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BBC takes action against Daily Star for freelancer stories

The BBC’s chief finance officer has vowed to hold the Daily Star responsible for spreading libelous rumours about how the broadcaster treats its freelancers in regards to their tax status, with the tabloid paper claiming BBC contractors have to engage in dodgy practices or be sacked.

BBC CFO, Zarin Patel, has brought a libel suit against the Daily Star for two stories appearing in the newspaper, both of which ran on 24 July of this year. Ms Patel alleges that the claims made by both articles, which delved into detail how the BBC, in an effort to save money, supposedly pressures its contractors into tax avoidance schemes or face losing their position, are patently false and that she gave no orders to engage in such an activity.

The BBC uses public service umbrella companies to provide the broadcaster with more than 3,000 freelance workers. While using agency workers in such a way is completely legal, there has been a massive furore over the use of personal service companies by public sector employees as a tax avoidance scheme in direct violation of IR35 regulations.

Ms Patel is more or less incensed by the Daily Star’s treatment of her and her entire department, making a claim against the tabloid newspaper in the High Court in London. The chief financial officer claims that the two stories resulted in her exposure to public contempt and scandal, caused significant levels of embarrassment and stress, and left her reputation seriously injured, especially since she alleges that both stories are complete fabrications.

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