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Byline: Examiner News Correspondent

ED Miliband has challenged David Cameron to say whether he agrees with a former Conservative treasurer's claim that "everyone" engages in tax avoidance. After Tory peer Lord Fink's admission that he had taken "vanilla, bland" avoidance measures to reduce his tax liabilities, Mr Miliband said the Prime Minister was facing "a defining moment" in his leadership.

But the Labour leader was accused of a "major climbdown" by hedge-fund multi-millionaire Lord Fink, after he insisted that his House of Commons attack on "dodgy donors" to the Conservative Party was not directed at the peer personally.

Mr Miliband intervened on Wednesday in the escalating row over alleged tax avoidance activities linked to HSBC's Swiss subsidiary by naming Lord Fink - under the cloak of parliamentary privilege - as one of the UK citizens listed as having an account at the bank's Geneva branch and accusing Mr Cameron of being "a dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors".

A furious Lord Fink challenged the Labour leader to repeat the allegation outside Parliament and threatened legal action if he did so.

But, with Labour sources making clear that Mr Miliband planned to do exactly that, the Tory peer made a surprise admission to London's Evening Standard: "I don't even want to sue Ed Miliband ... If he simply uses the words 'Lord Fink did ordinary tax avoidance' then, no, I couldn't sue him. But if he made the statement 'dodgy' about my bank account, that was potentially libellous. That was the issue I took exception to."

He admitted taking tax avoidance measures "at the vanilla, bland, end of the spectrum", adding: "The expression tax avoidance is so wide that everyone does tax avoidance at some level."


Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband delivers a speech on educa-|tion policy at his former school Haverstock School, in north London.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2015
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