‘Tax dodger’ George Osborne ads put UK papers in a spin

An anti-tax dodger group called 38 Degrees has raised enough money from somewhere to run a UK national newspaper campaign accusing coalition government chancellor George Osborne, who’s supposed to be cracking down on tax-dodging companies, of being one himself.

It says he benefited from £1.6m inheritance tax savings himself by using offshore trusts. Osborne’s family own the posh wallpaper company Osborne & Little.

In the event the ad ran in the Guardian, Independent and the Indy’s bite-sized i while the Telegraph turned it down, saying it might be libellous, while the Mail (initially at least) just upped the price. Mail-owned free paper Metro turned it down.

This particularly divide could be on political or libertarian grounds or just indicate that the Guardian and the Indy are more hard up than the others.

Whatever, it’s hard to envisage Osborne suing the Telegraph let alone all of Fleet Street.

Tax dodging will be a big issue in the UK this year as belts are tightened. UK voters have a rather ambivalent attitude to it, mostly being quite prepared to accept or pay cash but dead against slippery corporations and fat cats.

And our youthful chancellor is shaping up nicely as (most of) the nation’s favourite hate figure. The capitalist silk top hat in the ad really rather suits him.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.