Colin Jackson defends tax avoidance scheme Icebreaker

Colin Jackson
Image caption Colin Jackson said he would continue to 'invest in young people'

Ex-athlete Colin Jackson has defended his decision to invest in a complex tax avoidance scheme called Icebreaker.

The Cardiff-born BBC Sport broadcaster was one of several wealthy celebrities and individuals in a partnership called Sparkdale LLP which invested in it.

Other members of Sparkdale included a number of dentists, some from Wales, as well as partners in a Cardiff law firm.

Mr Jackson said the scheme invested in people such as musicians who might not get funding elsewhere.

"If it means you have to take a hit then I'll happily take a hit," he told the BBC.

"People have invested in me in the past to help me get to the top of my game.

"I'll still invest in people to help them get to the top of their game."

Sparkdale invested in Icebreaker which a judge has ruled was set up to avoid tax.

'Tax avoidance'

Icebreaker purported to invest in the music industry, taking advantage of tax reliefs that were set up by the UK government to encourage the creative industries.

But in his ruling, Judge Colin Bishop said in reality Icebreaker was "known and understood by all concerned to be a tax avoidance scheme".

Sparkdale claimed losses of £9,399,878 from its investment in Icebreaker.

The losses could be used by members of the partnerships to off-set their tax liabilities. HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment of the tax reliefs.

Mr Jackson said: "The law of the land had stated that you can write those [losses] off on personal tax if you lose. If you gain, you have to pay the tax.

"They've now rethought it, reissued it and said those schemes won't exist any more which is absolutely fine because that certainly won't stop me from investing into young people who need the help".

Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen of the band Take That were members of another partnership involved in Icebreaker, called Larkdale LLP.

In total, around 50 partnerships with hundreds of members were investing in Icebreaker, which claimed total losses of £336m.

The partnerships would make deals over intellectual property rights but the judge found this mechanism was set up in a way that losses were inevitable.

During prime minister's questions on Wednesday, David Cameron was asked why he would not condemn the tax affairs of "Tory-supporting Gary Barlow" by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy.

Mr Cameron said he condemned all tax avoidance, and added a humorous twist to a Take That lyric to say: "We want your money back for good".

Earlier this week, the prime minister rejected calls for Barlow to hand back his OBE over the issue.

Only the specific Icebreaker scheme has been found to breach tax rules.

The UK government continues to allow tax breaks for legitimate investment in the creative industries.

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