they were taking part in tax-avoidance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones