PMQs descends into mud-slinging match as Cameron and Miliband attempt to distance themselves from HSBC tax taint

 
Catherine Neilan
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HSBC dominated PMQs today (Source: Getty)
HSBC dominated Prime Minister's Questions today as David Cameron and Ed Miliband traded insults over which party had closest ties to those clients on the list of alleged tax evaders.
The two took turns to sling mud at each other over the matter, with the Labour leader describing his counterpart as a "dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors".
Cameron meanwhile claimed Miliband and Ed Balls “were the friend of the tax dodger”, insisting the Tories were “the friend of the taxpayer”.
The explosive session started when Miliband highlighted a Guardian article detailing the number of Tory donors and peers, as well as MP Zac Goldsmith, who legally held accounts at HSBC's Swiss subsidiary, describing a “revolving door” between the party and the bank. He said Cameron was “up to his neck on this”.
Cameron hit back noting the number of Labour donors also on the list, adding that "people should always pay their taxes". He went on to highlight the support given to Labour by the unions.
Miliband then called on Cameron to explain why former HSBC boss Stephen Green had been appointed as a trade minister in 2010 and questioned how it was possible that no conversation relating to the matter had taken place in the following three years.
"This is the behaviour we saw of [former No 10 communications director] Andy Coulson,” he said "There is something rotten at the heart of the Tory party and it's him."
The question of Cameron's relationship with Green was raised by two other Labour MPs – Sharon Hodgson and Phil Wilson – but the Prime Minister insisted the appointment followed due process.
Cameron added: “I made the appointment, it was welcomed by Labour and three years later they were still holding meetings with him.”
During the course of PMQs, Richmond Park MP Goldsmith released a statement regarding his inclusion on the Guardian's list of people who legally held accounts in Switzerland with HSBC's private bank.
It said: "It has never been a secret that I am a beneficiary of a Trust set up by my late father and administered by a family Office in Geneva. Indeed this was widely discussed before the last election. This report adds nothing to that old story.
"To be clear, my very numerous family members around the world who are beneficiaries of the same Trust do not own or control it, but like me, they receive income from it. I have never had a Swiss bank account, and do not control any Swiss bank accounts. I have never sought or been given tax minimisation advice by HSBC, directly or indirectly. The media commentary around this is therefore wrong.
"The fact is that I receive an income from an international trust, and I have paid taxes in full on all the income or capital gains I have received, irrespective of where these arise. HMRC are aware of the structure set up by my father and has never requested any 'back taxes' at all. Nor do they have any reason to.
"On the issue of my contributions to the Conservative Party, they are a matter of public record and the vast majority are 'notional' and relate to use of offices over the past ten years. Finally, it has been said that I relinquished the non-dom status I inherited from my father only after public pressure. This is wrong. I voluntarily relinquished it long before anyone ever approached me about the issue."

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