Elton John sues The Times over tax avoidance stories

Sir Elton John is suing The Times for defamation over a series of articles linking him with a controversial tax avoidance scheme.

He is demanding damages over a string of stories published by the paper in June including one headlined 'Secrets of the tax avoiders"

Sir Elton says the stories suggest he was suspected of taking part in immoral tax avoidance schemes, which he says caused severe damage to his reputation and serious personal distress and embarrassment.

In a High Court writ, the singer said that while he is deeply committed to fundraising for charity and the Elton John Aids Foundation, he fears the stories could discourage people from attending events associated with him such as the White Tie and Tiara Ball.

The stories had a particular tendency to damage his charity work, he says, calling into question his commitment and the basis of his knighthood.

The Times' stories about tax avoidance drew widespread attention, with Prime Minister David Cameron commenting directly on the conduct of comedian Jimmy Carr.

Sir Elton says he was referred to in the stories without 'any proper journalistic basis".

The Times failed to check the false allegation that Patrick McKenna – the client of several celebrities linked with tax avoidance - had been his accountant, he says, adding that the claim would lead readers to believe he had been advised to take part in one of the schemes.

His solicitors complained to the editor of The Times on 21 June, saying McKenna had never been his accountant and that Sir Elton had never been linked to tax avoidance.

His lawyers asked for a prominent apology but instead, says Sir Elton, the paper printed a four-line correction saying only McKenna was not his former accountant. He believes this is wholly inadequate and lacked comparable prominence to the allegation made on the front page and page six, deliberately ignoring the defamatory impact of the words.

Sir Elton is now seeking damages and aggravated damages for alleged libel, and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the heart of the lawsuit.

He has instructed solicitor Claire Gill of Carter-Ruck to act for him.

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