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BBC broadcaster John Simpson admits tax avoidance

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John Simpson

© Rex Features / Kazam Media

Veteran BBC broadcaster John Simpson has admitted to using a tax avoidance scheme, but stressed that he is no longer involved in the controversial practice.

The BBC World Affairs editor said that he had placed his London home in a Bahamas-based company controlled by his wife.

The approach, which is legal but considered by some to be morally suspect, meant that Simpson could avoid inheritance tax or stamp duty land tax on a future sale of the home, which he purchased for £1.85m in 2004.

The tax arrangements of high-profile figures have been in the spotlight recently, after revelations about the avoidance schemes allegedly used by comedian Jimmy Carr and Take That star Gary Barlow.

In an interview with The Independent, Simpson said that he had already decided to end his own arrangement, meaning the house would go back into the couple's name.

He said that it was the "absolutely right" thing to do, and insisted that he made the decision before the current scandal about other celebrities' tax affairs.

> Frankie Boyle denies tax avoidance claims
> Lauryn Hill pleads guilty to tax evasion, faces three years in prison

"I pay rather a lot of tax," Simpson told the paper. "It's absolutely right for a citizen of this country to pay whatever amount of tax, within reason, the government of the day feels is required.

"It's painful but I think that's part of the duties of a citizen of this country."

Also in the interview, Simpson acknowledged the criticism of viewers about the BBC's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and said that it would have been better with David Dimbleby.

"I missed David Dimbleby so much," said Simpson. "I do find it a bit weird that we've got this state-of-the-art Rolls-Royce that for some reason we don't always bring out for these occasions."

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