UK

Solicitor General Robert Buckland denies tax claims

Robert Buckland

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC has denied attempting to avoid tax after being named as an investor in a scheme reportedly under investigation.

The Sunday Times claimed the Tory MP had invested in the Invicta Film Partnership No 25, which was being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs.

Mr Buckland said he consulted an independent financial adviser, and the companies he invested in were beyond reproach.

HMRC would not comment on the case.

'I pay my taxes'

In a statement, Mr Buckland - a barrister and Conservative MP for South Swindon - said: "I have not attempted to avoid tax, and my investments are a matter of public record.

"Before making them I asked an independent, accredited financial adviser to look into the companies, who found them to be completely beyond reproach.

"HMRC look into many different types of investments, but I have been assured that there is no active investigation into my tax affairs."

He added: "I pay my taxes as required each year, and I have been fully open with government officials and declared my interests in line with usual reporting processes."

The Sunday Times reported that Mr Buckland had been a member of the Invicta Film Partnership No 25 scheme since 2005, but that a memo sent to members last year showed it was now "the subject of an open HMRC inquiry".

Film partnership schemes were designed to boost the UK film industry by offering tax breaks for investors of low budget films.

A tax tribunal ruled in 2011 that two film partnership schemes were primarily being used for tax avoidance rather than for business purposes and therefore investors were not entitled to the claimed tax relief.

The ruling is subject to appeal, which has meant most tax inquiries involving such schemes are at a standstill.

The coalition has pledged to crack down on tax avoidance - which is legal - in the wake of a number of high-profile cases involving celebrities.

Chancellor George Osborne has described "aggressive tax avoidance" as "morally repugnant".

And Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Saturday that he wanted to focus on the issue of tax avoidance.

It emerged in July that Mr Buckland, who was handed the role of solicitor general last year, was found to have breached the legal profession's code of conduct in 2011.

At that time, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office said: "It is a matter of public record that in May 2011, Robert Buckland was found to have committed a minor breach of the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales.

"He was not suspended or fined and continued to practice and sit as a recorder.

"This finding was removed from the Bar records after two years and therefore Mr Buckland was not required to declare it upon appointment as solicitor general."

Mr Buckland is from Llanelli in south-west Wales, and practised law in Cardiff and Swansea before his election as an MP.

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