DAVID Cameron has confirmed that he and his wife Samantha owned shares in an offshore trust set up by his late father, before selling them for £30,000 in 2010.
The Prime Minister has faced intense pressure to detail his interests since the Panama Papers leaks included details of Blairmore Holdings – which used “bearer shares” to protect investors’ privacy.
In a TV interview, he insisted he did not have “anything to hide” and that it was a “fundamental misconception” that it was set up to avoid tax, saying his father Ian was being “unfairly written about”.
He added that while his and Samantha’s profit from the scheme was “subject to all the UK taxes in the normal ways”, it came to just below the threshold at which capital gains tax would have applied.
Mr Cameron also repeated his willingness to publish his own tax returns.
Earlier in the week when pushed for a response he claimed that he, his wife and children do not benefit from offshore funds and that they would not do so in future.
Labour’s John Mann insisted Mr Cameron should resign and labelled the Prime Minister a “hypocrite”.
The Treasury select committee member wrote on Twitter: “Cameron has been less than honest. He should resign immediately. Most decent people would expect nothing less.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson described Mr Cameron’s remarks as an “extraordinary admission”, adding the Prime Minister may have to resign although it is “too early to tell”.
Mr Watson said: “Given that he claimed that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’, why has it taken six years for this to come to light?
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, wrote on Twitter: “Looks like David Cameron is totally losing the news agenda and public trust.”
Number 10 said Mr and Mrs Cameron bought their holding in April 1997 for £12,497 and sold it in January 2010 for £31,500. The annual personal allowance for an individual in 2009-10 was £10,100 – meaning jointly the profit was just outside the threshold.
Downing Street had initially said it was a private matter before first clarifying that the Prime Minister had no offshore funds and trusts and then making clear the family would not benefit in future either.
“I paid income tax on the dividends, but there was a profit on it but it was less than the capital gains tax allowance, so I didn’t pay capital gains tax, but it was subject to all the UK taxes in all the normal ways,” Mr Cameron told ITV News.
“So I want to be as clear as I can about the past, about the present, about the future, because frankly, I don’t have anything to hide.
“I’m proud of my dad and what he did and the business he established and all the rest of it. I can’t bear to see his name being dragged through the mud, as you can see, and for my own.”
Mr Cameron said it had been “a difficult few days” since the mass leak of records from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca as he launched a defence of his father, who died in 2010.
Ian Cameron was a director of Blairmore Holdings Inc, which, until 2006, used unregistered “bearer shares” to protect its clients’ privacy. His use of the firm to help shield investments from
UK tax helped build up a significant legacy, part of which was inherited by the Prime Minister.
There is no suggestion that this avoidance arrangement or others exposed by the leak were anything but entirely legal.
Mr Cameron said: “I think a lot of the criticisms are based on a fundamental misconception, which is that Blairmore Investment, a unit trust, was set up with the idea of avoiding tax.
“It wasn’t. It was set up after exchange controls went, so that people who wanted to invest in dollar-denominated shares and companies could do so, and there are many other, thousands of other unit trusts set up in this way.
“It was reported to the HMRC, the Inland Revenue. It reported itself every year. It was properly audited.”