That he failed to register his shares in Blairmore on becoming an MP, and lobbied for the protection of offshore trusts while being an undeclared beneficiary of one, does merit investigation by Parliament.
But it’s the insistence by the apopleptic right that he should not be criticised over tax avoidance – that “everybody does it” – that we should register as a kind of collective Marie Antoinette moment for the UK’s social elite.
If someone walked into a pub and announced they had found a way to scam the benefit system, they would face opprobrium or a swift, anonymous call to the benefit cheats hotline.
But a large part of the UK financial industry is dedicated to scamming the rules whereby both individuals and companies pay tax on income. London is home to literally hundreds of advisory companies – many of them registered professionals in finance, accountancy and the law – whose purpose is to do only this.
My emphasis. Paul Mason gets to the heart of the matter.
Edward Troup, executive chair of HMRC since April, is a former partner at Simmons & Simmons, whose clients have included the Panama-registered fund created by David Cameron’s father, Ian.
Troup, who described taxation as “legalised extortion” in a 1999 newspaper article, built a career advising corporations on how to reduce their tax bills before leaving Simmons & Simmons to join the civil service in 2004.
Simmons & Simmons is reported to be among a number of legal practices that received letters last week from the legal watchdog asking them to inspect their files for connections to Mossack Fonseca. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is understood to have written to Simmons & Simmons asking it to carry out a review. Troup worked at the firm from 1997 until 2004, when he left to join the Treasury as head of corporate tax policy. He joined HMRC in 2012 to oversee large corporate tax settlements.
While working in the City, Troup led the opposition to reforms put forward by Gordon Brown to curb corporate tax avoidance in 1999, putting out a press release headed: “City lawyers call on government to withdraw proposals to tackle tax avoidance.” He criticised the proposed laws for giving “wide-reaching” powers to the Inland Revenue.
Cameron and Osborne appointed Troup to chair HMRC.