Barlow urged to return OBE over tax

Take That star Gary Barlow is facing calls to hand back his OBE over claims he invested in a tax avoidance scheme.

Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, and Mark Owen have been accused of investing in a tax avoidance scheme
Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, and Mark Owen have been accused of investing in a tax avoidance scheme

Prime Minister David Cameron hit out at "aggressive" tax avoiders while senior MPs from across the political spectrum waded in to voice their displeasure.

The singer and two other members of Take That refused to comment on reports over the weekend that they face having to pay tens of millions of pounds in tax after a court ruled a partnership in which they invested was a tax avoidance scheme.

Barlow along with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild invested £66 million into two-partnerships styled as music-industry investment schemes, according to reports.

Judge Colin Bishopp ruled that 51 partnerships set up by Icebreaker Management were to secure tax relief for members and HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment.

It was alleged in 2012 that Barlow, Donald, Owen and Wild invested at least £26 million in a scheme run by Icebreaker Management.

At the time Take That's lawyers insisted the bandmates believed the investments were legitimate enterprises and that all four named paid "significant tax".

Mr Cameron told The Times: "I am opposed to all aggressive tax avoidance."

Barlow, who has previously been seen on the campaign trail with Mr Cameron, masterminded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert and was given an honour f or services to the entertainment industry and to charity in 2012.

Labour's Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, who has brought a spotlight to bear on tax avoidance, said Barlow "might want to show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE".

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: "People who don't pay the taxes that they should undermine the economy, damage our public services and place an extra, unfair burden on hard-working families and companies who play by the rules."

Conservative Charlie Elphicke told the newspaper: "People who have seriously abused the tax system should be stripped of their honours."