A CYCLING shepherd is putting tax-dodging on the agenda with a 24-hour, 160-mile cycle ride.
Kelso’s Arthur Cross starts his journey in Greenock today to raise awareness of multinational companies avoiding paying tax in developing countries.
The 52-year-old was inspired to take action after hearing about the Christian Aid campaign against tax- dodging giants.
This is not his first cycle for Christian Aid. Last year he completed a two-week bike ride around the coast of Scotland for the charity.
When asked why he’d chosen Christian Aid, he replied: “I have family from Africa and the charity helps support those with HIV and raises global-warming issues.”
Arthur plans to cycle a mile per billion to show the $160billion a year that multinational firms avoid paying in tax in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The endurance cyclist plans to set off at 6pm, cycling 80 miles before resting for a few hours in Peebles and finishing back at Greenock by 6pm the next day.
Asked why Greenock, he said: “It’s a Christian Aid stronghold.”
His route will take him through Glasgow, East Kilbride, Paisley, Peebles, Galashiels and Kelso and back.
The campaigner plans to meet Borders MP Michael Moore as he cycles through Galashiels, urging the Secretary of State for Scotland to campaign for a “fair playing field” in Africa. He will tell the MP that some of the biggest multinationals work in some of the poorest countries in the world, taking advantage by using clever accountancy to move money and avoid paying tax in that country.
Arthur is critical that “far more money flows out of Africa than comes in due to tax-dodging”, and he wants others to know how bad the situation is.
Christian Aid Scotland’s campaigns officer, Diane Green, said: “Well done to Arthur for taking on this cycle to raise awareness of this very important issue.”
Arthur’s cycle comes as Christian Aid calls on world leaders to end tax haven secrecy when the G20 meets in Cannes next month.
Christian Aid supporters are being urged to contact Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to call for an end to tax havens.
Arthur expects the ride will be more challenging than previous events, but as long as it is successful he said he doesn’t mind.
He added: “I may be knackered on Friday, but at long as I have a warm bed to go to, I’ll be fine – but many won’t.”
He hopes his 24-hour blast will inspire others to try and make a difference.