Press release: Flagship Topshop Closed Amid National Protests Against Tax Avoidance


email: ukuncut@gmail.com
twitter: @ukuncut #ukuncut
tel:   07591992825
www.ukuncut.org
For Immediate Release

FLAGSHIP TOPSHOP CLOSED AMID NATIONAL PROTESTS AGAINST TAX AVOIDANCE

  • Topshop Oxford Street, the biggest fashion retail store in the world, is occupied and shut down by hundreds of protesters.
  • Day of action against tax avoidance targets Sir Philip Green and Vodafone as well as other corporations as the focus of public anger
  • 23 different towns and cities have come out in protest
  • UK Uncut launches ‘Big Society Revenue and Customs’

Amid growing public anger over the cuts, protests over tax avoidance by big business and wealthy individuals have hit high streets up and down the country today.

Under the banner of ‘UK Uncut’ [1], 23 different towns and cities have so far protested against the tax avoidance conducted by Boots Alliance and Vodafone [2].

However it has been Sir Philip Green and his fashion empire – Arcadia – which spreads across 2,500 UK stores and includes top brands such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins that has born the brunt of the protests today[4].

On Oxford Street, London, a sit-in forced the five-storey flagship Topshop store to close, before protesters moved onto close BHS, Vodafone, Boots, and Dorothy Perkins.

In Brighton, 18 activists were arrested following the shut down of a Topshop, where protests super-glued themselves to the window.

Vodafone and Topshops stores were closed in a further 6 cities – Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford Newcastle – with protests occuring in an additional 13 locations – Southampton,  Stroud, Portsmouth, Lewisham, Reading, Wood Green, York, Liecester, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, Cambridge and  Edinburgh.

Sir Philip Green’s empire Acardia is owned by Taveta Investments Limited – a holding company registered to a small office on the tax-haven island of Jersey [5].

Sir Philip Green is not however the official owner of Taveta Investments. Instead, the owners are his wife and immediate family, who reside in Monaco[6].

Monaco is of course famous for its 0% income tax. As a result, when Sir Philip Green – the 9th richest man in the UK with wealth estimated at £4.4bn in 2008 [7] – in 2005 made the largest single dividend payout in UK corporate history to his wife of £1.2bn, he avoided paying a reported £285million in tax to the British public purse[8].

Amid criticism from key MPs, Sir Philip Green was also asked by the coalition government this year to advise them on austerity and cuts within the civil service [9].

Daniel Garvin, 26, said “Philip Green is a multi-billionaire tax avoider, and yet is regarded by David Cameron as an appropriate man to advise the government on austerity. His missing millions need to be reclaimed and invested into public services, not into his wife’s bank account.”

Today has also seen the launch of the ‘Big Society Revenue and Customs’ (BSRC) by UK Uncut [10], following the announcement that HM Revenue and Customs faces thousands of job cuts following a 15% cut in its budget [11].

Commenting on the launch of BSRC, Daniel Garvin said: “David Cameron wants ordinary people in their spare time to carry out vital state run services that have been cut, so this is exactly what we’re doing. If HMRC won’t chase down tax avoiders, then we will.”

Today’s protests are expected to be just the first in a series of actions against Philip Green and other corporations by the BSRC across the Christmas period.

This follows on from protests against the communications giant, Vodafone, last month that resulted in over 30 of its stores being closed by ordinary people who blockaded and picketed its entrances to stop trading [12].

Those protests were sparked after the corporation reached a ‘settlement’ on a long standing tax dispute with HMRC earlier this year, following the change in government. Some experts believe the deal meant that Vodafone saved up to £6bn in tax [13].

On Saturday 30th of October all three Vodafone Stores were closed for the day on Oxford Street, London.

Rebecca Davies, 32, said: “The cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society the hardest are based on ideology, not necessity. There is an alternative.”

“the tax gap in the UK is an estimated £120bn [14], £25 billion of this down to tax avoidance by extremely wealthy individuals and big business [15], while the government is barely lifting a finger to stop it.”

Reflecting on the day she continued, “Today ordinary people around Britain stood up and showed that will not let these unnecessary cuts happen without a fight.”

ENDS
………………………………………..
For further comment:
UKUNCUT: | ukuncut@gmail.com | 07591992825
……………………………………….

Notes to Editor:

[1] Details can be seen on the website www.ukuncut.org

[2] http://ukuncut.org/actions  Has all the details of the actions around
the country.

[3]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/29/philip-green-protest-alleged-tax-avoidance

[4] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html  Arcadia also own,
Burton, Wallis, Evans and Topman.

[5] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html
And the office in jersey was shown by Channel 4’s Dispatches broadcast on
Monday 18th October.
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-72/episode-1

[6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/nov/03/money

[7] The Sunday Times Richlist from 2008:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Times_Rich_List_2008

[8]
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/08/13/sir-philip-green-the-wrong-man-to-head-a-review-of-public-spending/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/analysis-the-rich-get-richer-in-poor-old-britain-470417.html
This independent article states: when Sir Philip Green paid his divident he
financed it by taking out a loan. Although this is a common form of
financial engineering in privately owned companies, it had the benefit of
cutting Arcadia’s corporation tax bill, as the interest charges on the loan
could be offset against profits. In this way, wealth was simply being
redistributed from taxpayers to Mr Green’s family.

[9]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/13/philip-green-eficiency-savings
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/19/philip-green-liberal-democrats-tax

[10] Please see www.ukuncut.org for a full explanation on the thinking
behind the BSRC.The BSRC logo is also available to download on the website.

[11]
http://www.accountancymagazine.com/croner/jsp/Editorial.do?channelId=-305535&contentId=1707614&Failed_Reason=No+BVCookie+present+to+retrieve+the+session.&Failed_Page=/jsp/Editorial.do&BV_UseBVCookie=No

[12] Please see www.ukuncut.org for details

[13] The original investigation was completed by Richard Brookes, a tax
inspector, at Private-Eye, but has since been written about by other
journalists.
http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=514832&in_page_id=2
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/vodafone-tax-evasion-revenue-customs

[14] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue
of tax justice has produced a report stating that £120bn is the tax gap to
britain.
http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/features/2010/10/there-is-an-alternative/

[15] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue
of tax-avoidance has produced a report stating that 25bn is lost to the
public purse by tax avoidance. £13bn through individuals. £12bn through
large corporations.
http://www.tuc.org.uk/touchstone/Missingbillions/1missingbillions.pdf