DUBLIN (TheBlaze/AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron conceded Saturday that he had bungled his acknowledgement of his investment in an offshore fund, a controversy that drove thousands out onto London’s streets to denounce him and the Panama law firm involved.
Cameron drew laughs and applause from a sympathetic audience of Conservative Party activists as he opened a speech in London with a mea culpa.
“Well, it’s not been a great week,” he deadpanned. “I could have handled this better. I know there are lessons to learn, and I will learn them. And don’t blame No. 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers. Blame me.”
It was Cameron’s first public appearance since his admission Thursday night that he had owned shares in a Bahamas-based trust from 1997 to 2010, ending four days of obfuscating statements issued through aides.
The prime minister is one of scores of political leaders, celebrities and sports stars who have been linked to shell companies and investment trusts following last weekend’s massive data breach at the Panama City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in registering offshore companies.
Cameron has made the closure of global tax loopholes a focal point of his government, but rejected charges of hypocrisy on the issue.
“This government that I lead will go on very clearly, very doggedly, very determinedly making sure that we crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance,” he said.
Outside the Conservatives’ lavish event, dozens of police formed a human barrier as thousands of left-wing protesters demanded Cameron’s ouster. Many protesters waved placards portraying Cameron as an out-of-touch elitist, while others held signs mocking the Panama firm with the slogan “Mossack Fonseca: Because taxes are for poor people.”