In Brief

Gary Barlow should keep OBE despite tax scheme - Cameron

Court found that Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen were members of huge tax-avoidance scheme

GARY BARLOW should not be stripped of his OBE despite sheltering millions of pounds in a tax-avoidance scheme, David Cameron has said.

"Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country," the Prime Minister told ITV's Good Morning Britain. "He's raised money for charity, he has done very well for Children in Need. The OBE was in respect of that work and what he has done."

But he added: "Clearly this scheme was wrong and it is right that they're going to have to pay back the money."

Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee said yesterday that the performer "might show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE." He received the award in 2012 for services to music and charity.

Barlow and his bandmates Howard Donald and Mark Owen heaped £66m into two partnerships which masqueraded as music-industry investment schemes but were tax shelters for the super-rich.

The schemes, set up by a firm called Icebreaker Management, allowed the pop stars to avoid tax on around £63m from live performances and music sales. The band members are expected to be ordered to repay more than £20m to HM Revenue & Customs following the ruling.

“Icebreaker is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax avoidance scheme,” Judge Colin Bishopp said. “The aim was to secure [tax] relief for members, and to inflate the scale of the relief by unnecessary borrowing.”

The tax affairs of Barlow, Donald and Owen have been called into question before. In 2012 it was reported that they sheltered about £6.5m in a “highly aggressive” Jersey-based tax scheme called Liberty.

The three band members have not commented since the latest ruling. In 2012 their lawyers said the stars paid significant tax and did not believe they were investing in avoidance schemes.

There is no suggestion that the other Take That members, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams, were investors.

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