Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected calls for Gary Barlow to give back his OBE, telling an interviewer the Take That star has “done a lot for the country”.
Gary has faced criticism from the media after a court ruled he had taken part in a tax avoidance scheme along with other members of his band.
Gary Barlow pictured with David Cameron
One Labour MP suggested the musician “might want to show a bit of contrition by giving by his OBE”.
But speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mr Cameron said: “I don”t think that”s necessary frankly. Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country, he’s raised money for charity, he”s done very well for Children in Need so I”m not sure…
“The OBE was in respect of that work and what he”s done but clearly what this scheme was was wrong and it’s right that they”re going to pay back the money.”
Gary Barlow received his OBE in 2012
According to reports, Gary, Mark Owen and Howard Donald now face having to pay back tens of millions of pounds after they invested £66 million into two partnerships styled as music-industry investment schemes but which were artificial tax shelters.
The partnerships are said to have been set up by a company called Icebreaker Management to offer musicians the chance to avoid paying tax on roughly £63million earned through world tours and record sales.
Judge Colin Bishopp, who led the hearing on Friday told The Times: “Icebreaker is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax avoidance scheme.
“The aim was to secure [tax] relief for members, and to inflate the scale of the relief by unnecessary borrowing,” he said. “No serious or even moderately sophisticated investor, genuinely seeking a profit… would rationally have chosen an Icebreaker partnership.
“The predominant purpose of entering the scheme was to achieve a tax saving.”
In his interview with Good Morning Britain, the Prime Minister stressed the seriousness of tax evasion.
“I think we should be very clear, tax evasion is illegal and for that you can be prosecuted, you can go to prison,” he said.
“Very aggressive tax avoidance schemes, they are wrong and we should really persuade not to do them and that’s why we have these court cases where the court looks at whether a scheme is really about avoiding tax rather than anything else and the court was very clear in this case.”