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May 2, 2012

Ken’s £220k tax avoidance: a final summary.

On 4th April, at the Newsnight mayoral debate, Ken Livingstone said “I’m happy to publish details of everything I’ve earnt in the last four years.” He didn’t, and he hasn’t.

On 24th April, under heavy fire at the London Jewish Forum, Ken said “I’m happy to get my accountant to certify my accounts.” He didn’t, and he hasn’t.

On 25th April, Ken told the Evening Standard that he would publish his certified accounts online “shortly”. He didn’t, and he hasn’t.

Three promises made; three promises broken. With polls opening in about fifteen hours time, I think we can safely assume that Ken never will release his infamous company accounts. I know of two journalists who have approached his team on this issue in the last two days; both have been met with a wall of silence. Clearly the accounts are so riddled with evidence of hypocrisy that releasing them would be more electorally damaging than breaking his promises to Londoners.

There are two issues here:

Firstly, having seen demonstrable evidence of Ken’s unashamed willingness to say one thing and do another, to make a promise and then instantly renege on it, how can he expect Londoners to trust any of the other pledges he’s made during the election campaign? As we saw time and time again between 2000-2008, his duplicity truly knows no bounds.

Secondly, given Ken’s silence on his tax affairs, and given his refusal to even deny any of the allegations made over the last few days, we can only assume that the claims are accurate. It was already calculated that Ken’s paid just 14.5% income tax – a lower rate than even a City Hall cleaner – but further calculations have estimated that he’s avoided around £220,000 of tax over three years. From a man who has railed against tax avoidance, and who claims to be motivated by the concerns of the poor and needy, it’s frankly contemptible hypocrisy.

Let’s have a look at what £220,000 could pay for in these difficult economic times:

Tomorrow, Londoners have an opportunity to pass judgement on Ken’s career of broken promises and scandalous hypocrisy. They should seize it.

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