UK foreign minister raises BBC tax searches, India says laws are for all

March 2, 2023 5:08 am

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly [Source: Reuters]

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly raised the issue of tax searches at the BBC’s offices in India during a meeting with his counterpart in New Delhi on Wednesday, the minister told Reuters.

In response, Cleverly was “firmly told that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations”, an Indian government source said.

Last month, India’s tax authorities spent three days searching the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, where they cloned data from the digital devices of some senior employees.

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Cleverly did not share details about the conversation with India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar ahead of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday.

“The conversations I had with him are best to keep with him. I did raise it,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“One of the advantages of having such a strong and professional relationship with Dr. Jaishankar is I am able to bring up, and indeed he brings up with me, some of these sensitive issues. I did raise it with him.”

However, he said that the vast bulk of the conversation was about the positive bilateral work.

The hallmark of a positive relationship, he said, “is that you can discuss the sensitive and difficult issues and it doesn’t derail us from talking about the really, really positive agenda that we are both hoping to pursue”.

Asked if there were concerns about civil liberties in India, Cleverly said: “We want to ensure that values that both our countries feel strongly about are upheld. That means working together on a range of issues.”