Lorraine Kelly is - unofficially - the nicest person in the world. If you happen to be in your house from 8:30am, she’ll invite you to join her on the sofa, as she interviews celebrities in her eloquent Scottish lilt, enthusiastically nodding her head and sometimes (often) apologizing for making interview faux pas. (She is always, always forgiven.)
You might think you know Lorraine Kelly, because she has been on TV for 35 years. She is the cool aunt you want to catch up with at your cousin’s wedding; she is someone who comforts you when you are ill, or hungover, staying in from work; she is a smiling, radiant, national treasure. Lorraine Kelly is that ‘lovely’ and ‘kind’ that the actualGreatest ShowmanHugh Jackman congratulated her earlier this week for winning the Outstanding Contribution to British Television Award at the Royal Television Society Awards. Last year, Radio 1’s breakfast host Greg James created a whole segment on his show, cleverly titled Lorraine On Your Parade, to ruin listener’s big life announcements, after she announced that Olympic gymnast Louis Smith was retiring in an interview - before he did.
This morning, I regret to inform you that your perception of Lorraine Kelly is probably wrong. Because you don’t know Lorraine Kelly. You do not know her at all.
In a landmark (and completely mad) case, Lorraine has successfully swerved a whopping £1.2million tax bill, by claiming that, on her self-titled ITV daytime show, she is a ‘theatrical artist’ and freelancer who isn’t employed by ITV. The taxman, HMRC, had claimed the veteran presenter was an employee, rather than a freelance presenter, and should be subject to massive income tax contributions. Sounds ridiculous, but judge Jennifer Dean actually agreed with Kelly, ruling that the 59-year-old presents “a persona of herself”, meaning she could be considered a theatrical artist, with her payments to an agent being a tax deductable expense. (Our favourite detail is that she claimed she once turned down an interview with Sir Elton John - at 4am! - because she had to work with the BBC later that day; she evidently favours her beauty sleep.) Lorraine is also said to have pointed out that she controls her working hours, and that she isn't entitled to sick pay or a pension.
The quotes from the judge get even better, claiming that Lorraine is a good actress because she manages to stay chirpy, even though she might not like the guest she is interviewing, or, bizarrely, the food she eats on air. Judge Dean’s ruling stated: “We did not accept that Ms Kelly simply appeared as herself; we were satisfied that Ms Kelly presents a persona of herself. We should make clear we do not doubt that Ms Kelly is an entertaining lady, but the point is that for the time Ms Kelly is contracted to perform live on air she is public ‘Lorraine Kelly’; she may not like the guest she interviews, she may not like the food she eats, she may not like the film she viewed but that is where the performance lies.”
An HMRC spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the First Tier Tribunal has decided that the intermediary rules (also known as IR35) did not apply in this case. We will carefully consider the outcome of the tribunal before deciding whether to appeal.” Currently, HMRC is challenging personal services companies of presenters used by UK broadcasters.