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Osborne on the offensive over Ashcroft tax status

SHADOW chancellor George Osborne yesterday went on the offensive after being quizzed over the tax status of Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft in a TV interview, hitting back by calling into question the tax position of Labour donor Lord Paul.

Speaking on Sky News, Osborne appeared visibly rattled at questions regarding Ashcroft, snapping: “You have Labour politicians on this show every Sunday and you never ask them that question.” He added that Ashcroft – the party’s biggest donor – is “entitled to a private relationship with the Inland Revenue”.

Paul, who is also thought to be non-domiciled for tax purposes, has built one of the world’s biggest steel companies, Caparo, and is a well-known Labour backer.

Osborne’s counter-attack come after weeks of stormy debate over whether Ashcroft is considered a non-dom for tax purposes. Ashcroft pledged to become a permanent UK resident when he became a peer a decade ago, but has since consistently refused to clarify his status.

He is also courting controversy over an Electoral Commission enquiry into his vehicle Bearwood Corporate Services, which is not recorded in the latest register of Lords interests.

Tory chairman Eric Pickles was also questioned on Radio 4 about Ashcroft’s tax status.