A reminder of last year’s Paxman-Hague Ashcroft grilling

Here is an interview with William Hague on Newsnight, 2 June 2009:

My favourite Paxman question: “You seem surprisingly uncurious about such an important matter?”

Jeremy Paxman: Just one final point, in the current climate of suspicion about politics your deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, a man whose peerage you lobbied for, saying that he would become resident in Britain for tax purposes, can you just tell us, is he resident in Britain for tax purposes now?

William Hague: I’ve no reason to think that he’s not complied with the commitments that he gave.

Jeremy Paxman: That is not the same as an assurance that he is? William Hague: Well it’s the truth as I know it.

Jeremy Paxman: Have you asked him?

William Hague: I’ve no reason to think that he hasn’t complied with the commitments that he gave and whenever I’ve discussed it with him that is the conclusion that I’ve come to.

Jeremy Paxman: Have you asked him directly?

William Hague: I have discussed it with him and I have nor reason to think he hasn’t complied…

Jeremy Paxman: Have you asked him? Did you say to him ‘are you resident in Britain for tax purposes’?

William Hague: I said to him at the time that of course…

Jeremy Paxman: Now?

William Hague: …I expect him to fulfil his commitments. I have no reason to think that he hasn’t. Jeremy Paxman: Have you asked him whether he’s complied with the requirement that you said he would comply with? William Hague: I’ve always said to him that I expected him to comply with any requirements and I would be very surprised if he hadn’t done so and he hadn’t told me about it. Jeremy Paxman: You seem surprisingly uncurious about such an important matter? William Hague: I’m not remotely uncurious about it… Jeremy Paxman: Well then why don’t you ask him? William Hague: There is no evidence that Lord Ashcroft has done anything wrong… Jeremy Paxman: I’m asking form evidence from you that you have at least been intellectually curious enough in this current climate to discover whether or not your deputy chairman is resident or not in this country for tax purposes?

William Hague: As you know I am a rather intellectually curious person and I’ve no reason to think that he hasn’t complied with the requirement that he entered into…

Jeremy Paxman: You’ve never asked him?

William Hague: I’ve discussed the matter with him and I’ve made clear the expectations…

Jeremy Paxman: You got him the peerage on the basis that he would become resident in this country for tax purposes and you’ve never asked him?

William Hague: I’ve just given you the answer about that. I certainly have no reason to think he hasn’t complied with that.

Jeremy Paxman: Why don’t you ask him?

William Hague: I think my answer has been pretty clear about that?

Jeremy Paxman: No, why don’t you ask him?

William Hague: Because I’ve always made clear the expectations on this…

Jeremy Paxman: Why don’t you just ask him?

William Hague: …to think that he has…

Jeremy Paxman: It’s a simple questions, ‘Michael, are you resident here for tax purposes’?

William Hague: …but I will of course keep giving the same answer and that is my answer.

Jeremy Paxman: Hmm.

William Hague:thanks very much.