Daily Archives: March 27, 2009

Jim Pickard

Kevin Coyne, north-west regional official for Unite, was today suspended by the union’s hierarchy. As were two other officials.

Coyne was one of four people who stood against Derek Simpson, head of the Amicus wing of Unite, in a recent leadership challenge. Simpson won – but with only 38 per cent of the vote (see past FT Westminster blogs such as this, this and this). Read more

Jim Pickard

It’s normal practice in Parliamentary debates to declare any interests which could be relevant.

During a debate on tax avoidance yesterday, Baroness Hooper – a Tory peer – made sure she mentioned her interest as vice-chairman of the Overseas Territories All-Party Parliamentary Group.

What she didn’t mention is that she is also paid by Barclays (as chair of the advisory committee for Barclays European Infrastructure Fund).

Why is this relevant? Because, as Lord Oakeshott pointed out in the same debate, “Documents leaked to the Liberal Democrats…appear to detail systematic tax avoidance on a grand scale by Barclays”.

The documents in question have been injuncted.

So what did Hooper have to say about the overseas tax havens?

– prompting Lord Myners (no stranger to offshore havens) accusing her of “veering towards her being an apologist”?

UPDATE: Mea culpa. Myners actually used the phrase “apologist” in respect of another Tory peer, Baroness Noakes – although Baroness Hooper assures me: “I’m certainly an apologist for overseas territories”.

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There is no doubt that successive governments have encouraged the overseas territories to be self-sufficient. A number of them have developed highly efficient and successful financial services, based on international best practice…

My final general point is to emphasise, as did the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion. The former is legal, the latter a crime… Read more