According to the Paradise Papers documents, three stars of the hit British sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys have come under fire for diverting more than £2 million into an off-shore tax avoidance scheme.
Patrick Houlihan and Martin and Fiona Delany transferred their fees into companies in Mauritius and sent the money back to their UK accounts in the form of loans.
Similar tax avoidance schemes have been uncovered in recent years, with many big names being caught out for trying to avoid tax.
Roy Lyness, the man who put the stars in touch with the advisors who were behind the set-up, was also the accountant behind the similar tax-avoidance scheme used by comedian Jimmy Carr in 2012. At the time, Carr commented on his behaviour, stating it was a ‘terrible error of judgement’.
The leaked documents that were held by offshore law firm Appleby show how the three Mrs Brown’s Boys actors put their fees that were paid to them by a production company owned by the show’s star Brendan O’Carroll into companies they controlled in Mauritius.
In light of the allegations, many licence fee payers have gone to social media to voice their outrage at the stars of the show avoiding paying tax.
They also demanded that the BBC cancel the hit comedy.
Fiona O’Carroll, the daughter of the show’s creator and star Brendan O’Carroll, who plays Maria and her husband Martin Delany, who plays Trevor, are said to have diverted their earnings into the offshore tax avoidance scheme.
Patrick Houlihan, who plays Mrs Brown’s son Dermot on the hit BBC sitcom, claims that he joined the Mauritius scheme on the advice from Roy Lyness, who acted as his British accountant.
However, Houlihan said that he “never knew what the f*** was going on” with his money.
@GrumpySkeletor surprised you're not tweeting about Mrs Brown's Boys dodging tax. Hopefully it gets axed now
— Bananus (@Bananus95) November 6, 2017
"Mrs Brown's Boys should be axed & thrown into the fuckin sea!"
"I know! How dare the actors not pay tax"
"No idea what you're on about"
— joe heenan (@joeheenan) November 6, 2017
The Daily Star Online contacted the BBC to comment on the matter, but received the reply: “The tax affairs of self-employed actors are a matter for those individuals.”
Though Lyness also does the accounting for the Mrs Brown’s Boys global operation, Brendan O’Carroll has stated that he did not use to tax avoidance scheme.
However, as he appeared on BBC’s Panorama last night, O’Carroll told presenter Richard Bilton that he pays the actor’s fees into UK accounts and “cannot control what happens afterwards”.
He told Panorama he had “never been part of any tax avoidance scheme.”
The Irish comedian then added: “I reserve the right to take the most severe legal action available to me – that is lawyer speak.
“I would have just said, f*** off.”
But taxpayers have not been kind to the show or its stars in light of this revelation.
One social media user said: “Will BBC drop Mrs Brown’s Boys over tax avoidance claims? If it were sexual harassment claims they’d be gone #bbcresponsibility”.
Another added added: “Mrs brown’s boys have been up to no good.
“Cancel it immediately. I am disgusted”
Another Twitter user posted: “Shame that you deliberately avoid paying tax, what is funny about that?”
Another said: “If the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys get done for tax evasion it will literally be the funniest thing they’ve ever done.”
Been waiting for years to boycott Mrs Brown's Boys; they truly are #ParadisePapers
— Joe Hynes (@Caenwee) November 6, 2017
Brendan O’Carroll’s production company is registered with his accountant Mr Lyness in Oldbury, West Midlands, who stated he was: “bound by client confidentiality as well as duties under the Data Protection Act not to divulge confidential information concerning my clients’ financial affairs”.
Brendan O’Carroll stated at the time that he was assured by Mr Lyness that the act was completely legal: He said neither “myself, my wife, or any company associated with Mrs Brown’s Boys are now or ever have been involved in any tax avoidance scheme.”
Houlihan told The Irish Times: “I was told the money went to a trust and it wasn’t mine until I received it, and I didn’t have to pay any tax until I got the money. I was in control of when I would pay tax,”.
“I thought that I would be in control of the schedule of repayment (of the loans) and that the money would always come back into the tax system. It was the best of both worlds. I got my money but I was in control of when I got it,” he continued.
“It wasn’t about dodging the tax. I wanted to pay the tax. [I want to] pay my taxes and live freely the way it was up until I got the phone call [from Panorama].”
Paddy Power has had bets placed that the series has a 5/1 chance of being cancelled in 2018 due to the scandal, whilst calling a 9/1 chance that the stage show could also be axed.
Talking on behalf of Paddy Power, Lee Price said: “I know it’s achingly cool to hate Mrs Brown’s Boys but, for once, the hipsters are right.
“So this leak has put a lot of hope into the people of Ireland, Britain and anyone who owns a television set. A Mrs Brown’s Boys-free year of telly really would be Paradise.”
David Cameron once stated that the tax avoidance schemes are “morally wrong”, although it is not illegal.
Rory Cowan who recently left the show after being a part of the show for 26 years claimed he had “absolutely nothing to do” with the scandal that the majority of the cast seem to be part of.
Aside from the pressures of Mrs Brown’s Boys being axed from our screens, Brendan O’Carroll recently revealed he was left fearing for his life after believing he had suffered a heart attack.
Whilst filming for the Christmas special back in October, the 62 year-old actor was taken ill and his wife Jennifer dialed 999 immediately.
Speaking of his experience to The Mirror, O’Carroll said: “I thought I was having a heart attack. I had this bug and at about 2am I had to wake [my wife] Jenny up. We were filming the Christmas special up in Glasgow.”
“It was all going on. I had the fright of my life and I thought I was a goner.
“When I got in the ambulance they said ‘Well it is not your heart ’ and I vomited it out for 12 hours. I had a very violent bug.”