Barlow offers tax row 'apology'
Pop star Gary Barlow has finally broken his silence to "apologise" on Twitter following damaging tax-dodging allegations.
The multi-millionaire former Take That singer was accused earlier this year of being involved in an "aggressive" tax avoidance scheme.
Barlow, a prolific tweeter, refused to comment after coming under a deluge of criticism amid demands he be stripped of his OBE when the story broke in May.
But last night Barlow, a Tory supporter who lives in the constituency of Prime Minister David Cameron, spoke for the first time, briefly, about his tax affairs with two tweets from his Twitter account.
He tweeted: "I want to apologise to anyone who was offended by the tax stories earlier this year."
A second tweet said: "With a new team of accountants we are working to settle things with all parties involved ASAP."
Minutes later he tweeted the news to his 3.5 million twitter followers that he had been working on a new Take That album and a Broadway musical.
Barlow did not say exactly what he was apologising for or elaborate further on his tax arrangements.
He had earlier tweeted that he had just come back from "7 productive weeks in the US" and had taken a break from twitter after his account was hacked and "some very upsetting and disturbing text was written."
But his apology for the "tax stories" was immediately met with ridicule and abuse by many fellow tweeters.
@Quoink tweeted back: "Lol at Gary Barlow: 'Sorry about the tax avoidance' 'New album being recorded' PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY."
Craig O'Connor, @sawdoc1878, tweeted: "Be shunning the limelight whilst the Tax Sham scenario dies down? Slide back in after your advisors have given the green light?"
And Nick Buckel @nickychops, tweeted: "Nice of Gary Barlow to apologise for any offence caused by the tax stories. Not the actual avoidance of tax, just the reporting of it."
David Cameron rejected calls for Barlow to hand back his OBE after the star was ordered to pay millions of pounds in tax dodged through an avoidance scheme in May.
The Prime Minister said it was not "necessary" to remove Barlow's honour because he had "raised money for charity".
The staunch defence came despite Mr Cameron having previously condemned comedian Jimmy Carr for investing in a similar tax scheme.
But Labour's Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee - said Barlow should hand back his OBE and the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: "People who don't pay the taxes that they should undermine the economy, damage our public services and place an extra, unfair burden on hard-working families and companies who play by the rules."
Barlow and two other members of Take That have refused to comment on reports that they are in line for tax bills totalling tens of millions of pounds after a court ruled a partnership in which they invested was a tax avoidance scheme.
The singer, with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild, reportedly invested £66 million into two partnerships styled as music industry investment schemes.
Judge Colin Bishopp ruled that 51 partnerships, set up by Icebreaker Management, were to secure tax relief for members and HM Revenue and Customs is now expected to demand repayment.
It was alleged in 2012 that Barlow, Donald, Owen and Wild invested at least £26 million in a scheme run by Icebreaker Management.
At the time Take That's lawyers insisted the bandmates believed the investments were legitimate enterprises and that all four named paid "significant tax".
Barlow, 43, who has spent more than 20 years in the public eye, was awarded his OBE by the Queen in November 2012.
He masterminded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert, which was staged at Buckingham Palace during a special bank holiday weekend in June 2012.
A Sky News video showed the PM telling two Take That fans: "He lives in my constituency in West Oxfordshire... He is such a nice man."