Jimmy Carr: The tip of an iceberg?

Jimmy Carr's run-in with the front pages is said to be the tip of an iceberg with scores of celebrities now waiting in angst

Are Bono and Geldof in line for the Carr treatment?
Jonathan Bracey Gibbon
On 25 June 2012 09:05

We are assured there is more to come in the lefty tax-avoiding bonanza. A new Leveson is mooted. That News International is at the forefront of this represents the most thrilling of touches. I look forward to reading details of Tom Watson's tax return in The Sun, Hugh Grant's off-shore affairs in The Times, and much more…

It seems clear that Jimmy Carr's tax embarrassment could well be the tip of the iceberg. Stick a couple of Belvedere Martinis down the neck of any private banker and they will tell you of countless similar schemes for celebrity clients.

Not that all the rich are hypocritical dodgers.

Two decades ago, one particularly wealthy individual, a tycoon of the day with a Prince-of-Darkness public persona, famously boasted he was a 'fully paid up member of the Inland Revenue'. More seasoned readers may know of whom I speak, the answer in good time.

Either way, he understood in this boast that, as a high net worth individual the tax he contributed would de facto pay for a school or a hospital wing, with the inherent benefit to the nation as both capital assets and employment source. One even got the impression it was a penance of sorts for sins committed in the name of capitalist rapaciousness elsewhere.

It must be no doubt mortifying for Jimmy Carr, that he has vocal support and common cause from none other than Jim Davidson, but I suspect the very many celebrities from the left, like Carr, may have been up till now, blind to the invidiousness of their position, because they exist at the very limits of human experience and emotion, and simply have no concept of the idea of tax responsibility in the context of their own public personae.

Of course much has been made of fact that Carr's real sin was to have had the brass neck to lampoon Barclays on 10 O'Clock Live in the feeble way that he did, knowing that in what he was involved was utterly disgraceful. In the context of Jon Ronson's excellent study on psychopathy, such behaviour is arguably psychotic. Indeed, such a psychosis could explain the excellence of Carr's own oeuvre, notwithstanding his tortuous relationship with his father.

But while his mea culpa is well advised, Jimmy Carr is not Sting. He's a really bright guy who would have known exactly what he'd signed up to. As such, his 'error of judgement' excuse is an insult to the intelligence of all life forms.

And what of the consequences?

When Angus Deayton was booted off Have I Got News For You, it was because Ian Hislop in particular put aside any affection he might have for Deayton, and insisted the programme's credibility simply couldn't sustain Deayton's behaviour. We are still waiting for Messrs Brooker and Mitchell to take a similarly principled stand. To dispatch Carr in a similar fashion is surely the only option for a show struggling with credibility already.

But we are assured there's more to come. Like those titans of hypocritical tax avoidance, U2 - and Geldof for that matter - the colossal scale of this hypocrisy deserves a lifelong loss of moral credibility on all parts. And the Philip Green defence offered by celeb dodgers' apologists won't wash. Whatever Green is, he's not lecturing taxpayers and governments on aid guilt and his enterprise benefits the Treasury in corporation tax and PAYE on a far larger scale, than say, the take from a bunch of roadies, promoters and publicists.

Furthermore, once shamed, there is no way any of these venal types are going to make up the difference. Nor is there much in the way of evidence that their vaunted contributions to the aid debate has yielded anything other than maintenance of a public profile that translates healthily to the bottom line.

Now, that conscience-driven, dutiful, 'fully paid up member of the inland revenue'?

Roland 'Tiny' Rowland.

Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon is a freelance journalist who over the past 15 years has written for The Times, the Financial Times, The Sunday Times and Sunday Express

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