Labour attacks Tory election mastermind Lynton Crosby over tax affairs

Attack comes a day after announcement of crackdown on non-doms

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Labour has criticised the tax affairs of the Conservative party’s election mastermind Lynton Crosby and questioned why one of the companies he directs is based in the low-tax jurisdiction of Malta.

Margaret Hodge, the parliamentary committee chair who pursued companies such as Starbucks and Google on tax, suggested that Mr Crosby had established a company in Malta for the purposes of avoiding tax.

“Few people in the Conservative party wield as much power as Lynton Crosby. Looking at the sheer complexity of his network of offshore interests, it is difficult to see what purpose these arrangements can possibly serve other than to avoid tax,” she told the Evening Standard.

Labour says Mr Crosby is a director of Rutland Ltd and a shareholder in Rutland Holdings Ltd.

The party says the companies are based at the same Maltese address as a firm called ‘Bentley Trust (Malta)’, which advertises financial services including the “legitimate mitigation” of tax.

Mr Corsby is not alleged to have done anything illegal.

A spokesperson for Mr Crosby told the newspaper: “Any claim, or attempt to claim, Mr Crosby has attempted to reduce his tax liability in the UK is malicious and libellous and will be treated as such.”

The attack comes a day after Labour pledged to ban non-domiciled tax status for wealthy UK residents – an arrangement which can often lead to dramatically reduced tax bills.

 

Labour sources speculate that Mr Crosby may be behind a personal attack today on Ed Miliband by defence secretary Michael Fallon in which he accused the Labour leader of wanting to ‘stab Britain in the back’, according to the Spectator magazine.

The party sources are reported to be speculating that Mr Crosby may have deliberately engineered today’s row to limit the positive coverage of Labour’s popular announcement on non-doms.

The renewed attack on Mr Crosby’s tax arrangements – which were first reported in October 2013, could be a warning to the Australian election guru that Labour is prepared to get personal during the election campaign.

After the Conservative reaction his announcement yesterday Mr Miliband accused the Conservatives of defending people who sought to avoid tax.

“If you were in any doubt about who the Tories stand up for, they're now defending the indefensible nom-dom tax loophole,” he tweeted yesterday.

David Cameron described Mr Miliband’s announcement of the policy to scrap the non-dom rule as a “shambles”, however.

Labour's attack on Mr Crosby comes a month after several Conservative ministers voiced anonymous concerns that his election campaign was aggressive and uninspiring.

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