Miliband stands by Tory peer HSBC tax claims

Labour leader Ed Miliband called on Prime Minister David Cameron to "say what steps he is going to take to find out about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink".

Miliband told journalists, "Lord Fink challenged me to stand by what I said. I do".

Lord Fink admitted taking "vanilla" measures to reduce his liabilities a day after threatening to sue the Labour leader for accusing him of tax avoidance.

HSBC's Geneva office is currently facing allegations that staff encouraged customers to dodge tax.

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ITV News poll shows backing for Miliband over business

A poll for ITV News by ComRes shows people think Ed Miliband is on the side of families. Credit: Hannah McKay/PA

Ed Miliband has been given a boost in relation to some of his recent disputes with business leaders with nearly half of Britons saying he is on the side of the ordinary person according to a new ComRes poll for ITV News.

However, when it comes to the economy David Cameron and the Conservatives are still more trusted than the Labour leader and his party.

The poll found that 49% of Britons think Miliband’s recent disagreements with business leaders including the head of Boots Stefano Pessina show that he is on the side of ordinary people, while 27% think the spats show he is a danger to the British economy.

Only 22% of people trust the Conservatives to stand up to big business but 30% think Labour is most likely to.

However, 36% of people asked think Miliband is a danger to the British economy while 38% think he is not.

Below are some other key findings from the poll:

Think Ed Miliband can be trusted to see the country through the current economic situation
Think David Cameron can be trusted to see the country through the current economic situation
Trust Labour to promote economic growth
Trust the Conservatives to promote UK economic growth

ComRes interviewed 2,003 British adults online between February 6th-8th 2015 on behalf of ITV News and the poll was conducted before the recent row over tax avoidance.


Fink: Miliband's comments are 'major climbdown'

Lord Fink has said Ed Miliband stopping short of repeating his full comments about him as he did in the Commons yesterday was a "major climbdown".

Yesterday I challenged Ed Miliband to repeat the accusations he made in the Commons - that I used an HSBC bank account to avoid tax and that I was a 'dodgy donor'. He did not. This is a major climbdown by a man who is willing to smear without getting his facts straight."

– Lord Fink

Miliband stands by Lord Fink claims outside Commons

Ed Miliband has stood by his claims that Lord Fink was avoiding paying tax through HSBC outside the Commons.

The Labour leader said: "You may have noticed this government likes to talk big on tax avoidance but it acts small.

"Yesterday, the Conservative donor Lord Fink challenged me to stand by what I said in the House of Commons, that he was engaging in tax avoidance activities. I do."

Making comments outside parliament means he loses any parliamentary privilege which could protect him from legal action.

But he stopped short of calling Lord Fink "dodgy", for which the Tory donor had threatened to sue him for.

It comes after Fink admitted to "vanilla" tax avoidance today.

Tory donor Lord Fink admits 'vanilla' tax avoidance

Lord Fink is David Cameron's chief fundraiser. Credit: PA

Lord Fink has admitted taking "vanilla" measures to reduce his liabilities a day after threatening to sue Ed Miliband for accusing him of tax avoidance.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, the Tory donor said: "The expression tax avoidance is so wide that everyone does tax avoidance at some level."

He added: "I chose the mildest end of the spectrum that I was advised on. What I did ... was at the vanilla, bland, end of the spectrum."

The hedge fund millionaire told the paper he "used the opportunity ... to set up some simple family trusts" while on a four-year posting to Switzerland.

But he claimed he paid tax on all the dividends, both in Switzerland and the UK.

Miliband 'standing by Fink tax avoidance' comments

Ed Miliband is prepared to repeat allegations that former Tory party treasurer Stanley Fink engaged in "tax avoidance activities" without the cloak of parliamentary privilege, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has indicated.

Lord Fink said the comments by the Labour leader in the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions were "untrue and defamatory".

Miliband standing by Fink 'tax avoidance' comments Credit: PA Wire

But interviewed on BBC 2's Newsnight, Ms Harman insisted Mr Miliband stood by the comments he made during heated exchanges with David Cameron over allegations that HSBC's Swiss banking arm had helped thousands of clients avoid UK taxes.

Ms Harman said: "He stands by the assertion that these questions must be answered that ... there are concerns about tax avoidance."


Lord Paul says it is 'disgraceful' PM singled him out as HSBC Swiss account holder

Lord Paul has denied allegations made today that singled him out as being a HSBC Swiss account holder, saying he thinks it is 'disgraceful' that Prime Minister David Cameron named him without checking his facts.

Lord Paul addressed the allegations in a TV interview:

The peer also added that the claims made in the Commons were untrue and he had "closed his Swiss account about four years ago".

Lord Fink: Miliband's tax avoidance comments 'untrue and defamatory'

Lord Fink has denied allegations made by Ed Miliband in the Commons today that suggested he had been part of the HSBC tax scandal and had undertaken tax avoidance activities in Switzerland.

In a statement read out this evening Lord Fink said it was an "allegation that was both untrue and defamatory."

The Tory peer also stated that the reason he previously had a bank account in Switzerland was because he was working in the country at the time and was in need of a local account.

Watch the full statement here:

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