Martin Clunes undergoes secret cosmetic treatment - and tries to offset cost for tax

Olivia Rudgard

Martin Clunes is challenging the taxman after it said he could not offset the cost of mystery cosmetic surgery against his income from acting.

The actor, who has a distinctive appearance and has previously described himself as "odd-looking", asked a tax tribunal judge to grant him anonymity for the appeal but was denied. 

Mr Clunes claimed that the surgery had been essential "for the purposes of his acting trade", but HMRC is says that he should not be allowed to offset the cost to reduce his tax bill. 

He asked a court to allow him to appeal the decision anonymously, but Judge Colin Bishopp ruled that he must be identifiable. 

The actor, who has appeared in Men Behaving Badly, Doc Martin and Reggie Perrin, argued that he might "become the target of mockery and jokes" if his identity was revealed. 

He argued that "fans like to retain a certain image of the actors and others they admire" and he had a "legitimate interest" in maintaining his image.

Mr Clunes gave the example of a magician who is reluctant to reveal how he does his tricks.

The judge, who said that the case had nothing to do with tax avoidance, added that he had "some sympathy" with his position, but that he must be identified so that the case could be properly understood by the public. 

Lawyers for HMRC argued that he should be named, and said that ordinary taxpayers who were not in the public eye would have no hope of appealing a decision anonymously.

The tribunal will determine whether the treatment was necessary or a "a vain indulgence". The nature of the treatment is not known, but the judge added that it was "not mundane and unlikely to attract attention". 

The decision was given in December but only published today. The full appeal will take place on an unknown date. 

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