Letter: Al Fayed: facts about tax

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I refer to the article "Al Fayed firm faces tax inquiry" (24 November).

There has been no suggestion of any financial impropriety and I note that you fail to mention certain provable and relevant facts such as that my companies have contributed many tens of millions of pounds to the Exchequer by way of taxes over the past quarter of a century.

As to the subject matter of the story, the facts are these:

The rating authority made a decision some years ago that the Park Lane buildings in question should pay domestic rates rather than business rates; that authority, Westminster council, now seeks to reverse its decision; if certain pending planning applications are ultimately approved, business rates will certainly apply to one of the buildings for the future.

However, it is currently in issue between Westminster council and Hyde Park Residence Limited whether the council erred in its 1993 decision concerning rating and whether it can now revisit a decision taken three years ago so as to change retrospectively the basis upon which the buildings were rated.

This whole issue is a fairly routine commercial matter but it is nonetheless confidential as between Westminster council and Hyde Park Residence Limited. It is difficult for me to appreciate why you believe that there is such a degree of public interest involved here.

M Al Fayed

London SW1

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