Is Emma Thompson really willing to go to prison over tax?
Actor Greg Wise has announced that he and his wife Emma Thompson are willing to go to prison to protest against tax evasion.
The U.K. financial sector has been rocked by the HSBC tax evasion scandal over the last few weeks and it is this that has prompted the Walking on Sunshine actor to threaten a boycott.
"I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax," Wise told the London Evening Standard. "I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound f**king socialist and I believe we are all in it together.
"But I am disgusted with HMRC," he went on. "I am disgusted with HSBC. And I'm not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison."
"Em's on board. She agrees," he added. "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," he said, referring to the series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848.
Russell Brand showed his support for Wise and Thompson on his Twitter page backing their plans for a mass tax boycott:
Brand also published a page from his anti-democracy book Revolution, in which he proposed a similar idea, taking it a step further and urging Brits to stop paying all bills, including mortgage payments and taxes, to protest against the government.
Chancellor George Osborne hinted in the Commons this week that HSBC could face prosecution for its Swiss arm helping over 1,000 wealthy British clients evade taxes. So far only one has been prosecuted. Hefty financial penalties for banks, companies and accountants who help people evade tax will be announced in next month's Budget, in order to ensure they face the same penalties as the clients who benefit. A new offence of "corporate failure" is expected to be proposed.
As Swiss private banks are scrutinised in the U.K, the chairman and chief executive of HSBC publicly apologised for "unacceptable" practices at the private bank.
German prosecutors are investigating the private banking arm of Coutts, which is based in Switzerland. Current and former staff and the bank itself are being investigated following allegations that clients were advised on tax evasion.