Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected calls for Take That star Gary Barlow to hand back his OBE over claims the pop star invested in a tax avoidance scheme.
Mr Cameron said he did not think that removing the honour from Barlow was “necessary”.
The Prime Minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I mean Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country, he has raised money for charity, he has done very well for Children in Need, so I’m not sure... the OBE is in respect of that work and what he has done.
“But clearly what this scheme was was wrong and it is right that they are going to have to pay back the money.”
Mr Cameron repeated his condemnation of “aggressive” tax avoidance schemes.
“I am against these aggressive tax avoidance schemes but I am not just against them – this Government has taken a huge amount of steps to legislate and toughen the laws and go after aggressive tax avoidance schemes for the very simple reason that if people go after these schemes and aggressively avoid tax they are making it the case that everyone else has to pay higher taxes as a result,” he said.
Barlow, 43, and two other members of Take That refused to comment on reports over the weekend that they face having to pay tens of millions of pounds in tax after a court ruled a partnership in which they invested was a tax avoidance scheme.
The singer along with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild invested £66 million into two partnerships styled as music industry investment schemes, according to reports.
Judge Colin Bishopp ruled that 51 partnerships set up by Icebreaker Management were to secure tax relief for members and HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment.
Mr Cameron added on Good Morning Britain: “I think we should be very clear, tax evasion is illegal, and for that, you can be prosecuted, you can go to prison for tax evasion.
“Tax avoidance is, in these cases, these very aggressive tax avoidance schemes, they are wrong, and we should really persuade people not to do them.”