How do guests at The Ritz feel about it not paying corporation tax?


The Ritz, perhaps Britain’s most instantly recognisable hotel, is facing the prospect of being targeted by protest groups as early as next month over revelations that it has not paid any corporation tax in the last 17 years.

But, while the world-famous hotel has become the latest major company to be caught up in the corporate tax controversy, there was little sign of the sort of public anger aimed at firms like Starbucks among those staying there today.

Instead, some customers told The Independent that - while they thought the company had a moral responsibility to pay into the public purse - the onus must be on the government to crack down on any which legally avoided paying tax.

“If what they are doing is not illegal, then they are not doing anything wrong,” said one visitor to the Ritz, who did not want to be named. As the man waited for a taxi outside the hotel’s side entrance, he said: “It is the government’s fault if firms are able to employ strategies to minimise their taxes, the politicians need to sort out the loopholes.”

Another guest, a Yorkshireman who lives in Kazakhstan where he works for a major oil firm, said it was the moral responsibility of companies to “give something back” but that it was difficult to see a firm paying tax it is not forced to.

The man, who did not want to be named, spoke as he stood outside the hotel. Referring to the attitudes of some of its customers towards the issue – which contrasts the outrage directed at Starbucks by some of its customers - he added that there were some “enormously rich people in there who simply live in a different world”.

He said that he himself was once registered as non-domiciled in the UK but changed his status to pay UK tax because he wanted to pay into the system. He said: “I believe in a fair and just society but it is the laws which need to be changed, not the companies.

“If someone has a clever accountant, is that the real problem when there are also a lot of people who evade tax illegally? I do think that companies have a moral responsibility and obligation to pay something to help society. If I was the chief executive of a large business and I found that it was complying with tax laws [while avoiding UK tax], I would consider giving some money to charity in order to fulfil that obligation.”

When it was revealed to have employed a tax avoidance scheme, a public backlash prompted Starbucks to agree to pay Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs a lump sum over the next two years and to consider changing its structure to pay UK corporation tax.

UK Uncut, the anti-tax avoidance group which carried out a high profile demonstration down the street from the Ritz at Fortnum and Mason last year, is believed to have added the world-famous hotel to the list of firms to be considered for future action.

UK Uncut member Sarah Greene said: “It is an outrage that the government continues to let the super wealthy and big businesses dodge millions in tax while vital services like refuges and rape crisis centres, benefits and the NHS face the axe.

She added that cracking down on tax avoidance schemes could “bring in billions”, which could “fund vital services…but are instead using the deficit to justify the cuts which are devastating people’s lives”.

Ms Greene said: “The government must close the tax loopholes companies use to avoid paying billions in tax to the UK. We don’t need cosmetic changes, tweaks around the edges or promises of months of talking - Osborne needs to take urgent action now to tackle widespread tax avoidance by some of the biggest companies in the UK instead of making single mothers, disabled people and people on low wages pay for the economic crisis we did not cause.”

It is understood, however, that the group will not be deciding its next target before the new year.

The comments came after a BBC report unveiled the Ritz’s tax arrangements. Aidan Barclay, who runs the UK operation on behalf of its joint owners the Barclay brothers, said that the Ritz had not paid any dividends, and profits from the hotel had been reinvested.

Mr Barclay, son of Sir David Barclay said: “The Barclay family members and their companies abide by the law and pay the taxes required by UK law and the laws of other relevant countries.”

His father said: “We have always acted in a responsible way with regard to taxation and have never been involved in any tax avoidance scheme. We are not responsible for corporate taxes in the UK and are unaware what tax is paid on the Ritz.”

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice