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Wednesday 27 March 2013

Telegraph Expat Hypocrisy

Following the Cyprus bailout, the spectre of unfortunate expats having their bank accounts raided has proved a fruitful patch for editors looking to put on a few more sales by frightening the readers. And the Maily Telegraph has been no exception, with Brussels point man Bruno Waterfield – a worthy successor to Boris Johnson when it comes to stories of dubious veracity – in a starring role.

All British expats face Eurozone raids on their savings” he proclaimed, which would be difficult for all those expats who have not settled in the Eurozone. So clearly anyone daft enough to up sticks and move to Cyprus, or Spain, or Italy, or Portugal, has not been listening to the munificent expertise of the Telegraph, or they would have become wise to the point of going elsewhere.

Or maybe they wouldn’t: “Sun, sea and sand – and low tax for pensioners” proclaimed Harriet Meyer back in 2008, in the, er, Telegraph. “A stable currency and no inheritance tax makes Cyprus a popular place for Britons to retire”, she went on, telling how better off retirees could take advantage of a flat rate of tax set at just 5%. So that daft advice came from the same paper now doing the frightening.

And what was that Bruno Waterfield was saying about Portugal’s banks being “in trouble”? So his paper wouldn’t be trying to tempt its readers into investing in them, would it? Er, yes it would: “Portugal relaxes tax rules for expats” proclaimed Justin Harper only last August. “Portugal has relaxed its tax rules for affluent expats to encourage more of them to park funds in the country”. Oh dear.

Well, OK, but that’s an exception, surely? No it isn’t: last June, Suzi Dixon told readers “Still ‘plenty of incentives’ to move to Spain”, talking of property prices which have fallen even further since that was written. And only this January, Peter Pallot calmed reader nerves over health insurance: “Don’t let health worries cloud the Spanish sunshine”. Or worries over that Euro bank account with the savings in it.

Dare one ask about Italy or France , then? Ooh, go on: Max Davidson brought Telegraph readers the “Top 10 places to retire overseas”. At number one was south-west France, and third in the list, the Italian Adriatic region of Le Marche (the top ten also featured the Canary Islands – ie Spain – and Cyprus). So lots more temptation to go and open an account where you now shouldn’t.

And don’t forget, Telegraph readers, that whatever Waterfield is telling you, “There’s never been a better time to move abroad”, as Alison Steed told only last November, together with a photo of a beach on Spain’s Costa del Sol, the land of all those dodgy banks that you should actually be avoiding. There’s clearly nothing quite like facing both ways on an issue if you want to sell newspapers.

After all, as long as the readers buy, the Telegraph doesn’t care about them.

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