Exactly 30 days before Londoners go to the polls, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson clashed today over tax during and after an on-air row on LBC radio.
Exactly 30 days before Londoners go to the polls, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson clashed today over tax, with the Tory Mayor, “nose-to-nose” with his rival, screaming “it’s all f****** lies, it’s all f****** lies”.
The confrontation in a radio studio lift followed an on-air row in this morning’s LBC Mayoral hustings, which also featured Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddcik and Green Party contender Jenny Jones.
Watch it, from about 1:40:
Here’s what was said:
Boris Johnson: “I’m not going to comment on my tax affairs except to say this, I pay income tax, I’m proud of it, I think it’s pretty repr-, it’s pretty disgraceful to be attacked by Ken Livingstone, someone who’s deliberately set up a tax-dodging manouevre and then denounced everybody else who did so, which does not include me…”
Ken Livingstone: “Boris, you had the same arrangements…”
BJ: “That is a lie, that is an absolute lie…”
KL: “Boris, you had the Finland Station company…”
BJ: “My dear friend, that is an absolute lie, you’ve got to stop lying, you’ve got to stop lying.”
KL: “No, Boris, you had Finland Station, when you was an MP, that handled your television work, because I assumed, are you saying you didn’t have a company called Finland Station, are you saying that’s a lie?”
BJ: “If you’re saying I’d had a company to avoid paying income tax I’m afraid you are absolutely…”
KL: “But I haven’t got a company to avoid paying income tax, like you, I had a company to handle my media.”
Nick Ferrari: “Did you set up your own company called Finland Productions or whatever it might have been?”
BJ: “I have never used a company to minimise my income tax arrangements.”
KL: “That wasn’t the question.”
NF: “Have you set up a company called Finland Independent Films?”
BJ: “There was a TV production company which I was briefly a director of, yes, but I…”
KL: “To handle your TV income…”
NF: “You didn’t use it to explore tax efficiencies?”
BJ: “Absolutely not.”
NF: “No, efficiencies?”
NF: “Always, you paid the full amount?”
BJ: “I always paid full income tax.”
KL: “The simple fact is here Boris and myself are are in the exact same position, we had our main income as an MP…”
NF: “Boris Johnson says he’s not in the same position – Mr Johnson?”
NF: “Ken Livingstone?”
KL: “Well, basically we both had media earnings, we both put them through a company…”
BJ: “No, that’s not true, that’s not true…”
KL: “That’s not to avoid being taxed on that. You don’t avoid tax, you have to pay tax on the money you take out…”
BJ: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, he’s lying, the guy’s a liar, the guy’s a bare-faced liar, he really can’t be allowed to…”
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• Pound for Pound, you’re better off with Ken 13 Mar 2012
Following today’s debate, several questions remain for the Mayor to answer over Finland Station, including:
• Did he pay income tax on all of his earnings from Finland Station? Can he categorically say that he didn’t receive any income through dividends and instead pay capital gains tax of 18% (rather than paying income tax at 40%).
• When he sold his shareholdings in Finland Station to David Jeffcock and Barnaby Spurrier – did he pay income tax on the money that he received at 40%, or capital gains tax at 18%?
• Did he employ anyone?
For all his studio bluster and lift rage, until Boris Johnson comes clean about Finland Station, Londoners may conclude his attacks on Ken Livingstone over tax dodging ring more than a little hollow.