Billionaire John Caudwell calls for consumer boycott of organisations which use tax-avoidance
Staffordshire billionaire John Caudwell has called on customers to boycott companies which don't pay enough tax.
The Potteries-raised philanthropist, who sold his Phones 4U company for £1.5bn in 2006, says businesses have a duty to help bankroll the British economy - particularly at a time when ordinary families are having to tighten their belts.
His call comes a month after the Government's public accounts committee accused Amazon, Google and Starbucks of "immorally minimising their tax obligations". The committee also demanded ministers "get a grip on large corporations which generate significant income in the UK but pay little or no tax".
Mr Caudwell, whose personal wealth is estimated at £1.28bn, backed the demand.
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"The public has every right to know what's going on," he said.
"I would encourage people to boycott organisations - and I would also apply this to my own companies - that aren't behaving in a fiscally responsible way.
"I think I've paid Britain's largest personal income tax bill for the past couple of years. I could have avoided that by moving to Monaco, but honestly I think this country needs my tax dollars. If everyone took their money offshore we would be stony broke."
Sixty-year-old Mr Caudwell was brought up in Shelton, but now lives near Eccleshall. He left Berry Hill High School when he was 17 for an apprenticeship at Michelin. In 1987 he set up his own mobile phone company. By 2003 it employed 8,000 staff around the world.
In an interview with The Sunday Times this week, Mr Caudwell hinted that he hadn't always been a keen taxpayer.
He said: "As a businessman, I'll admit that in the early days I did things that I probably wouldn't do now. I needed my business to grow - and that included tax planning.
"But there came a point when that didn't feel right. How can you preach about what's right for society and then not pay your whack to The Chancellor?"
Mr Caudwell has previously used consumer boycotts to make a point. In 2000 he launched a petition to blacklist German car giant BMW, in protest at its decision to sell-off its Birmingham-based Rover brand.
In recent years Mr Caudwell, who is believed to be the 464th richest man in the world, has set up the Caudwell Children charity, based in Stoke-on-Trent.
Last year he made headlines when he stepped in, with a donation of £1.8m, to save the project to build a memorial to Bomber Command, in London's Green Park.