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A story in the Evening Standard today exposes Ken Livingstone as a hypocrite on two counts. Firstly there is Mr Livingstone's attack on "rich bastards" who engage in tax avoidance. Secondly, there is his demand that the Mayor of London should do no other paid work.

But what about when Mr Livingstone was Mayor of London. It emerges that he was earning money on the side from media appearances and that he  channelled the fees through a company. The tax on dividends at 32.5% would have been lower than the 40% rate Income Tax if he had been paid the money direct.

The Evening Standard has discovered that between 2000 and 2006, when he was Mayor, thousands of pounds paid for media appearances were paid via Localaction Ltd.

Mr Livingstone says he "never got round to winding it up" that "everything" was "given to a charity for the education of children who had had their fathers killed in India."


Of course. Lots of rich people are busy and come up with ingenious ways to reduce their tax bills but are happy to make generous donations to charity. The problem is that Mr Livingstone hasn't always shown himself entirely sympathetic to that sort of explanation when it has come from others.

People can be so cynical. So wouldn't the best thing be, to reassure the more sceptical Londoners, for him to release his bank statements and tax returns for that period?

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