Dolce & Gabbana sentenced to prison for tax evasion, the G8 summit overtaken by protesters in papier-mâché heads and the Royal baby all made the headlines this week. Steven Perryman picks his top five news stories
1. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary outed as a former accountant
Getting ready for your summer holiday? Lucky you. Flying Ryanair? Your luck just ran out.
A cheap getaway is never quite the same unless you have to suffer the indignity of emptying your case in the check-in hall, all because it is one ounce over the Irish airlines’ dainty baggage allowance. Everyone – even the most hardened of travellers – has a tale of woe to tell, it seems.
What’s more concerning is we have an accountant to blame for this ritual pain and humiliation. In a feature dissecting the history of the no-frills airline this week, the BBC revealed that chief executive, Michael O’Leary, is in fact an accountant by trade, and was drafted in by the airline’s founder, Tony Ryan, to try to save some cash in 1988.
What nearly balked as much was the quote from Howard Millar, the company’s chief financial officer: ‘We cannot offer low fares without having a really low-cost base,’ he sniffed. ‘So if that means we have to get up in the morning and have a fight with everybody, we will.’
2. Dolce & Gabbana sentenced to prison for tax evasion
As the tax furore of ‘The World’s Best Footballer’ © Lionel Messi rumbles on in Spain, Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana saw their own tax case take a turn for the worse this week.
The design duo have been sentenced to a 20-month jail term for tax evasion for failing to pay €40m. This was a story that we first sniffed out on AAT Comment in April when we revealed Stefano Gabbana had decided to tweet his thoughts (as all stupid celebrities do these days) after his initial arrest.
The tweet? ‘In the end who cares, we will all finish up six feet under.’ Ryanair would just love him in their call centre, wouldn’t they?
3. HMRC tax evasion hotline gets 30 calls a day
Accountancy Age do like an HMRC phone line story, don’t they? This week was no different with the title reporting that the Government department received around 72,000 calls to its tax evasion hotline last year.
It’s a figure that will puzzle many, especially those that have had to fight their way through its labyrinth-like automated system. Reports of clean-shaven men having beards by the time they get through to an actual human being have yet to be disproved.
Unwanted beards could be a thing of the past, however, thanks to Nigel Clarke, a clean-shaven 53-year-old. Clarke has catalogued the phone menus of hundreds of companies and set up a website – Please Press 1 – that allows you to beat the automated systems by clicking through to your desired location quickly and efficiently. Now that is genius.
4. Big heads gather in Ireland for G8 summit
Our video of the week goes to G8 campaign group Enough Food If whose protest against tax dodging by bringing the big heads – literally – up the lough to Enniskillen castle in Viking boats was inspired. We’re not sure what we liked more: the grubby stubble of David Cameron’s head (been on the phone to HMRC, perhaps?) or the brash, branded lifejackets.
Behind closed doors the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to tackle global tax evasion was in danger of meeting a watery grave, after he failed to persuade his G8 colleagues to make any new binding commitments.
5. Middleton’s muscle in on Royal baby bounty
Last year we had the Olympics. This year the UK economy is pinning its hopes on, er, a royal baby.
This week The Daily Telegraph reported that the nation is expected to spend £243m on the royal baby (not literally, we hope). One couple with eyes on that pot include the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, who have reportedly added a range of baby goods to their party goods business.
It’s not like sister Pippa is using the baby shower as an opportunity to promote her party planning prowess either, is it? Hang on…
Steven Perryman is AAT’s Editorial Manager
Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.