BBC's Zarin Patel sues Daily Star for libel damages over tax arrangements story

Zarin Patel Zarin Patel says the stories imply she 'devised or connived' to force BBC employees to dodge tax

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The BBC's chief financial officer Zarin Patel will take on Express Newspapers at the High Court over two Daily Star stories about the tax arrangements of some BBC presenters.

Using BBC lawyers, Patel is suing for libel over editorial about the Corporation's payment of some of its long-term presenters through personal service companies.

She alleges that her reputation has been injured by the articles published on 24 July. They imply, she claims, that she 'devised or connived in' a BBC plan to force employees to dodge tax by creating personal service companies so as to allow the BBC to save millions of pounds. She is seeking libel damages, legal costs and a permanent injunction to prevent the claims being made again.

The Daily Mail had previously published a similar story, which it went on to remove from its website. It also printed an apology to Patel.

She said in an email to staff at the time that: 'Contrary to these reports, we have not told thousands of workers to go 'off the books' in order to cut our tax bill, neither are we 'avoiding national insurance' contributions by paying individuals via service companies.'

She added: 'The arrangements are designed to ensure the correct amount is payable, while ensuring that we can offer the flexibility needed in the broadcasting industry, where individuals may work with several different organisations during the year,' she says.

The finance chief is currently reviewing the BBC's use of personal service contracts - which mean that tax is not taken at source. She promised to the review when she was called as a witness by the Public Accounts Committee in July.

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