Mail and Telegraph pull anti-tax-dodging ads

Right-wing papers the Daily Mail and the Telegraph have pulled 38 Degrees's anti-tax-dodging "Artful Dodger" ads - despite having agreed prices with the group.

Picking a pocket or two million: George Osborne, the unacceptable face of tax avoidance

Update 1330hrs:

Metro have given their reasoning for pulling the ad. A spokesman said:

“I gave it the OK before Christmas, but said it would have to be pulled if there was any controversy, and now Conservative HQ are on the attack over the ‘tax dodger’ claims.

“I don’t have a problem with the group advertising with us but obviously we don’t want to run anything that could be viewed as libellous.”

Yet 38 Degrees’s David Babbs explained:

“It’s a bit implausible that they were genuinely worried about libel – we had been told that the adverts had been looked at and approved by their libel lawyers several days earlier, they’d be looked at and approved by 38 Degrees libel lawyers several days before that, and several other papers felt comfortable running them.”

Right-wing papers the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph have pulled 38 Degrees’s anti-tax-dodging “Artful Dodger” ads – despite having agreed prices with the group. Upon seeing the advert, the Telegraph refused to run it while the Mail upped their quote hugely, though Associated News said it would run the ad in today’s Metro – yet spiked it at the last minute.

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, told Left Foot Forward:

“Our adverts ran today in the i, the Independent, and the Guardian – but we were prevented from running them in the Telegraph or any of the Daily Mail papers.

“It shows that our tax dodging campaign is touching a raw nerve, and that those papers most supportive of the Conservative-led government are willing to exercise editorial control even over advertising.

“Despite some right-wing papers blocking the ads, 38 Degrees members have seen the impact that this campaign is having. Our favourite moments was seeing Eamonn Holmes confront minister Justine Greening live on Sky Breakfast News with a copy of our ads.

“By working together, we’ve forced this issue up the agenda today.”

38 Degrees will now spend the money which would have been used to place ads in the Mail and Telegraph to run the adverts on billboards and bus stops around the UK.

The ad focuses on George Osborne, asking if he is “the dodgiest dodger of them all”. In October, Left Foot Forward reported that Mr Osborne was one of three cabinet ministers who stood accused avoiding millions of pounds in tax, alongside international development secretary Andrew Mitchell and transport secretary Philip Hammond.

Channel Four’s Dispatches revealed how the Chancellor’s family has set up offshore trusts, one of the most common ways for the super rich to avoid paying inheritance tax, and that, put simply, there will be no inheritance tax to pay on the death of his father – a saving of up to £1.6m.

We have also repeatedly highlighted the allegations of tax avoidance made against the Tories, and the party’s refusal to take action against and clamp down on tax avoidance, from Lord Ashcroft to Philip Green and the circle of hedge fund managers surrounding the Chancellor, while in February, we reported how the Conservative party’s MEPs voted against reforms to clamp down on tax dodgers.

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  • dorothy wilson

    And what about running one with the heading “Robber Gordon” and another headed “Duffer Gordon – the man who sold our gold for $270 an ounce just before it soared to $1600 an ounce”?

  • Henry

    Seems the ‘tax dodger’ issue has hit a nerve with the Tories!

  • Mike Thomas

    How much tax has the Guardian Media Group avoided by being part of a joint-venture incorporated in the Cayman Islands?

    How much inheritance tax has Ed and David Milliband avoided by sighing a Deed of Variation on their parent’s £1.6m house. They stand to trouser 20% each and avoid IHT?

    Glasshouses and stones?

  • Mary Taylor

    I rather think the issue was not raised quite so vociferously until now because until 2010 the general public were not being called upon, through overt and covert cuts, to stump up the deficit left by the greedy bankers. As for where the 120 billion figure comes from, it is broken down on Richard Murphy’s website in detail ( – but is roundly due to to uncollected tax, illegal tax evasion and abuse of tax loopholes.

  • matthew fox

    Tax Evasion is a badge of honour for Conservatives. We run ads targeting benefit fraud, but not one word about people avoiding tax.

    I am not surprised some people have no problem with tax evasion, it lets them have more time complaining about the unemployed and people on benefits.

  • john bruce

    The “dodger Ad” may be biased. That doesn’t make it unfair in this instance. The Tories and their Lib-Dem chums use half truth and bias in their attacks upon the ordinary people of this country who are being asked to suffer because of the deficit. So forgive us a little bias when we point the finger at the class who gained most out of creating the crash and who are not shouldering a fair share of the burden. One commenatator to this site has pointed out the 7.5 million pound loss made by the Osborne company. I wonder how much of that was lost, personally, by them? If they’re like the owners of so many companies that failed in the headlong rush to crash then not much. They will have taken their cut and left the creditors, shareholders, the banks and the employees to suffer the damage.

  • Steve Hargreaves

    In fact, IHT is a charge on the estate of the deceased, not on the beneficiaries. As such, no-one named has avoided any tax.

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  • http://38DegreesTaxAds Ross Learmonth

    It is absolutely clear that ALL politicians are crooks and are all at tax evasion and expenses fiddling. House “flipping” ~ now using THREE houses.

    After all, we have Tony B. Liar, Mandleson and the odious Alistair Campbell to cite as evidence of this. It is no longer a game played out between political parties. How they really wish it was!

    Lying and deceit, aka corruption, is now the main currency of modern political Britain. This replaced any nonsense about “integrity” years ago.

    So it is up to 38 Degrees to attack all of them equally. And not to be swayed by meaningless gibberish about being Tories, Labour, Liberal democrats or anything else. There is no political divide, i.e. in order words ~ the only “consensus” is how to rip us off the quickest.

    Let’s get the boot into them all and find honest replacement. Yes I know that will be very difficult.

    But the sooner we start!

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  • John Woods

    There is an issue with trust funds and it has to be resolved at some time. Labour was so in awe of the rich that it did nothing and this Tory admin are unlikely to do anything either. Is there any consensus on this issue, given that most of the assets in Trust Funds have been acquired from taxed income?

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  • Ian Silvera

    The focus of this story should be on the libel laws of our justice system, not the the papers who are, rightfully, scared of them.

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