McCluskey hits back at The Times over VAT claims

After The Times suggested this morning that Unite might have questions to answer over tax avoidance, the union have hit back this afternoon, labeling the report “tendentious and highly misleading”, and questioning why HMRC reports were being leaked to the media:

“Today’s Times has carried a tendentious and highly misleading account of Unite’s VAT payments.  It must be a matter of great public concern that confidential tax correspondence is now leaking from HMRC, doubtless on account of political pressure.”

As for why the issue arose, McCluskey claims that the confusion arose from different policies being adopted by different unions (Amicus and T&G) at the time of Unite’s merger:

“On the substance of the allegations raised, the facts are far more complicated than presented by The Times.  Regrettably, trade unions are treated less favourably in respect of VAT than commercial businesses.  The immediate issue arose as a result of different policies followed by the two unions – the T&G and Amicus – which came together to form Unite in 2007.  HMRC determinations as to our VAT liability have changed over the period since.  We have reached agreement with HMRC as to our liability going forward, and are engaged in amicable discussions regarding outstanding payments which are likely to be concluded in the near future.”

So despite this being framed by The Times as “hypocrisy” on McCluskey’s part by the Times, it seems the dates in question were before he was General Secretary of Unite…

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