Former Look North presenter Christa Ackroyd loses appeal against BBC tax bill

Christa Ackroyd
Christa Ackroyd
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Christa Ackroyd, the former presenter of the BBC’s Look North in Yorkshire, has lost her appeal against a tax tribunal ruling which last year landed her with a bill for around £200,000.

Ms Ackroyd was one of several on-screen personalities controversially hired by the corporation through “personal service companies”, a practice common in the industry at the time.

The tribunal ruled that she had been an employee of the corporation, not a freelance contractor, and was therefore liable for income tax and national insurance contributions.

But she had acted in good faith, having been encouraged by the BBC to be contracted through her own company, it added.

Ms Ackroyd, whose column for The Yorkshire Post appears today, said last night she was “disappointed” that her appeal had upheld the tribunal’s decision. The outstanding bill had been paid at the time of the original ruling, she added.

“It has been a very stressful seven years. I am meeting with counsel to look at what steps to take now,” Ms Ackroyd said.

The BBC has faced a storm of criticism for its contractual arrangements with high-profile faces, with many still to go before the courts.

Ms Ackroyd’s case, which ended her career with the corporation, hinged on the IR35 tax legislation, in which so-called “disguised employees” offer their services via a limited company, sometimes paying less tax than if they were employed full-time.

Dave Chaplin, founder of Contractor Calculator, a website for freelancers and contractors, said Ms Ackroyd had “a right to feel aggrieved”, having been poached by the BBC from ITV’s Calender.

“The only option she was given was to work via a limited company, which the BBC reassured her in 2012 was OK,” Mr Chaplin said.

HM Revenue and Customs welcomed the appeal decision, saying employment status was “never a matter of choice – it is always dictated by the facts”. The BBC said it was “reviewing the details of the judgment”.