UK Uncut was a network of United Kingdom-based protest groups
established in October 2010 to protest against cuts to public services
and tax avoidance in the UK. Various sources have
described the group as left-wing in its political
2 Tactics and targets
4 See also
6 External links
The idea of
UK Uncut originated in October 2010 with a group of ten
activists in a north London pub who claimed that clamping down on tax
avoidance would be a credible alternative to public sector spending
Private Eye had recently published an article alleging that
Vodafone had reached a highly favourable settlement of a long-standing
tax dispute with
HM Revenue and Customs
HM Revenue and Customs so they organised a protest
against a store on Oxford Street. Protesters met at Piccadilly and
successfully closed the store.
Tactics and targets
The group uses direct action to disrupt the business of high street
stores and banks that they believe have a connection with tax
avoidance. Actions are organised independently by local UK Uncut
groups and promoted through the
UK Uncut website.
Vodafone was targeted after
Private Eye alleged that a deal they made
HM Revenue and Customs
HM Revenue and Customs substantially reduced the amount of back
taxes that they had to pay.
Private Eye alleged that
originally found liable for £6 billion, but negotiated the amount to
be paid down to under £2 billion. However, the National Audit
Office said that the settlement represented reasonable value for the
The Arcadia Group's shops including Topshop, BHS, and Burton have been
targeted as the group is owned by Tina Green, the wife of Sir Phillip
Green. Tina Green is a resident of
Monaco and was able to receive a
dividend of £1.2bn from the group free of UK income tax in 2005.
Boots was targeted on 30 January 2011 as the protesters claimed it
avoided UK tax by being registered in Switzerland. Three people needed
hospital treatment after police used
CS spray when attempting to
arrest a protester.
Fortnum & Mason was targeted during the 26 March 2011 anti-cuts
UK Uncut claimed that the parent company, Wittington
Investments was "guilty of tax avoidance". This took the form of a
mass sit-in. The police arrested and charged 138 protesters with
aggravated trespass. Of these, ten were convicted and were given a
conditional discharge and fined £1,000. Their convictions were
upheld at the Court of Appeal.
In November 2011, the legal arm of
UK Uncut took HM Revenue &
Customs to court. HMRC had been accused of failing to provide
substantial reasons for not collecting billions of pounds in tax
It must be noted that HMRC are unable to comment on specific
taxpayers' tax affairs. Instead, the National Audit Office (NAO) were
asked to review the settlements in question, one being Vodafone, as
mentioned above. The NAO found that "the settlements reached by HMRC
in these five cases were all reasonable".
Through meetings on
Twitter at the end of January it was decided that
UK Uncut targets would be banks that were alleged to have
caused the financial crisis and had been bailed out by the government
with billions of pounds.
UK Uncut called for people to stage
"bail-ins" to turn banks into things that
UK Uncut perceived as being
threatened by the cuts.
HSBC have also been accused of avoiding £2 billion worth of tax by
Private Eye magazine by using a complicated system of channeling
profits through the Netherlands,. This has led to them being
targeted by UK Uncut.
On 19 February 2011,
Barclays was targeted. The date was arranged to
coincide with their bonus announcements. It was also alleged that
Barclays was only paying 1% corporation tax in the UK.
On 26 February, a day of action was called against the Royal Bank of
Scotland and their subsidiary Natwest. The protest was arranged to
coincide with the banks' bonus announcements. Once again protestors
turned bank branches into services that they considered were
threatened by the cuts.
On 9 October 2011, 2,000 health workers and activists took part in a
sit-down protest on
Westminster Bridge organised by
UK Uncut in
opposition to the proposed Health and Social Care Bill.
The group has also targeted Atos, an IT company whose healthcare
division operates a program for the Department for Work and Pensions
to assess workers claiming disability benefits to see if they are
"incapable" of work. Critics have felt that its program has lacked
integrity and that its real goal is to divert funding from the
disabled due to a lowered budget. The group also felt that it was
Atos to sponsor the
2012 Summer Paralympics
2012 Summer Paralympics in
London, a complimentary event to the Olympics for the disabled given
how its operation of the program has impacted the lives of many
disabled workers through the denial of benefits.
UK Uncut held a week
of protests dubbed "The
Atos Games" during the last week of August to
coincide with the start of the Paralympics ending with a joint
Disabled People Against Cuts
Disabled People Against Cuts on 31 August outside
the London headquarters of
Atos and the Department for Work and
UK Uncut protesters, who were unimpressed by Starbucks' offer to pay
£20 million corporation tax in the next two years, took part in
protests in December 2012.
A similar protest group inspired by
UK Uncut has formed in the USA
under the name US Uncut. The protest also spread to other European
countries, creating decentralized protest groups like Portugal
Uncut. A group called Take VAT targeted several companies avoiding
VAT by selling goods to the UK through the Channel Islands.
^ a b Mark Townsend (19 December 2010). "High street stores hit in day
of action over corporate tax avoidance". The Observer. Retrieved 20
^ Shackleton, Len. "
UK Uncut is wrong about tax avoidance". IEA.
^ "Support high street protests on Saturday". Public and Commercial
^ Hyde, John (5 April 2011). "Canary Wharf security expect peaceful UK
Uncut protest". The Docklands.
^ "Uncut activists protest at bank for low tax payment". 21 February
^ "UK Uncut". UK Uncut. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 20 December
^ May, Christian (5 April 2011). "
UK Uncut to Pieces". The
^ Lee Adams, William (29 July 2011). "TIME". TIME.
^ "Murdoch attacker is a 'renowned left-wing activist who had targeted
Barclays and Vodafone'". Daily Mail. 20 July 2011.
^ Hari, Johann (21 February 2011). "How to Build a Progressive Tea
^ Paul Lewis, Adam Gabbatt, Matthew Taylor and Simon Jeffery (3
December 2010). "
UK Uncut protesters spied upon by undercover police".
The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2010. CS1 maint: Multiple
names: authors list (link)
^ "Vodafone-a-Friend at HMRC". Private Eye. Archived from the original
on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
^ a b Settling large tax disputes National Audit Office. Nao.org.uk
(2012-06-14). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
^ "Tax protesters step up protest against stores". BBC News. 18
^ Matthew Taylor & Jonathan Paige (30 January 2011). "Police use
CS spray on tax protesters". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February
^ "Police use CS gas on tax protesters". The Daily Telegraph. 30
January 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
^ "BBC News -
CS spray used on
UK Uncut protest". BBC News. 30 January
2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
^ "Cuts protesters claim police tricked them into mass arrest".
Ukuncut.org.uk. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
^ Malik, Shiv (28 March 2011). "Cuts protesters claim police tricked
them into mass arrest". The Guardian.
^ Malik, Shiv (2011-11-17). "Fortnum & Mason protesters convicted
of aggravated trespass". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved
^ "Fortnum and Mason protesters lose conviction appeal". BBC News.
2013-03-22. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
^ Tom Nicolson (20 December 2011). "
UK Uncut Takes HMRC to Court".
International Business Times UK. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
^ "Targets - Banks". UK Uncut. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
^ "Going Dutch". Private Eye. November 2010. Archived from the
original on 29 December 2010.
^ Daniel Boffey (26 December 2010). "UK Undressed: Bodybuilding
fanatic brings chaos to Britain's high streets as ringleader of
anti-tax avoidance movement". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 29 December
^ "Uncut protesters target
Barclays bank". The Daily Telegraph. 19
February 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
^ Amelia Hill (27 February 2011). "
UK Uncut turns ire on RBS as
protests spread to US". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
^ Taylor, Matthew (9 October 2011). "Protesters against NHS reforms
occupy Westminster Bridge". The Guardian.
^ Poulton, Sonia (30 August 2012). "The
Atos Games will showcase
disabled people's anger at Paralympic sponsors". The Guardian.
Retrieved 30 August 2012.
^ Addley, Esther (31 August 2012). "Paralympic sponsor
Atos hit by
protests". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
^ Escobales, Roxanne; McVeigh, Tracy (8 December 2012). "
UK Uncut protests as tax row boils over". Guardian. Retrieved 8
^ "BBC News -
Starbucks agrees to pay more corporation tax".
Bbc.co.uk. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
^ Matthew Taylor & Paul Lewis (18 February 2011). "UK Uncut:
grassroots protests spread from Wales to Mississippi". The Guardian.
Retrieved 18 February 2011.
^ "Portugal Uncut's Blog".
^ Jonathan Paige (10 February 2011). "Take VAT plans action against
companies avoiding the 20% tax". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February
UK Uncut on Facebook
UK Uncut on Twitter
UK Uncut - Guardian video 10 February 2011
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