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IS BRIAN ALDRIDGE ON THE FIDDLE?
Posted 12 December 2002
Call for inquiry into Borchester man's shooting business
This week's listeners to the BBC Radio 4 long running soap 'The Archers', heard an episode about a pheasant shoot organised by the wealthy farmer and landowner character, Brian Aldridge. Brian has already shown himself to be dishonest - he is deceiving his wife by conducting an affair with Siobhan. Is he a tax fraudster too?
National campaign group, Animal Aid, which in November published a report exposing how the pheasant rearing and shooting industry is depriving the public purse of millions of pounds in unpaid taxes, is calling for a full independent inquiry into Aldridge's financial affairs. Animal Aid will be approaching leading QCs, including Cherie Booth and Michael Mansfield, to see if they are prepared to take on the case.
Pheasant shooting is not classed, for tax purposes, as an agricultural activity and operators are therefore liable to pay and charge VAT. But because most shooting takes place on agricultural land - as in the case of Aldridge's business - it is open to shoot operators to avoid paying the tax. Through a related scam, pheasant producers are also failing to pay business rates. Animal Aid reported more than 40 such non-payers to the relevant authorities earlier this year.
Brian's well-heeled punters from the Borchester Land Company are typical shooting industry customers. For a sum often exceeding well over £1000 per day per gun, they expect to kill up to 500 pheasants and down an up-market lunch. Animal Aid says it's time such people paid their way in the world.
Notes to Editors
- Full details on tax and the shooting industry in Animal Aid's Feathering Their Nests report.
- More information from Andrew Tyler at Animal Aid on 01732 364546.
- Animal Aid has an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.