Carr apologises for 'error of judgement' as PM is accused of hypocrisy over tax comments


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Under fire comedian Jimmy Carr today issued an apology for what he called a 'terrible error of judgement' as the row over his tax avoidance embroiled the Prime Minister in a hypocrisy row.

Writing on the social networking site Twitter Carr posted a statement saying he was no longer involved with the controversial K2 tax shelter.

Although the tax scheme was declared to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Carr has been heavily criticised after it was revealed that he was the biggest beneficiary of the process which protects money from tax in Jersey.

It is thought the off-shore scheme could allow the comedian to pay as little as 1 per cent income tax.

The Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking during a visit to Mexico, waded into the row over tax avoidance yesterday condemning Mr Carr's use of the off-shore scheme as “morally wrong”.

However the PM himself was accused of hypocrisy today after he declined to criticise Take That singer and Conservative supporter Gary Barlow, who has been accused of using a complex scheme to avoid paying millions.

"I am not going to give a running commentary on different people's tax affairs. I don't think that would be right," the premier said at a press conference in Downing Street.

"I made an exception yesterday because it was a very specific case where the details seemed to have been published and it was a particularly egregious example of an avoidance scheme that seemed to me to be wrong and I made that point."

Mr Cameron also said the "rules of the road" on tax were clear.

However, some politicians accused the PM of hypocrisy over his statements.

Shadow leader of the house Angela Eagle questioned Mr Cameron's decision to speak out about Carr's tax arrangements while remaining silent about those of other high profile figures.

She said: "Oddly, (Mr Cameron) did not take the opportunity to condemn as morally repugnant the tax avoidance scheme used by Conservative supporter Gary Barlow, who has given a whole new meaning to the phrase Take That.

"If he is also morally repugnant, why has he been given an OBE in the Birthday Honours?

"Why is the Prime Minister's view of what's dodgy in the tax system so partial? Sir Philip Green has interesting tax arrangements but far from being labelled morally repugnant in a Mexico TV studio, he has got a Government review to head up."

Carr, who has 2.3m followers on Twitter, today issued a statement in a series of messages on the social networking site Twitter, he said,

“As this is obviously a serious matter. I met with a financial advisor and he said to me 'Do you want to pay less tax? It's totally legal'. I said 'Yes'.”

“I now realise I've made a terrible error of judgement.

“Although I've been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC.

“I'm no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone. Jimmy Carr.”

Carr Crash:  A comedian dogged by controversy

The 39-year-old Cambridge educated comedian Jimmy Carr has often been in the headlines thanks to his vicious on-stage quips and near-the-knuckle gags.

Carr hit the headlines in 2006 after he joked on the weekly BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends that gypsy women smell.

The comic told listeners: “The male gypsy moth can smell the female gypsy moth up to seven miles away - and that fact also works if you remove the word 'moth'.”

After criticism from the Gypsy Council the BBC was forced to issue an apology.

In 2009, he again flirted with controversy after a photograph apparently taken inside a court building appeared on his Twitter account.

The picture was posted after the star faced speeding charges at Sudbury Magistrates' Court, in Suffolk.

Police later said no offence had been committed.

Later the same year Carr was again forced to back down after a joke about injured soldiers.

The 8 Out Of 10 Cats presenter drew criticism when he told an audience at the Manchester Apollo: “Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a f***ing good Paralympic team in 2012.”

He later admitted he felt “terrible” about the offence caused.

Last year he again sparked criticism after cracking jokes about handicapped children.