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May 25 - 31 2011
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 31-32
Huhne in hot water Pressure grows for minister as wife reveals driving licence
Milly Dowler murder trial Teenager’s troubled relationship with her family unpicked in court
WORLD NEWS P15
Strauss-Khan bailed Wife of the former IMF chief puts up $1m cash and $5m assets
The trouble with soy Louise Gray on the impact of GM crops on villagers in Paraguay
15 6 20 36 38 42 4 17 23 24 30 35
Bonus Ball 4
Bonus Ball 5
There were two winners of Wednesday’s £2.6m prize and one winner of Saturday’s £4.4m jackpot
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By Andy Bloxham and Henry Samuel in Paris ABOUT 200,000 Britons who own holiday homes in France are to be charged a new tax that could cost them thousands of pounds a year.
a wealth tax as well as income tax.
Val Leatham, 49, from Lancaster, and her husband, Andrew, 52, who owns a construction firm, have a cottage on the outskirts of the village of Treignac, near Limoges in central France.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, who is floundering in the polls, has introduced the levy in an attempt to improve his economic credentials before elections next spring.
The change has been criticised by many property owners who already pay two taxes to the French authorities.
They have spent eight weeks a year there for the past eight years but do not let it because “it’s our personal getaway”. She said: “I’m not very happy about this new tax, especially as we don’t make any money from renting it, but I don’t suppose there’s anything we can do about it.”
Some homeowners are likely to be forced to sell their properties. There has been speculation that the tax could be challenged in the European Court as it might be discriminatory against foreign owners of second homes.
The property tax is due to come into force in January.
Christopher Bailey, 69, a retired management consultant, and his wife, Georgina Howell, an author, who own a medieval manor that they renovated in northwest France, said they resented the extra levy. Mr Bailey said: “To keep what is a fairly substantial property in France, we’re having to find other sources of income. Now, we might have to sell up.”
To calculate the amount owed, the French government estimates the value of the annual rent the property could generate – the valeur locative cadastrale – then charges the owner 20 per cent whether or not it is ever actually let. For example, a family with a two-bedroom flat in Normandy worth £350,000 would have to pay roughly an extra £700 a year; the owners of a £5.5million second home in a fashionable part of Paris would pay about £3,400 extra a year.
There are estimated to be 360,000 non-resident secondhome owners in France, of which about 200,000 are British.
They already pay two taxes: the taxe fonciere, which is paid by the person who owns a house; and the taxe d’habitation, which is paid by those who live in it.
Some expatriates, who are considered residents, also pay
Stewart Cook, a property agent with the firm Classic French Homes, said: “Already hit by a weak pound, many British owners who are having to consider selling on economic grounds will treat this news as the last straw.”
The tax could yet face challenges in the courts. Clare Brown, of the British Association of the Var, in Provence, south-east France, said: “There is a strong feeling among the French legal profession that this new tax will be challenged in the European courts and will not, therefore, be applied next year as proposed.”
Caroline Cohen, a Londonbased solicitor at the French Law Practice, said: “This new 20 per cent tax is likely to be challenged under European law since, in practice, it will discriminate against foreign owners of holiday homes.”
New wave Cannes prize for Dunst
KIRSTEN DUNST collected the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night for her part in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’. The Palme d’Or for best film went to Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’. ‘The Tree of Life’ review: Page 27
By Martin Evans THE law surrounding privacy injunctions was described as being at “breaking point” this week after a newspaper used its front page to identify a high-profile footballer with a gagging order.
The Sunday Herald, which is published in Scotland, took the decision as tens of thousands of people defied the courts to go online and name the married Premier League star, who is alleged to have had an affair with the former Miss Wales, Imogen Thomas.
One MP described the backlash against the gagging orders as the biggest act of civil disobedience for decades and said the law was becoming a joke.
Last Friday, lawyers acting for the footballer began legal action against Twitter, the USbased website on which the player’s name was posted, in an attempt to force it to hand over details of users who breached the injunction. But within hours of the move, tens of thousands of people were posting the footballer’s name online.
The Sunday Herald, which argued that it was not bound by the injunction because it is published north of the border — under a different legal system — intensified the row by publishing the footballer’s picture on its front page and naming him inside.
John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has campaigned against injunctions, said the law required an urgent rethink.
“The judges’ application of privacy law is now close to breaking point, under pressure from the biggest act of civil disobedience seen for many years,” he said. “Thirty thousand people have broken the law by telling a joke. This is making the judge’s application of the law a joke.”
The Sunday Herald said it believed the law was no longer workable.
Gagging orders: Page 6
By Jon Swaine in New York LORD HURD’S daughter-inlaw has been found dead after apparently committing suicide by jumping from the roof of her home in New York.
Catherine Hurd, a mother of five, fell four storeys from the top of the rented town house where she lived with the former foreign secretary’s son Thomas, a British diplomat. Mrs Hurd, 46, left no note.
“All we can say is that no criminality is suspected,” a spokesman for New York police said.
It is thought that Mrs Hurd, who told neighbours that she taught English at an international school, was due to return to London next week. Her husband, 45, is at the end of a posting as a senior British official at the United Nations.
Mrs Hurd was discovered at 4.27am on Saturday on the pavement outside her home. Police arrived at the building after receiving an emergency call.
She was taken to Cornell University Medical Centre by paramedics and was pronounced dead shortly after.
George Rooney, the couple’s neighbour, said Mrs Hurd was a “very nice, very pretty lady”, who had lived next door for about six months.
Mr Rooney added that his wife, Susan, had seen Mrs Hurd earlier that day. “We were having a street sale and she’d already given lots of books because they were moving to England. She stopped and told Susan, ‘I have more books for you.’ She seemed happy as ever,” he said.
Mrs Rooney had heard a noise at midnight, which she thought was a radio “but may have been people next door talking. But just talking. We never heard them argue”.
Some of the couple’s five children are at school in England, the neighbour said, and visited New York only occasionally.
Mr Hurd, a former investment banker, was a contemporary of David Cameron at Eton and Oxford, where he was two years ahead of the Prime Minister.
For the past few years he has been in New York, where he is listed as working for the British delegation on the UN Security Council.