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Boris and Ken clash over tax

London Mayor Boris Johnson and his rival Ken Livingston during a radio debate Credit: PA

Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson clashed furiously over their tax arrangements in the first live debate ahead of the mayoral elections.

Mr Johnson denied suggestions he had used a company to channel his media earnings to avoid paying income tax - a claim that he has levelled at his Labour opponent.

Mr Livingstone accused the mayor of having "the same arrangements" for dealing with his media earnings as he had, insisting he had used a company called Finland Station.

Mr Johnson called the claim "lies", adding: "I have never used a company to minimise my tax.

"There was a TV production company which I was briefly a director of but I certainly never ... I have always paid full income tax."

  1. Simon Harris, London Tonight Political Correspondent

Boris and Ken 'nose to nose' in furious lift row

London Mayor Boris Johnson with rival Ken Livingstone Credit: Reuters

Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone were involved in a furious row in the lift after the London mayoral debate at LBC Radio. Sources say Johnson and Livingstone were "nose to nose" and Johnson 's face was "red with rage".

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Livingstone denies tax dodge

Ken Livingstone is standing to be London Mayor again Credit: Press Association

Ken Livingstone insisted he had not avoided paying tax, claiming he was victim of a "smear campaign", during the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Mr Livingstone, who has campaigned against tax avoidance, has come under attack in recent weeks amid claims he was paid via a company so he was only liable for corporation tax at 20%.

Mr Livingstone said: "I am in exactly the same position as everybody else who has a small business. I mean, I get loads of money, all from different sources, and I give it to an accountant and they manage it.

"You pay corporation tax. If you then take out spending yourself, you have to pay more. What I am not doing is paying income tax on the money I use to employ other people."

Boris Johnson attacks 'tax dodging' rival

London Mayor Boris Johnson has launched a scathing attack on his rival Ken livingstone Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson launched his mayoral re-election campaign with a colourful attack on his "tax dodging" opponent Ken Livingstone.

The Mayor of London accused his predecessor of being a "hypocrite" as well as a "glove puppet" for trade unions.

Mr Johnson, addressing a Conservative Party spring forum, said: "I see a risk that City Hall will be recaptured by a bunch of semi-reformed Trotskyist, car-hating, (Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez idolising, newt fancying, tax dodging, bank bashing hypocrites and bendy bus fetishists."

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