09/02/2017 14:05 GMT

Gary Lineker Vs Daily Mail Continues As Paper Dredges Up Old Tax Avoidance Stories

It's old news.

The ongoing feud between Gary Lineker and the Daily Mail escalated on Thursday as the newspaper presented old news about tax avoidance as a fresh smear.

The first 18 paragraphs of the two-page spread attack the “holier than thou” and “sanctimonious” presenter who operates in the “smug echo chamber of wooly liberalism”.

It then detailed the footballing legend’s “colourful tax affairs”, referencing records available publicly at Companies House, specifically Lineker’s involvement in alleged tax avoidance schemes, which surfaced in 2014.

Lineker has never been found guilty of doing anything illegal in relation to his tax affairs.

Daily Mail
The two-page spread in Thursday's Mail.

The TV presenter and a host of other celebrities invested in Ingenious Media between 2003-07, a firm that tried to generate tax relief from artificial losses from investments in a number of blockbuster films. 

It was widely reported in 2014 that Revenue & Customs were investigating such schemes for possible tax avoidance (different from tax evasion which is illegal) and that investors could expect to be sent huge tax demands.

In 2016, investors including Lineker, David Beckham and Craig David were told to pay back a total of £1 billion.

Referring to the company, The Daily Mail article reads:

These organisations are highly controversial. For each was deliberately designed to allow wealthy individuals — such as Lineker, this great champion of equality — to avoid paying the same rates of tax on their income as the man or woman in the street.

The LLPs created complex ways for very rich people to exploit tax breaks intended to encourage investment in UK films.

Ironically, these are the same schemes that former England captain David Beckham signed up to, and which saw his proposed knighthood ‘red flagged’, or rejected, by the Honours Committee. Perhaps that may partly explain why Lineker chose to speak out in support of his fellow tax-avoider this week.

The information contained in the article has been widely reported before and the long-running legal tussle between Ingenious Media and the HMRC is well documented.

Lineker responded to the article on Twitter.

Those investing in what the Mail called “highly controversial” firms may not have had knowledge of how their money was being used, something the newspaper acknowledged in paragraph 68 of its article.

A number of investors are now suing Ingenious Media, the company behind the scheme.

Mail Online
How the article appeared online

Today’s Daily Mail article adds nothing new to the story apart from two quotes from Tory MPs.

The criticism is also ironic given the tax history of its owner, Jonathan Rothermere. The Guardian notes:

Rothermere family, Daily Mail

A Lady Rothermere trust is recorded in Jersey. It appears to refer to the late Lord Rothermere’s second wife, Maiko Lee, of Korean nationality. She did not respond to our invitations to comment. Rothermere’s son Jonathan by his first wife inherited the Daily Mail, also through a Jersey trust, and a Bermuda-registered offshore entity. Jonathan is estimated to be worth £760m. He has not denied claiming tax concessions as a “non-dom”, on the grounds that his father lived in Paris. He resides at Ferne Park, a stately home in Wiltshire built for him by architect Quinlan Terry.

Jeff Spicer via Getty Images
Lineker at the National Television Awards last month

Lineker has been a vocal supporter of humanitarian issues such as refugee rights and has attracted much criticism from those on the right including a long line of pieces attempting to smear him.

Last year The Sun attacked him for branding those questioning the age of the young men entering the UK from Calais as “hideously racist” and on its front page suggested the BBC was under pressure to fire him for breaching its guidelines around impartiality.

An article last November in the Mail detailing his and ex-wife’s “amorous display on-board a British Airways flight” that “shocked fellow passengers”.

Lineker later branded the story “utter lies” and “laughable”.