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Duke of Westminster donates £12.5 million to NHS staff – with their own money

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Duke of Westminster donates £12.5 million to NHS staff – with their own money
Billionaire bachelor the Duke of Westminster, one of the UK’s richest people, has scored some good PR with a grand NHS donation… but his tainted money proves he is morally bankrupt.

The Duke of Westminster astride a white horse has nobly ridden to the rescue of Britain's embattled NHS and its peasant workers.

That was the message conveyed in many newspapers and broadcasters, after the richest person under-30 in the world donated £10 million ($12.5 million).That was on top of the £2.5 million the man, dubbed the world's most eligible bachelor, had already pledged. His dim-witted cheerleaders were quick to point out that this also made Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor the biggest Covid-19 donor in Britain.

The allegedly “media-shy” Duke even made sure we all knew where it came from.

His public statement included the lines, “I want to say a huge thank you to all our amazing NHS staff and everyone providing critical frontline services. We are all humbled and incredibly grateful that you are working tirelessly to keep us safe and keep the country functioning” and “NHS staff and key workers don't work in isolation.” 

One word of that statement hit the nail on the head – isolation.

We function together as a society with basic constitutional principles of democracy, the rule of law and access to certain rights.We also have a moral constitution where we may choose to hold open doors for others, help out someone less fortunate and throw litter in the bin.

In morality, the Duke is in self-isolation. His donation equates to roughly 0.125 percent of his £10.1 billion estimated wealth. None of which has he earned or worked to get.

His father, the previous Duke of Westminster left behind an £8.3 billion fortune after his death in 2016, which was not liable for inheritance tax. The rest of his wealth had already been passed onto the cherub-cheeked Hugh.

All of this was done via a family trust, which dodges inheritance tax as trusts are not regarded as part of an individual's estate. There is a law that every 10 years from their creation, a trust will be subject to a six-percent charge, but relief is offered for business properties and farming – which reportedly the Duke's trust makes use of.

Their major asset is 300 acres of prime London, encompassing the super-expensive districts of Mayfair and Belgravia.The longtime American Embassy was even sited on the Duke's land, until it moved a few years ago.

There are also vast parcels of land around the UK and property investments in more than 60 countries.

There's also Grosvenor Farms, which has a site totalling around 6,000 acres in Cheshire and a herd of over 2,000 dairy cows, plus among other rural holdings is a hydroelectric plant on their land in Scotland's Reay Forest.

Finally, there's the family's estate Eaton Hall covering about 10,800 acres, stock market investments and a fine art collection featuring pieces by Rembrandt and Lucian Freud.

Trusts involve three parties; the settlor who establishes the trust, the trustees who manage the assets, and the beneficiary, who the settlor wishes to benefit from the trust. Without this arrangement under British law, an estate worth over £325,000 is liable for 40 percent inheritance tax. It's a loophole that the Duke benefitted from to avoid paying the state around £4 billion.

It is entirely legal and is utilised by ultra-rich families to ensure their dynastic wealth is handed down from one generation to another.

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Working class people don't have the wealth to take advantage of. They have to toe the line and hand over what is due to the Exchequer. That money, along with other forms of taxation, is what funds sectors like the police, fire and education. It also allows the state to employ doctors, nurses, build hospitals, order equipment and pay for medicines.

If people wish to avoid tax, that's their choice – that is not a crime, unlike tax evasion.

What is also a choice is how your subsequent actions are judged.

The Duke of Westminster's wealth largely comes from the UK being a long-time prosperous nation, thanks to a history of ingenuity and work ethic. That all stems from the normal people who strived to improve, design new inventions and served the public.

He's standing on the shoulders of people like the heroic 13 workers at the Isobel Fraser Home in Inverness who are living in three campervans in the car park to protect their patients.

Outside of a society like that, Hugh's land and assets wouldn't be worth anything like they are. So to make a display of paying health workers back with their own money shows the mark of the man – it's morally bankrupt.

If you want to fund the NHS and truly help out the workers and their families, stop sheltering wealth in loopholes and then appear out of nowhere to scatter some gold coins for those in need to scramble over.

That's his cloth to cut. He's no hero and no role model – he's a clueless, out of touch buffoon.

The Duke has robbed Peter to pay Paul. Only Paul has ended up with a lot less than what was snatched from Peter.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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