29. January 2018 · Comments Off on Declaration of Interests, Income and Tax 2016-17 · Categories: Announcements, Freedom of Information, Governance

Since 2010, I have been (like a couple of my self-employed writer/activist colleagues George Monbiot and Alastair McIntosh) making an annual declaration of interests, income and tax. Previous declarations can be found at the foot of the About page.

Commentators, campaigners and advocacy groups should be open about their interests and income (this story from earlier in 2014 is a good example of why I believe this to be so). I also believe that we have too much secrecy in the UK on matters of income and wealth and that if everyone’s income was openly declared, there would be much less inequality. This is not an especially radical idea. In Norway, details of every citizen’s income, assets and the tax they pay are available to the public and published on this website.

As a member of the Scottish Green Party, I also feel obliged to comply with the policy resolution passed at the 2011 Conference on Tax Evasion and Avoidance which encourages corporations and individuals to not use tax havens and to publish their accounts on a country by country basis.

In 2016 I was elected as an MSP. I will continue to publish information in this format on an annual basis but have also published a transparency page on my MSP website to draw attention to wider transparency issues in relation to my public role.

2016-17 INCOME
I am an MSP. My tax return for 2016-17 also includes earnings from writing, research, consultancy, public speaking, investigation, and subscriptions from the whoownsscotland website. My accounting year is the calendar year and so for my tax return of April 2017, it is 2016. During 2016, I earned income from self-employment principally from January to May and following the election, from work completed prior to May but not invoiced until afterwards.

For 2016-17, my income was as follows.

MSP SALARY (1)                             £ 48,782
BENEFITS & EXPENSES                £   1,979
PROFIT SELF-EMPLOYED (2)        £ 11,744
DIVIDENDS                                      £      404
TOTAL INCOME (3)                          £ 62,909

My total taxable income for the Year Ending 5 April 2017 was £ 62.909 on which I am due to pay tax of £12.906 and Class 4 NI contributions of £331.56 = total of £13,237.56 (see tax HMRC calculation here).

During 2016 all of my self-employed income was generated from within the UK. My main clients were NGOs, private companies, law firms, print & broadcast media and royalty payments on my books.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS 1 JANUARY 2018
I own no land or property.
I have 483 shares in Standard Life.
I am on the Board of Directors of the Caledonia Centre for Social Development (Company No. 192099 & Scottish Charity No. SC 028485).
I am a member of the Scottish Green Party and a number of charitable bodies.
I do not make use of any tax havens or artificial accounting structures to conceal my income

Also see my Parliamentary Register of Interests

NOTES
(1) MSP Salary is 5 May 2016 – 5 April 2017. The sum is derived from P60 after deduction of pension contributions.
(2) Gross Income less outlays & expenses – computers, travel, stationery, telephone, research fees (for example, search fees paid to Registers of Scotland) and other expenses of employment.

Back in March 2016, I published the preliminary results of research in to the offshore interests of the Buccleuch family. Due to my election as an MSP in May 2016, I have had no time to complete this work but thanks to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists publication of the Paradise Papers, we now have one more piece of the jigsaw. The jigsaw being who is the beneficial owner of the shares of Bucleuch estates Ltd.)

Kirkhope Holdings Ltd. (larger version of the above image here) appears to be one strong candidate for the entity that holds the wealth of the Buccleuch family. It was incorporated in the Cayman Islands on 10 July 1987 and shares are owned by Buccleuch Estates Ltd. and members of the Buccleuch family.

Over to whoever wishes to follow this up further.

 

03. May 2017 · Comments Off on Defamation 4 · Categories: Announcements, Defamation, Legal affairs

Thank you to all who have donated to my crowdfunder. I have just worked out how to download donor details and will be emailing you all directly within the next few days.

It is now evidence that these proceedings are highly likely to proceed to a proof before the Court of Session lasting around 8 days. Accordingly, the costs are now estimated in the region of £150,000. If I win, I can anticipate recouping around 60% of this (£90,000). If I lose (even on a very minor defamation), I will be due to pay all of these costs plus very possibly those of the pursuer. In that latter event I will certainly be bankrupt.

I am setting a stretch target of £50,000 for the remainder of this crowdfunder (until min-June) and will then probably launch another one later in 2017. My defences have to be lodged by Friday 5 May. I will publish further updates as maters proceed.

The crowdfunder together with an explanation of what the funds are to be sued for can be found at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/awdefamation