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Taking a stand – for IR35

The BBC are well known for their impartiality and having strict rules for its presenters. This level of control by the BBC has been well analsyed and documented in IR35 cases over the last 5 years. 

Gary Lineker was one such presenter and was back in the news again for writing a political tweet. Gary was then swiftly suspended from Match of the Day as a result. Like a naughty school-boy, this was not the first time Mr Lineker had disobeyed his ‘master’! IR35 is ingrained into our brains and so at Marble, we can’t help but wonder whether IR35 played a part in all of this and the subsequent fall out.

Show them who’s the boss. 

A key part of an employment relationship, is the level of control a client has over a worker. My Lineker makes it clear that the BBC are not in fact his master by repeatedly disobeying the BBC’s rules, he is his own boss and will do what he wants. In a tax tribunal, if HMRC then used evidence that the BBC’s rules established a high degree of control, Mr Lineker could provide factual evidence that this was not the case.

Jump on the control bandwagon!

It was then interesting to see his fellow colleagues standing in solidarity with Mr Lineker and refusing to take part in various other programmes. The IR35 cynic cannot help but question whether there was a dual benefit of taking a stand against the BBC. On the one-hand they get to support their colleague which I am sure would have been the primary purpose, but they also create clear evidence that they are also not controlled. Nor any mutuality of obligation and that personal service may be desired, but cannot be required – all of which would be very important for defending an IR35 challenge. 

This is all just a theory, but it certainly has merit. Maybe one day we will see a tax tribunal judgement involving one of those presenters who reference the stand they took with Gary Lineker to help show that IR35 cannot apply.