BBC and ITV presenter wins £1.7m IR35 tribunal

Marked differences between Chiles and typical contractors

While HMRC pursuing contractors for vast sums is always likely to concern contractors – who can still be subject to an IR35 investigation despite recent reform – it’s important that the differences between Chiles and the average contractor are made clear.

As is often the case with presenters, they aren’t able to hold or exercise the right of substitution, given the programme can rely heavily on the individual. Meanwhile, editorial control of the show being presented tends to sit with the broadcaster, which usually exercises the right to tell the presenter when, where and how the work should be delivered. 

But for IT contractors, financial services consultants and freelance marketeers, this is rarely the case. In these instances, demonstrating outside IR35 status to businesses or even HMRC is far more straightforward.
28th February 2022
Written by Qdos Contractor

Adrian Chiles scores big victory in long-running IR35 battle with HMRC

High-profile TV presenter and journalist, Adrian Chiles, has won his £1.7million IR35 case after enduring a seven-year battle with HMRC.

The tax authority had handed Chiles two bills – one for Income Tax totalling £1,249,233 and the other for National Insurance Contributions, for £460,739.

These amounts focused on the period between April 2012 and April 2017, relating to the work the host had carried out for the BBC and ITV.

Chiles, who is best-known for presenting The One Show and Match of the Day 2 on BBC, and Daybreak on ITV, provided a broadcasting and journalism service through his company, Basic Broadcasting Ltd.

HMRC argued that his BBC and ITV contracts fell inside IR35, meaning Chiles owed over £1.7million in tax. 

However, a first-tier tribunal ruled in favour of Chiles. The case was heard at two first-tier tribunals over an eight-day period after a seven year investigation. 

Judge Jonathan Cannan said in his ruling that Chiles’ work contracts were for services and not contracts of employment, meaning IR35 did not apply. 

This was despite the host not having the right of substitution, Mutuality of Obligation (MoO) existing in the contracts, and both the BBC and ITV holding editorial control over the work Chiles performed. 

Victory hinged on Chiles ‘being in business on his own account’ 

In his judgment, Cannan said there were a number of factors that pointed towards Chiles’ being in business on his own account and therefore outside IR35. 

These included:

  • Hiring a personal assistant
  • Paying an agency 15% of his fees to manage and develop his career
  • Carrying out unpaid activities to maintain and grow his profile, while also turning down work
  • Helping create a show and being entitled to a 50% share of production profits
  • Developing and pitching his own ideas and contributing to other television programmes
  • Presenting other programmes for various production companies
  • Writing for several national newspapers


Chiles told to work via a PSC by the BBC

The judge also pointed out that not only did Chiles benefit from sound business management, but he had provided his services to nearly 100 different clients since he set up his company in 1996 – something that, according to the case notes, the presenter was told to do by the BBC. 

In fact, Chiles is one of many BBC presenters in recent years to have been investigated by HMRC over their IR35 status, after the broadcaster insisted they work as a contractor rather than an employee. 

A tribunal in 2019 found that the BBC “forced” presenters to work through personal services companies (PSCs), with many being “wrongly” placed on contracts outside IR35.

Qdos Contractor
Written by
Qdos Contractor
Award-winning providers of insurance for the self-employed, Qdos are the leading authority on IR35, offering industry-leading employment status services to ensure the flexible working industry thrive. Qdos are the Best Contractor Insurance Provider 2022 and won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2022 and 2017. 

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