Andy Townsend among sports stars suing over tax advice

UK revenue ruled that investment in British film productions was tax avoidance

Former Irish international Andy Townsend, who is suing over investment advice that was later ruled to be tax avoidance. Photograph: Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former Irish international Andy Townsend, who is suing over investment advice that was later ruled to be tax avoidance. Photograph: Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

 

Former Irish soccer international and television pundit Andy Townsend is among a group of former players who are suing listed wealth manager St James’s Place, over advice to invest in British films through what were later deemed tax-avoidance vehicles by UK authorities.

The case is being brought by 14 investors. Seven say they were told to invest in British films between 2005 and 2006 without being made aware of the risks by a partner at St James’s, a lawyer for the defendants said at a London court. The other seven claimants in the lawsuit are suing over pension-related investments made in small businesses.

The lawsuit is the latest fallout from the decade-old British film partnerships tax scandal. Investment in the UK film industry ballooned after then-chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown boosted tax credits for those investing in movies in his 1997 budget. The change allowed investors to cut their personal tax bills, but UK authorities tightened the rules after questions over the legitimacy of some of the productions.

Investment bankers, soccer players and British pop stars were pursued by tax authorities, with some later suing their wealth managers for advising them to put money into the schemes.

A spokesman for St James’s Place said the partner who pointed the investors toward the plan did not have its authorisation to do so, and that St James’s didn’t approve of the proposal. The spokesman also said the partner had retired by the time many of the investments were made, and that others were placed through a self-invested personal pension by a third party.

According to a court filing, the group’s claim is worth £15 million (€17.5 million). St James’s says that the statute of limitations on the claims has expired because the investments were made more than 10 years ago.

Among the other claimants in Thursday’s case are Linvoy Primus, who played for Portsmouth, former Millwall player David Livermore, and Colin Cooper, who appeared twice for England’s national team in the 1990s.– Bloomberg