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Why Lord Rothermere is parking mad
Offshore Ownership, Issue 1382
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The Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere has a very pricey parking space
DAILY MAIL proprietor Lord Rothermere, also known as Jonathan Harmsworth, appears to go to extraordinary lengths to keep his millions out of the taxman’s clutches. The Eye has discovered that he has even bought a parking space near his Kensington office through an offshore company.

Land Registry data shows that in February 2009 a company called Harmsworth Holdings Ltd bought a 125-year lease on space number 76 at the exclusive underground private car park under York House, just across Kensington High Street from the Mail’s Derry Street offices. The company is registered in St Lucia, 300 miles off the South American coast.

Why Rothermere would need this bizarre arrangement is not clear – he would not comment on the matter to the Eye – but buying assets through offshore companies controlled by family trusts carries big tax advantages for “non-domiciled” taxpayers like Milord Rothermere (see Eyes passim).

The company owning the parking space is considered an overseas asset and remains outside the scope of a “non-dom’s” future inheritance tax bill. And if the parking space was bought out of the ample income received by the Bermudian company and offshore trusts through which Rothermere controls Daily Mail and General Trust plc, there would be no “remittance” to the UK to generate an income tax bill.

The same St Lucian company also owns land and one further, unidentified property in the Kensington area. Yet another Rothermere company, Harmsworth Trust Co (PTC) Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands, owns 10 English properties, most of them near the Rothermeres’ neo-Palladian pile in 200-acre Ferne Park in Wiltshire.

(Most non-doms, incidentally, would lose the inheritance tax break once they lived 17 out of 20 years in the UK. But Rothermere can thank his father for choosing France for his tax exile and thus bequeathing it as his country of domicile, since a longstanding agreement between the UK and France happily overrides this rule.)

Rothermere isn’t alone in using an offshore company to own 12 square metres of tarmac and a precise 1.9 metres of airspace under York House. Fifteen further spaces – each said to be “large enough to accommodate a Rolls Royce” - have been bought in the same way: five through companies incorporated in the BVI, three in the Isle of Man, two in Liberia, one each in Jersey and Guernsey and a couple of unknown origin.

Rothermere’s purchase was for an unquantified amount, although other spaces bought around the same time went for £100,000, the top price being £149,500. Investors in what is described as “London’s first boutique car park” seem well-pleased. “What a delight,” says one. “Having suffered for many years with the aggravation of trying to find a parking space at night, let alone the frustrated nanny on the school run [sic]. This car park has solved all my problems.”

* * * * *

Khan you believe it…

OVER in the Cotswolds meanwhile another child of one of Britain’s legendary “non-doms” luxuriates in the spoils of offshore wealth. In 2010 the media reported that Jemima Khan, associate editor of the New Statesman, socialite and daughter of the late tycoon Sir Jimmy Goldsmith, acquired Kiddington Hall, a £15m stately home in the north Oxfordshire. In fact she didn’t acquire it; a Cayman Islands company called Kidslane Ltd did.

Khan tells the Eye she hasn’t engineered any tax advantages from the arrangement, full stamp duty was paid on the purchase and she does not personally claim the non-domiciled tax status she would be entitled to. The Cayman Islands company is owned, Khan’s accountant explains, “by a trust established by [her] father for the benefit of future generations of his family”, a classic inheritance tax-avoiding ruse for a wealthy non-dom. The terms of the trust “prevent capital being distributed…” However, “as a beneficiary of the trust [she is] able to live at Kiddington Hall”.

The Eye understands that Khan’s recent former boyfriend Russell Brand also lived for a time at Kiddington Hall. Indeed, he wrote a chunk of his anti-capitalist Revolution diatribe at the Cayman Islands-owned stately home funded by the offshore wealth of one of the 20th century’s most ruthless capitalists. Sir Jams must be chuckling somewhere…

More top stories in the latest issue:

How offshore “lifestyle surveys” try to duck the rules on nuisance phone calls.

Residents of the Western Isles face long postal delays as anything Royal Mail’s scanners can’t identify is sent to Belfast for opening.

No sign of a happy Christmas for the sub-postmasters caught up in the Horizon computer system scandal.

High-earning head teacher branches out into running a singles club.

The Justice department’s use of “experimental” statistics to show legal aid cuts are having little or no impact would be laughable, if they did hide so much personal misery and waste of public money.

The increasingly acrimonious battle over the volunteer village looks set for the courts.

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Next issue on sale: 2nd January 2015.

Private Eye Issue 1381