Has Ashcroft met his obligations after a decade?

In 1999, Tory leader William Hague proposed billionaire Michael Ashcroft for a life peerage, along with a promise that Ashcroft would take up permanent UK residence.

The millions Ashcroft has pumped into the Conservative Party has prompted political opponents to question his legal status – whether he lives and pays taxes in the UK.

That’s never been clear; but in Sunday’s Andrew Marr Programme on the BBC, William Hague was asked about Lord Ashcroft and some think Hague has settled the issue.

Here’s the exchange:

Marr “You’ve been out and about with Lord Ashcroft. Do you know whether he pays tax in this country yet?”

Hague “I’m sure he fulfills the obligations that were imposed on him at the time he became…”

Marr “That’s not quite the question. Have you asked him?”

Hague “I have asked him. Because I’ve been asked whether I’ve asked him before. My conclusion having asked him is that he fulfilled the obligations that were imposed on him at the time that be became a peer”

Marr “Does he pay taxes in the UK.”

Hague “I imagine that was the obligation that was imposed on him”

Marr “So you think he does.”

Hague “So I think he’s fulfilled what was asked of him. You can’t expect me to know the details of somebody’s tax affairs”

Marr “You must have asked him – is that yes or no then?”

Hague “I’ve asked him and he fulfils the obligations that were imposed on him and that includes…”

The Independent yesterday report this as “Tories finally come clean on Ashcroft tax status”.

So how clean have they come? Hague seems oddly evasive in the interview. Instead of categorically saying that Lord Ashcroft is resident in the UK, Hague says “I think…”, “I’m sure…” and “I imagine…”.

A decade on and the Conservatives still seem unable to simply say “Lord Ashcroft lives and pays taxes in the UK.

Those Labour and Lib Dem MPs on the wrong end of the Ashcroft millions might still feel they’d like to know how many years it took Michael Ashcroft to fulfil his obligations and to what extent he’s really done so.

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4 Comments

  • I’d actually like to hear it from Lord Ashcroft. What, when and where – in precise detail please.

    Then I’d like to know if there were any years when he didn’t how much that was subsidised by the British taxpayer.

  • David Allen 10th Nov '09 - 5:40pm

    This is so evasive that it virtually amounts to a confession of guilt.

    No doubt Ashcroft pays VAT every time he buys a pint in a British pub. Presumably he doesn’t pay the UK taxman very much else!

  • Belinda B-G 10th Nov '09 - 7:20pm

    I can’t believe that there is not an ‘Ashcroft Come Clean’ Facebook site.

  • Belinda B-G 10th Nov '09 - 7:21pm

    @John and in addition whether any back taxes are now due.

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