Archive for the ‘duchy of cornwall’ Category

During the course of my Ph. D. research I made a number of Freedom of Information Requests. In some I succeeded in getting the information I requested in other cases I did not. 
There was one matter which related to a record held in the National Archive which was marked closed and which the National Archive refused to open in which decision they were supported by the Information Commissioner. I decided to pursue the matter to a Tribunal hearing. I had no realistic prospect of success; I was interested, as a lawyer, to see how the process worked.
Of course, like everyone I have heard of the term “the establishment” but had no personal experience of it. Immediately we arrived in Court on the first day it was made clear to me what the expression meant. We were three, my legal executive, my barrister and myself. I lost count of the number of lawyers employed by those opposing us. They included a QC a further two barristers and I don’t know how many solicitors including the regular attendance of a solicitor from the firm which represents the Queen. The court was also attended by a number of senior civil servants. The witnesses they called included three Knights of the Realm. In summary matched against us there were nineteen people. Indeed there was hardly enough space to include all those attending. The case was originally scheduled for two days but in fact extended over three. During the course of the case there was discussion, albeit theoretical, about whether I was in breach of Parliamentary Privilege and could be imprisoned.
I have no knowledge of what the cost of the hearing was given the resources which the other side devoted to defending the case. Suffice to say we the tax payers paid the bills not the Duchy or Duke of Cornwall. After the case was completed I was told via a third party that someone in the Cabinet Office stated “I had no idea how much trouble I had caused” and my barrister was informed in the gentle round about way these things are done maybe he would think carefully before taking on a similar case.
I discovered from this experience there is an establishment which is peopled by anonymous men in grey suits. Furthermore even though my case was in many ways trivial and stood no realistic chance of success if you take on the establishment and specifically the Duke of Cornwall the establishment can and will deploy resources against you which an ordinary private citizen cannot hope to match. Finally I will admit the experience was intimidating and not one which I shall forget quickly.
John Kirkhopes new book – An Introduction to the Laws of the Duchy of Cornwall, The Scilly Isles and Devon – is now available in all good bookshops.

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network. (Article here)

A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis. (Article here)

The Tax Justice NetworkTackle Tax HavensTreasure Islands

Next time someone extols the benefits of tightening our collective belts in these times of economic hardship and/or suggests that illegal/legal immigrants (do they even know the difference?) and benefits scroungers are bankrupting the UK then please feel free to point out some important home truths. Undoubtedly the populist nationalist right and their lackeys in the UK press would love us all to keep our eyes off the ball and continue searching for some ragged scapegoat or other but they are a drop in the ocean compared to the tax evasion of the super rich and large corporations. If there is one issue that could unite the left across various ideological frontiers then surely tax evasion is it.  
In Cornwall we have our very own tax haven but it only seems to work for one man. The extract below is taken form John Kirkhopes The Duchy of Cornwall – A Very Peculiar Private Estate.

Firstly it should be noted that the Duke of Cornwall is entitled to the income of the Duchy but not the capital.

Next, in the report issued by the House of Commons in 2005 it was stated: “In accordance with normal practice the Duchy is not subject to tax as it is not a separate legal entity for tax purposes. However, His Royal Highness is subject to income tax on the Duchy’s net income.”

The statement is surprising and difficult to understand. Effectively, the Duchy is exempt from capital gains tax and presumably inheritance tax. Asset sales, on which capital gains tax may potentially have been due, have totalled £123 million since 2001. Presumably this considerable benefit makes the task of running a ‘well managed’ private estate much easier.

It is in this regard that the Duchy website is misleading. It states: “The Prince of Wales already pays income tax on the Duchy’s surplus.”

He does not. He pays voluntarily an amount equal to the income tax he would have paid if he had been liable.

In reply to a question from the public accounts committee Mr Ross stated: “The Prince pays tax on a voluntary basis in exactly the same way as any other taxpayers.”

I don’t know how many of us pay tax on a voluntary basis.

The Duchy enjoys a highly privileged tax status unique to a ‘private estate’. In accordance with ‘normal practice’ it does not pay capital gains tax or inheritance tax and income tax is paid on a voluntary basis. The last figures published show the Duke’s income from the Duchy was £16 million. His voluntary contribution, equal to the income tax, would be £3 million.For completeness sake the Duchy does pay VAT. 
BBC News – Cornish Peer calls for Duchy of Cornwall overhaul: The Duchy of Cornwall should be radically overhauled, according to a Cornish Labour peer. 
Well done to Lord Berkeley and – not wanting to take away from his actions – it should still be pointed out that he is following a track well beaten by our Cornish constitutionalists. Activists who have tirelessly tried to expose the constitutional con that is the Duchy of Cornwall. I wonder if a certain anonymous Labour blog, that refuses the right of reply, will now stop trying to tell us all that the Duchy is not a problem? 
Lord Berkeley, rather timidly, calls for the Duchy to be ‘overhauled’. Why stop there? I want the dam thing overthrown! This Cornish Republican wants the Duchy abolished. Of course the incomes from the Duchy should be invested for the benefit of the inhabitants of Kernow but equally all the constitutional rights and powers of the Duchy should be handed over to a democratically elected Cornish parliament. 
When will the people of Cornwall get a true democracy? 
Found on the Confirm or Deny blog. Click on image to read.