Hague in June: I have no reason to think Ashcroft hasn’t complied

William Hague assured Tony Blair that Ashcroft would pay "tens of millions a year in tax". In June, Hague said he had "no reason to think that he’s not complied."

A decade ago William Hague assured Tony Blair that upon becoming a peer, Michael Ashcroft would pay “tens of millions a year in tax”. As it emerged yesterday that Ashcroft had, in fact, been a ‘non dom’ during this period and avoided £127 million in tax, Left Foot Forward wonders why the shadow foreign secretary told Jeremy Paxman repeatedly in June last year that he had “no reason to think that he’s not complied with the commitments that he gave.”

The exchange of letters in 1999 between Tony Blair and William Hague, reproduced in this morning’s Guardian, outline the then-Tory leaders’ assurances about Michael Ashcroft:

“He is, however, committed to becoming resident by the next financial year in order properly to fulfil his responsibilities in the House of Lords. This decision will cost him (and benefit the Treasury) tens of millions a year in tax yet he considers it worthwhile.”

But in June 2009, William Hague faced 17 questions from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight about Lord Ashcroft including:

PAXMAN: Just one final point, in the current climate of suspicion about politics your deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, a man whose peerage you lobbied for, saying that he would become resident in Britain for tax purposes, can you just tell us, is he resident in Britain for tax purposes now?

HAGUE: I’ve no reason to think that he’s not complied with the commitments that he gave …

PAXMAN: Have you asked him directly?

HAGUE: I have discussed it with him and I have no reason to think he hasn’t complied

Watch it:

• Join the facebook group and sign the petition demanding Lord Ashcroft pays back the missing millions

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.