Monday 3 December 2012

The face of hypocrisy

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, has been at the forefront of the fight against tax evasion by large companies in the UK. She delivered a strong public condemnation of the tax affairs of Google, Starbucks and Amazon when the committee questioned some executive members of those companies publicly in November.

The face of hypocrisy - Margaret Hodge

It turns out that Hodge's outrage at tax evasion was driven by guilt rather than anything else. Hodge's own family company Stemcor has only paid £175,000 in corporation tax on an annual turnover of £2.1billion (yes, 2.1billion pounds).

Stemcor is based in the UK and one of the world's largest companies. It is owned by her brother. Hodge is a shareholder of the company. She has now announced that she would sue anybody who repeats the claim that Stemcor is avoiding taxes. She would have to start with Companies House where the filed accounts of her family's company clearly show that Stemcor has paid only 0.01 percent in corporation tax. That is even less than Google, Amazon or Starbucks. 

Hodge is no stranger to scandal. As a councillor for Islington she heaped verbal abuse on a victim of paedophilia and called him an 'extremely disturbed' individual. She later apologised. As a councillor she presided over the cover up of the Care Home scandal in Islington in the 1980s. Inexplicably, given her invidious role in the scandal, she was later made Children's Minister under Tony Blair. 

The reason for this appointment may lie in her roots. Margaret Hodge was born Margaret Oppenheimer. She belongs to one of the richest and best connected Jewish families in the world. Tony Blair may just have been loath to lose her, given that there is always a life after politics. 

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