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Don't strip tax cheat Gary Barlow of gong, says David Cameron

By James Tapsfield

David Cameron has dismissed calls for Gary Barlow to hand back his OBE after the Take That star was ordered to pay millions of pounds in tax dodged through an avoidance scheme.

The Prime Minister said it was not necessary to remove Barlow's honour because he had "done a huge amount for the country" and "raised money for charity".

The staunch defence came despite Mr Cameron having previously condemned comedian Jimmy Carr for investing in a similar tax scheme.

Barlow – who lives in the PM's Witney constituency and supported the Tories at the last election –and two other members of Take That have refused to comment on reports over the weekend 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, along with Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild, apparently 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.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, Mr Cameron said: "Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country, he has raised money for charity, he has done very well for Children in Need, so I'm not sure... the OBE is in respect of that work and what he has done."

It followed comments by Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, who told The Times newspaper: "People who have seriously abused the tax system should be stripped of their honours."

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