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In a widely reported statement today, David Cameron has denied having any shares, offshore trusts or overseas funds, and most intriguingly he stated:
“I have a house which we used to live in, which we now rent out whilst we are living in Downing Street. And that is all I have.”
But is his claim to own just a single property true?
Back in 2009, in an article for Labour List, Will Straw quoted a Times interview with David Cameron, who when asked how many homes he owns, replied:
“I own a house in North Kensington which you’ve been to and my house in the constituency in Oxfordshire and that is, as far as I know, all I have.”
Take note of his turn of phrase. “[…] and that is, as far as I know, all I have”. Not exactly a definitive or trustworthy end to a statement.
So, from just this statement we can definitively ascertain that Cameron lied in his statement. He does not own just one property, he owns two. But, does he actually own more?
During the interview, he was also asked about a property in the South West :
“No, that is, Samantha used to have a timeshare in South Devon but she doesn’t any more.”
The interviewer then asks:
“And there isn’t a fourth?”
To which Cameron responds:
“I don’t think so – not that I can think of.” […] “You might be… Samantha owns a field in Sc*nthorpe but she doesn’t own a house…”
So if the future Prime Minister didn’t even know how much property he owned back in 2009, can he, or we, be sure that he only owns one property now?
The simple answer is no. He obviously owns at least two.
If we assume the house Cameron claimed to own today is Spelsburydown House, a substantial period Cotswold stone house in Dean, Chipping Norton, which he purchased courtesy of a £350,000 taxpayer funded mortgage, then what of the property mentioned in reports from January of this year?
The Daily Mail report that since moving into 10 Downing Street in May 2010, Cameron has been letting out his home in the luxury London district of Notting Hill, and in doing so has made in excess of £500,000 from rental payments.
So what is the truth? Are we supposed to believe the claims of a man who today argued that he ‘does not gain from offshore funds’ – despite having received a public school education and a £300,000 bequest from his father who used Mossack Fonseca’s services to run an offshore fund which paid not a penny in UK tax? Is his education, and subsequent status not a ‘benefit’ of this money?
Today’s claims from Cameron are at least disingenuous. His failure to be open and honest just adds to the secrecy surrounding the Panama Papers scandal.
He needs to start telling the truth, or others will have to do it for him.