Jeremy Hunt Eventually Denies Having Ever Paid A Tax Penalty
Jeremy Hunt has denied ever having paid a tax penalty, after initially refusing to do so.
It comes as pressure grows on Rishi Sunak to sack Nadhim Zahawi over his tax affairs.
Speaking in central London on Friday morning, Hunt was asked twice if he had ever paid a fine to HMRC.
“I’m not going to talk about my personal tax affairs, but I don’t think there’s anything you’d find interesting to write about if I can put it that way,” the chancellor said.
Asked again, Hunt said: “I’m not going to talk about my personal tax affairs. I don’t think people at home are remotely interested in personal tax affairs.”
The chancellor later clarified to broadcasters that he had not paid a penalty. “I don’t normally comment about my own tax records. But, I am chancellor, so, for the record: I haven’t paid a HMRC fine.”
The Conservative Party chairman is under investigation by the prime minister’s ethics adviser over a multimillion-pound dispute with the tax authorities.
Zahawi paid a penalty as part of an estimated £4.8 million settlement with HMRC during his brief time as chancellor last year.
Sunak has said he will wait until the inquiry is complete before making a decision about his cabinet ally’s future.
Downing Street has said Sunak has never paid a tax penalty, having initially also refused to discuss the PM’s personal finances.
In 2018, Hunt was found to have breached money laundering rules. He also avoided a £100,000 tax bill shortly before the 2010 general election that saw the Conservatives take power.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has said Sunak’s decision not to sack Zahawi immediately shows he is “weak”.
Earlier, another senior Tory also called for Zahawi to “step aside”. Jake Berry, who was Conservative Party chair during Liz Truss’ tenure as PM, said it was “unsustainable” for his successor to remain in post while under investigation.