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Archive for December 7th, 2009

Ashcroft’s taxes nothing to do with me, says Cameron

Independent: David Cameron says it “is not a matter for me” whether Michael Ashcroft, the Conservative Party’s billionaire deputy chairman, pays any tax in the UK.

The Tory leader insisted that Lord Ashcroft’s tax affairs are a private matter. But a different rule is now applied by Mr Cameron to Conservative MPs and parliamentary candidates. Anyone who wants a Tory seat in the House of Commons has to be a UK taxpayer, Mr Cameron said.

Lord Ashcroft, who has donated an estimated £5m to the Conservatives and is in charge of their strategy for winning marginal seats, was granted his peerage in 2000, after being nominated by William Hague, when he was the Tory leader.

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Independent: The big squeeze

The big squeeze

Independent: Next year, Britain’s middle classes and the rich will face the biggest squeeze on their living standards in decades, shows research produced by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers for The Independent.

In the build-up to what promises to be an exceptionally tough pre-Budget report this Wednesday, PwC says the typical British family (“Middle England”) already faces a decline of 2.4 per cent, or £300 a year, in its discretionary spending power, after tax, mortgages, food and other essentials.

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MoD ‘did not want to breach privacy of detainee’

Independent: The Government misled MPs over Britain’s role in the rendition of two men arrested by the UK and then imprisoned by the Americans for five years in Afghanistan, it is claimed today.

Ministers are also accused of conspiring in the men’s unlawful imprisonment by refusing to disclose their identities and providing false information about the allegations against them.

The Ministry of Defence wrote to the law charity Reprieve, saying that the two terror suspects captured by British forces in Iraq in 2004 could not be identified because it would be a breach of their rights under the Data Protection Act.

But a six-month investigation by Reprieve has identified one of the men, a Pakistani, and found evidence of his unlawful detention and possible torture.

Reprieve also alleges that the British government has taken no steps over the past five years to ensure that they receive legal assistance.

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Dubai World’s founding document shows UK banks were wrong to think emirate would guarantee loans

Times: British banks, which could lose billions of dollars after lending money to Dubai World, were under the false impression that the debt would be guaranteed by the Dubai Government when they made the loans.

The Times has obtained a copy of the law that created Dubai World and it clearly states that the Gulf emirate will not back the state-owned company’s debts.

However, banks including Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC are thought to have invested in the company under the impression that an implicit state guarantee existed.

Banking insiders have claimed that in meetings between Dubai World and investors, executives gave the impression that this guarantee existed. Dubai World declined to comment yesterday.

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Unmarried couples need new legal rights, says reform judge

Times: Two million unmarried couples need new legal rights to protect them from injustice if they separate, the new senior judge in charge of law reform has said.

In many cases long-term partners cannot be adequately protected by existing laws, according to Lord Justice Munby, chairman of the Law Commission. It was time that the law was brought up to date with changes in society. “It is a fact that the number of people marrying today is less than it has been for over 100 years,” he said.

The comments by Lord Justice Munby, who was giving his first interview since taking up the post, will boost the case for a reform of the law pending a decision expected next year from the Government.

The judge also indicated that there should be a review of the law on how a married couples’ finances are split on divorce. The Law Commission would soon be consulting on its next programme of work, he said, and the Court of Appeal had said that this area of law should be looked at.

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