Cameron under pressure to come clean

British PM admits he profited from father’s offshore fund; critics accuse him of hypocrisy.

April 09, 2016 12:33 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:29 pm IST

PILLORIED: David Cameron’s remarks in his interview with ITV do not seem to have satisfied his detractors, who say he should have made these admissions earlier. Photo: AP

PILLORIED: David Cameron’s remarks in his interview with ITV do not seem to have satisfied his detractors, who say he should have made these admissions earlier. Photo: AP

David Cameron’s admission to a private television channel — coming five days after the Panama Papers revealed details of his late father’s offshore tax investments — that he did in fact hold shares in the company before he became the British Prime Minister in 2010, has put him under pressure from opposition parties to come clean on his previous financial arrangements.

Coming clean is what Mr. Cameron tried to do in his interview with ITV, but it does not seem to have satisfied his critics who say he should have made these admissions earlier. Mr. Cameron told the ITV news channel that he and his wife Samantha Cameron held 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, his father’s offshore company, which he sold for £31,500 just before he became the Prime Minister. “I sold it in January 2010, because I didn’t want anyone to say that I had other agendas or vested interests.”

He said he paid income tax on the dividends, but as the £19,000 profit was less than the capital gains tax allowance, he did not pay capital gains tax. However, it was subject to all U.K. taxes. Mr. Cameron also said he inherited a sum of £300,000 from his late father. “I obviously can’t point to the source of every bit of money and dad’s not around for me to ask the questions now,” Mr. Cameron said in his interview.

10 Downing had issued four statements after the Panama Papers revelations to say that Mr. Cameron did not own any offshore funds.

This is true, but it was the delay in his admission that he owned shares in the past that has attracted the charges of “hypocrisy” and “untrustworthiness” that his opponents are making.

Mr. Cameron will have to explain why it took five days to issue a statement regarding the issue when Parliament meets on Monday after the Easter break, especially in the context of the passionate moralising he has indulged in recently on the issue of tax-avoidance.

The Labour Party has asked him to provide full disclosure on his past and present finances to Parliament. Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, told the BBC that Mr. Cameron had not broken the law but that his action was “ethically wrong”. “He has to stand up for the highest standards,” Mr. Watson said, adding journalists had to squeeze the truth out of him. Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz told The Hindu that he does not think the Prime Minister should resign over the issue.

In a statement, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, said the admission had left the Prime Minister’s “credibility in tatters — and completely betrays public trust”.

The Prime Minister is already under pressure from within his own party for sending out leaflets to 2.5 million homes urging them to vote against leaving the European Union in the referendum on June 23. This cost the tax-payer £ 9 million, they allege.

Rating slips Meanwhile, a latest YouGov poll, taken in the wake of revelations in the Panama Papers, showed that Cameron's approval rating has slipped.

According to the survey, the Prime Minister’s rating has slipped to 34 per cent compared to 39 per cent in a similar poll in February.

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