Tory vice-chairman Lord Ashcroft has come under renewed attack over the
extent of his funding for the Tory election campaign after confirming he has
retained “non-dom” tax status.
He sought to minimise criticism with a new pledge to pay full UK tax if the
ban on “non-doms” sitting in the House of Lords – backed by party leader David
Cameron – takes effect later this year.
Cameron claimed to be “delighted” the issue on which he has faced repeated
questioning had come into the open and accused Labour of receiving funds from ”
But Justice Secretary Jack Straw said the Tories were covering up Lord
Ashcroft’s failure to live up to pledges given in 1990 when he received his
peerage, claiming there was an attempt to redefine them.
And Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said it was “wholly wrong” for a ”
non-dom” to fund an election campaign.
In a statement on his website Lord Ashcroft said: “Throughout the last 10
years, I have been declaring all my UK income to HM Revenue. My precise tax
status therefor is that of a ‘non-dom’.
“While I value my privacy, I do not want my affairs to distract from the
general election campaign.”
His declaration came days before the deadline set by the Information
Commissioner for the publication of official papers on the assurances he gave
when ennobled, insisting there was a legitimate public interest
Ashcroft released the text of a letter he sent to former Tory leader William
Hague pledging to take up “permanent residence” and he explained in his
statement this meant he would be “a long term resident”. It made no mention of
his tax status.
Straw insisted the peerage was only granted on the basis Lord Ashcroft would
return to the UK, become fully resident and pay tax in the UK on his wider
Cameron said Lord Ashcroft’s statement “clears that up completely”.
The ban on “non-doms” sitting in the Lords was inserted in the Constitution
Bill with Tory support.
Clegg said anyone wishing to get stuck into British politics should pay full
The statement provoked new calls for the Electoral Commission to publish the
results of its investigation into whether millions of pounds donated to the
Tories by Lord Ashcroft through Bearwood Corporate Service, a UK-registered
company, were in breach of laws banning overseas donations.
Much of the money is understood to have been used bolstering support in key
The Tories denied Ashcroft was their biggest contributor
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