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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
John Stevens

Tories in crisis as party's chief executive and treasurer dragged into tax dodging row

Rishi Sunak faces a fresh crisis as two Tory bosses are dragged into a tax dodging row.

The Mirror can reveal Graham Edwards, who has been brought in by the PM to run the party’s finances, was found to have used a tax avoidance scheme.

And Tory chief executive Stephen Massey is still working on the side for a firm that encouraged the rich to slash their tax bills by ploughing cash into a controversial movie investment project.

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds last night said: “From the party chair sacked over his tax affairs to the party treasurer who took part in a tax avoidance scheme, Rishi Sunak is drowning in a swamp of sleaze.

“Rishi Sunak promised professionalism, integrity and accountability at every level, but instead we’ve got a torrent of questions over those he put at the top of the Conservative Party."

Property tycoon Mr Edwards, who has donated £940,000 to the Conservatives since 2018, was named as the party’s treasurer last month.

Following a dispute with HMRC, he was found to have wrongly tried to reduce the tax due on £5million he received in bonuses.

According to court documents, a trust set up as part of a complex tax scheme was used to buy a £1.5million country mansion for him.

The property in Buckinghamshire has its own boathouse on the banks of the Thames as well as a heated swimming pool and tennis court.

A tax tribunal ruled that the scheme was tax avoidance in 2007.

He challenged the decision in both the High Court and Court of Appeal, but his appeals were dismissed.

Mr Massey started as the Conservative Party’s chief executive in November, but he remains chairman of firm Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, where he has worked for the past decade.

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds says Rishi Sunak is "drowning in a swamp of sleaze" (PA)

Rich clients launched legal action against the company in 2019 after it advised them to put their money into a film investment scheme that was targeted by the taxman.

They complained that an HMRC crackdown had left them with huge bills.

On its website, Canaccord Genuity boasts that it helps its wealth customers invest "in the most tax-efficient manner".

Mr Massey has donated £343,000 to the Tories including £25,000 to Mr Sunak’s leadership campaign.

He has temporarily been handed the duties of the Conservative Party chairman after Nadhim Zahawi was sacked for not telling the truth over an HMRC investigation he faced for not paying enough tax.

A spokesman for Mr Massey last night said he had “no involvement in the advice related to this case, which arose in a company acquired by Canaccord before he was employed by the firm”.

A spokesman for Mr Edwards said: “Two decades ago Mr Edwards received a bonus and paid full tax and National Insurance on it, on the day he received it.

“The scheme mentioned was a KPMG led tax reclaim scheme that HMRC disallowed. Mr. Edwards paid all taxes properly and never received any penalty from HMRC.

“Mr Edwards bought the property mentioned with fully taxed income.”

The Conservative Party declined to comment.

Mr Sunak yesterday insisted he had acted "pretty decisively" as he faced criticism for dithering for a fortnight before giving Mr Zahawi the boot.

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