Irvine Goes on the Warpath Following Channel 4 Documentary

The Scots media and political adviser to Cayman Finance, the representative body of the financial services industry in the Cayman Islands, has condemned a Channel 4 documentary about it and its role as a supposed tax haven.

Jack Irvine – a former editor of The Scottish Sun – has described, in a media release, the Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary, ‘How the Rich Beat the Taxman’, as “cliché-ridden journalism, recycling of hoary old myths”.

His remarks about the Tax Justice Network – which was critical of the Cayman Islands in the programme, broadcast earlier this week – have been reproduced on the organisation’s website.

He says of the programme: “When a director is reduced to showing long, lingering shots of his reporter doodling at his keyboard, you know immediately they don’t have many moving pictures to show the viewer. This is doubly embarrassing as the reporter in question is Antony Barnett, an investigative reporter with a solid track record in print journalism – that’s the medium where words matter more than pictures.”

He continues: “In reality, the Cayman Islands is an OECD white listed jurisdiction. Over the past two decades the Cayman Islands has as a matter of fact complied with every international initiative on transparency and is a stable, transparent, tax neutral jurisdiction with a secure, British legal system that is used by global financial institutions to access international capital markets.

“Anthony Travers, OBE, Chairman of Cayman Finance has tirelessly fought against the sloppy journalism that has led to this common misconception. Cayman Finance has worked to dispel the common misconceptions of the Cayman Islands as portrayed in the British press. This has ranged from reports of bail outs from the UK government to current budgetary problems and supposed decline of hedge fund investment in Cayman.”

“Travers notes: ‘The British press appear to take their intelligence on the Cayman Islands from pot-boiler novels and Hollywood films. Cayman attracts hedge funds because it has relevant and attractive laws, a high standard of professional service, an effective Court system with ultimate appeal to the Privy Council and full IOSCO transparency. Having sensible judges a UK common law basis to your legal system and regulator to regulator disclosure matters. Cayman has been and remains highly attractive as a tax transparent but tax neutral jurisdiction in which relevant structuring can be undertaken to pool funds invested from the international capital markets.’

“We are also led to believe that it is these offshore jurisdictions that are directly responsible for poverty in the Third World. This is yet another global myth endlessly promoted by high tax lefties that adds fuel to the fire and is, inexplicably swallowed by lazy journalists.

“Even a journalist with half a brain would understand that the major problem facing Third World aid is the obscene amounts pillaged by unscrupulous leaders. Until that is sorted – don’t hold your breath – the problems surrounding aid cannot be properly addressed. Tax neutral regimes cannot be used as a band aid to disguise that sad truth.

“In another surreal part of the programme Barnett walks around Jersey with a picture of Sir Phillip Green asking if anyone has 'seen this man' to prove a point about offshore banking. Woodward and Bernstein this ain’t.

“I walk past the Bank of England every morning and I have yet to catch a glimpse of Sir Mervyn King hanging about on the pavement or reading his FT in the Royal Exchange. I am willing to bet that if I stopped passers by and showed them an A4 picture of Sir Mervyn, a considerable number wouldn’t recognise him.

“What an opportunity an hour of prime time television could have afforded to an investigative reporter who had the tenacity to examine the complex issues of onshore and offshore taxation instead of resorting to the same, tired old arguments fuelled by class prejudice and ignorance.”