Graham Norton likens tax-dodging celebrities such as Jimmy Carr to drunk-drivers


Graham Norton has likened tax-dodgers to drink-drivers.

The Mirror reports that the chat show host, 57, was asked in a recent US radio interview about fellow-comedian Jimmy Carr, who was caught up in a tax scandal several years ago – to which Graham expressed the need for harsher punishments.

‘There was a time when drunk-driving was sort of socially acceptable. People left dinner parties drunk [and would say] “Oh, I’m driving, I’ll be fine”. Now if somebody did that, I think people would be like, “Please don’t… that is a bad idea, you might kill someone”.

Crime and punishment: Graham Norton has likened tax-dodgers to drink-drivers

‘Hopefully we will get to a stage where tax avoidance is the same as that.’ 

Graham added: ‘If everyone pays their tax, there are nice roads, neighbourhoods are safer, children are well educated.’

8 Out Of 10 Cats host Jimmy bought a double-fronted £8.5million eight-bedroom home with cash and did not need a mortgage 10 years ago, with it emerging that he was one of thousands using a legal off-shore scheme to pay as little as one per cent income tax.

He said in 2012 that his accountant advised him the scheme was legal, but still made a grovelling apology – but pointedly did not offer to pay back millions of pounds he is believed to have saved through the off-shore scheme.

He issued a statement on Twitter hours after the then-Prime Minister David Cameron branded his behaviour ‘morally wrong’.

Jimmy was believed to have been the largest beneficiary of the K2 accountancy arrangement, said to shelter £168million a year from the taxman.

Dodge! Graham was asked about fellow-comedian Jimmy Carr, who was caught up in a tax scandal several years ago

Dodge! Graham was asked about fellow-comedian Jimmy Carr, who was caught up in a tax scandal several years ago

He pulled out of the scheme and said: ‘Although I’ve been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC, I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone.’

Graham was also asked by The Times this weekend about his love life – claiming he is single, has never come close to marriage, but has met people he thought he could spend the rest of his life with.

‘They just didn’t reciprocate! It seems very much on the back burner at the moment. This doesn’t seem like a great time for meeting new people!’

Graham referred to the current pandemic and stated that going on ‘walking dates’ sounded ‘awful’.

Slammed: The chat show host, 57, called for harsher punishments in a recent US radio interview

Slammed: The chat show host, 57, called for harsher punishments in a recent US radio interview

‘I’d come off the apps and stuff like that,’ he says about pre-pandemic life. ‘So, again, my attitude towards it seems to have changed. ‘I mean, back when I did them, they are what they are. I think being me on them is kind of weird. Because you will end up matching with odd people. Or certainly I seemed to, more than my friends. 

‘There’s a weird thing that happens in your life that the older you get the less right you have to be picky, but the pickier you become. And your dating pool becomes smaller and smaller — but that’s because you want it to be. 

The broadcaster recently lashed out at the annual publishing of BBC stars’ high salaries, branding the practice both ‘pointless’ and ‘rubbish’.

Scandal: 8 Out Of 10 Cats host Jimmy bought a double-fronted £8.5million eight-bedroom home with cash and did not need a mortgage 10 years ago, with it emerging that he was one of thousands using a legal off-shore scheme to pay as little as one per cent income tax

Scandal: 8 Out Of 10 Cats host Jimmy bought a double-fronted £8.5million eight-bedroom home with cash and did not need a mortgage 10 years ago, with it emerging that he was one of thousands using a legal off-shore scheme to pay as little as one per cent income tax

The broadcaster, who recently quit BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to head to Virgin Radio, has admitted that he looks forward to no longer having his earnings published for public consumption – a factor that contributed in his decision to leave.

In an interview with The Sun, Graham – who most recently placed third after Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball with a £729,999 pay packet – criticised the fact that the list doesn’t comprehensively cover the earnings of employees. 

He told the publication: ‘The high earners list, which I didn’t like being on, hey, now I’m not. So to that extent it made me go, but that was a bonus of leaving, it wasn’t the biggest driving force.

‘The list is rubbish. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t tell you what people are earning because of how people are paid, which is why so many radio people are on that list.

‘It is pointless, but if they weren’t publishing it, there wouldn’t be that many women on it. When they first published it, they were properly embarrassed there were so few women on it. I think that list will become more diverse over the next few years.’

Back in September, the BBC came under fire after it published accounts showing that staff pay had soared 3.5 per cent to £1.5billion – while the Corporation pushes ahead with its plans to strip a million over-75s of their free TV licences. 

Earnings: The broadcaster, who recently quit BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to head to Virgin Radio, has admitted that he looks forward to no longer having his earnings published

Earnings: The broadcaster, who recently quit BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to head to Virgin Radio, has admitted that he looks forward to no longer having his earnings published

Published accounts showed that Zoe Ball is now the BBC’s highest earner after pocketing a £1million pay rise – knocking Gary Lineker off the top spot.

The Match of the Day star, 60, is understood to have signed a new five-year contract – and a nearly 25 per cent pay cut from £1.75million down to £1.35million. 

Radio 2 presenter Ball, 50, is now earning £1.36million despite losing nearly a million listeners after the corporation pledged to tackle the gender pay gap.

They have been trying to level up the pay of male and female stars to repair damage to the corporation’s reputation and reduce discord among staff.

Equality issues led to the BBC handing out a settlement to former China editor Carrie Gracie in 2018 and then last year losing an equal pay tribunal case to Samira Ahmed.

Critics blasted its decision to reward its staff with a total 3.5 per cent salary increase even after it announced plans to slim down its operations following the pandemic.

In July, the BBC announced a huge shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England which will lead to 450 job cuts.

Elsewhere in his interview with The Sun, Graham revealed that Chris Evans, 54, influenced his decision to make the leap to Virgin after he playfully suggested that the Irishman move networks, leading to serious meetings and offers.  

Leaving gifts: On his final day at Radio 2 last month, Graham had shared a glimpse of the gifts he received on his Instagram, which included a cake with his face on and a Lego model

Leaving gifts: On his final day at Radio 2 last month, Graham had shared a glimpse of the gifts he received on his Instagram, which included a cake with his face on and a Lego model

During his final Saturday morning slot on Radio 2 last month, Graham bid a fond farewell to his listeners after a decade presenting on the station. 

He said: ‘It’s just a gig, it is just a job, but it has also been a privilege to be part of your mornings.

‘I’m getting emotional now. Someone told me I’d get emotional and I said “no I won’t, I really won’t… I’ll just think of the six flights of stairs I climb up, tears gone now”.’

He went on to add: ‘It has been a privilege to be part of your Saturday mornings because it’s lovely just sharing your lives and hearing your messages, and that’s been the greatest joy of being on Radio 2, it really has.’

New guard: Last month, Graham announced he would be joining Virgin Radio UK for a new flagship show after revealing his decision to depart BBC Radio 2

New guard: Last month, Graham announced he would be joining Virgin Radio UK for a new flagship show after revealing his decision to depart BBC Radio 2

After playing his favourite song of Reach by S Club 7, he signed off by saying: ‘Biggest thanks go to you for tuning in and taking part in the show. I’ll miss you. Until the next time, stay safe and well.’  

Graham is now set to join Virgin Radio UK this weekend, and will present a new show on Saturdays and Sundays with them.

In November, Graham shared a statement about his departure and said he was ‘surprised’ to be joining Virgin Radio as he was ‘content’ where he was, but didn’t want to miss out on hosting weekend shows.

Graham said: ‘I am excited and a little surprised to be joining Virgin Radio UK in 2021. I was very content where I was but the opportunity to host shows across the weekend seemed too good to miss out on. 

Golden opportunity: In a statement, Graham said he was 'surprised' to be joining the network as he was 'content' where he was, but didn't want to miss out on hosting weekend shows

Golden opportunity: In a statement, Graham said he was ‘surprised’ to be joining the network as he was ‘content’ where he was, but didn’t want to miss out on hosting weekend shows

‘Plus the energy and enthusiasm at Virgin Radio are infectious and I can’t wait to get started! Did I mention the studios are very close to my house?’ 

Virgin Radio UK content director Mike Cass added: ‘Graham Norton is one of very few truly unique talents in broadcasting. I’m delighted to be welcoming him to the Virgin Radio family in the new year. 

‘He’ll be bringing double the wit, double the banter and double the love across Saturday and Sunday.’ 

It was announced in November that Strictly Coming Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman will be taking over his BBC Radio 2 slot.

Influencer: He has since credited Chris Evans with influencing his move to Virgin Radio UK

Influencer: He has since credited Chris Evans with influencing his move to Virgin Radio UK

The star, 48, confirmed on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show that she would be taking over the position from February, which will see her host it between 10am and 1pm.

Taking to Instagram to gush about the news, Claudia said she was ‘gobsmacked’ to have got the role and felt she had big shoes to fill.

Claudia said in a statement: ‘I’m not often speechless but the chance to be with the wonderful Radio 2 listeners every Saturday has left me, quite frankly, gobsmacked.

‘I hope my voice comes back in time for the first show as I can no longer simply rely on a fake tan and a fringe. There’s nobody I’d rather be with at the weekend, it’s a privilege and an honour.’

Sharing another post detailing how she felt about the news, Claudia said she was ‘thrilled’ and ‘terrified’, as she joked ‘enormous shoes to fill. Send socks.’ 

Exciting: Claudia Winkleman is set to replace Graham Norton as host of BBC Radio 2's Saturday morning show and said she was 'gobsmacked' about getting role

Exciting: Claudia Winkleman is set to replace Graham Norton as host of BBC Radio 2’s Saturday morning show and said she was ‘gobsmacked’ about getting role

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