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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Johnson & Livingstone clash over tax affairs

Jenny Jones, Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick & Ken Livingstone at this mornings debate*

The Labour candidate Ken Livingstone, during the debate on LBC radio this morning, has once again accused his Conservative opponent, Boris Johnson, of having the same tax avoidance measures that he has, a claim Mr Johnson has always strenuously denied.

On air Mr Johnson accused Mr Livingstone of telling "barefaced lies" over the issue. Liberal Democrat candidate, Brian Paddick, waded in saying the difference between these two is Mr Livingstone had "railed against people who do what he is doing." Which is correct Mr Livingstone is on record condemning "rich b*****ds" who indulge in tax avoidance. It is just hypocrisy from Mr Livingstone.

The mayoral debate continued after the microphones went off. It is being reported that on the way out, of LBC the four candidates were in the lift, along with Managing Director of LBC radio James Rea Mr Johnson & Mr Livingstone were "nose to nose" and that Mr Johnson said three times "you're a f*****g liar". A spokesman for Ken Livingstone has confirmed Mr Johnson's outburst in the lift. 

Mr Livingstone said Johnson's company, Finland Station, was set up to handle his outside income from filming. "That's the same as my company - Silveta Ltd. That's not to avoid tax. If you really want to avoid tax you have something offshore. He said he enjoyed the hustings "immensely".

Mr Johnson's campaign have issued a statement rebutting Livingstone's claims about the mayor's tax arrangements. The statement says: "His claims against Boris Johnson's tax arrangement are lies and he knows they are."

Mr Johnson said "in relation to my business affairs and tax arrangements, specifically do I have any company or other arrangements constructed to enable me to pay less tax and do I, as has been claimed by the Labour mayoral candidate and the opposition leader (Ed Miliband) have the same arrangements as Labour's mayoral candidate, the answer is simple and unequivocal in both cases: no".

A Poll on the LBC website asking: Which candidate did the best in the London Mayoral Debate? shows an overwhelming triumph for Boris Johnson:

Boris Johnson - 64.59%
Ken Livingstone - 21.17%
Brian Paddick - 9.21%
Jenny Jones - 5.02%

*image courtesy of LBC radio.