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GP Masthead
Ashcroft's two undertakings on his tax status PDF Print E-mail
Written by Gordon Prentice   
Sunday, 19 September 2010 15:56

Michael Ashcroft’s new book on the 2010 General Election is published tomorrow.

He continues to take us all for fools.

Ashcroft tells us he felt let down by the Conservative leadership who, he asserts, “could have mounted a more spirited defence” of his actions in March this year when he finally revealed his non dom status after a decade of evading the issue.

In his interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Ashcroft says: “The negotiations [in 2000] with the [Labour] Government for me to join the House of Lords did not include any commitment on my part to be taxed on my worldwide income.”

This is an absurd claim.

Ashcroft deceived the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee who agreed his peerage on the basis of assurances he had given about becoming a permanent resident in the UK.

The Committee wanted everything nailed down. Ashcroft had already been turned down once for a peerage.

Baroness Brenda Dean, a Committee member at the time, told the Public Administration Select Committee earlier this year that she believed Ashcroft pledged to pay tax on his worldwide income as a condition of becoming a peer.

William Hague subsequently claimed Ashcroft’s elevation to the peerage had cost him (Ashcroft) tens of millions of pounds a year in tax, reinforcing the impression that tax status had been part and parcel of the deal.

In fact, Ashcroft gave two undertakings.

In the first one, which went to the PHSC, Ashcroft promised that he would become a “permanent resident” in the UK.

The second undertaking, which was secret, was negotiated by the then Conservative Chief Whip, James Arbuthnot, on behalf of then Conservative leader, William Hague.

In it, the commitment to become a permanent resident had changed to become a “long term resident” with, crucially, no obligation on Ashcroft to pay tax on his huge world-wide income.

The details of this second undertaking were never put into the public domain.

If they had been, there would have been uproar.

The credulous mandarin responsible for putting Ashcroft into the Lords, Sir Hayden Phillips, says he believed Ashcroft had fulfilled all the obligations placed upon him.

To this day Ashcroft continues to maintain his tax status had no bearing on his peerage.

We know otherwise.

But the thing that truly amazes me is that he got away with it.

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Last Updated on Monday, 20 September 2010 18:30
 
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