Wayne Rooney loses Sunday Times headline complaint

Wayne Rooney
Image caption The footballer claimed The Sunday Times headline was misleading

The press watchdog has rejected a complaint from footballer Wayne Rooney over a Sunday Times headline alleging he paid only 2% tax.

The Manchester United striker complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) over the headline and his lack of chance to reply.

The 16 January headline read: "Top footballers dodge millions in income tax: Rooney pays 2% on some earnings."

The PCC said the headline was clarified by the accompanying article.

It was claimed that Rooney had saved nearly £600,000 by taking £1.6m in loans rather than as income over a two-year period, according to the article on footballers' tax arrangements.

The player said the headline was inaccurate and misleading, as the loans were subject to Corporation Tax at 28%.

It was impossible for any person to pay a rate of 2% on any part of their earnings, he argued.

Rooney said the article did not mention that the loans were repaid the following year.

The newspaper said that current legislation classified such personal loans offered by limited companies, which was a perfectly legal tax mitigation device, as a benefit in kind, therefore incurring a rate of only 2% on the total sum of the loan.

It added that Rooney had employed such a strategy by structuring some of his finances through a limited company.

'Sensible response'

The Sunday Times said its readers would not have been misled by the headline, and would understand that the arrangement would be explained in the article.

In its ruling, the PCC said the article did not breach its code, regarding accuracy.

The watchdog acknowledged that the headline did require "further explanation" because it was not "the full position", but this information was covered in the article.

The newspaper had also offered to make clear that Rooney paid all his taxes at the legally required rate, which the commission considered to be a "sensible and proportionate" response.

PCC director Stephen Abell, said: "The commission's case law consistently makes clear that headlines - which are by their nature reductive - need to be read alongside the accompanying article.

"As a result, the complaint was not upheld."

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