Greg Wise, the actor married to Oscar winner Emma Thompson, has said he and his wife will refuse to pay tax until those involved in the HSBC scandal go to prison.
Wise spoke of his disgust with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the bank after the Guardian and other news organisations published leaked details of 100,000 accounts held by HSBC’s Swiss arm which showed how the bank had helped clients to move cash out of the country.
“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”
Wise, who is rehearsing for Kill Me Now, his first play in 17 years, said Thompson was willing to go along with his act of civil disobedience.
“Em’s on board. She agrees. We’re going to get a load of us together. A movement. They can’t send everyone to prison. But we’ll go to prison if necessary. I mean it. It’s going to be like 1848 all over again.”
HMRC has come under fire in the HSBC scandal because of a failure to carry out a criminal investigation against the bank, which has its headquarters in the UK. While the agency found more than 1,000 tax evaders among the almost 7,000 UK clients of HSBC Suisse, only one individual has been prosecuted. About £135m has been recovered in tax, a lower figure than in other European countries.
Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has apologised in writing and again on Monday, when he said the bank’s bosses were shamed and humbled by the scandal.
He has been summoned to appear before a Treasury select committee on Wednesday afternoon with the group’s chairman after revelations that he had a bank account in Switzerland that was routed through Panama. Lin Homer, the HMRC chief executive, will also be questioned.
Wise, a Labour supporter, expressed disappointment at the party as the country heads for a general election in May. “I’m in absolute despair at all of them,” he said. “I liked Tony before he made his mistakes. I cannot forgive him and the party, and the country. I was one of the 2 million out there, marching. Made fuck-all difference. There is no such thing as democracy.”
Wise said injustice made him more angry than anything. “Whether it’s someone being hassled in the street to HSBC getting away with this. I’m the least violent man you’ve ever met, but I will plough into fights in the street to stop someone being set upon. Days afterwards I’m a mess because I hate violence. But I cannot see injustice.”