Arise Sir Lewis! Formula One star Hamilton to be knighted after Boris Johnson bends rules to place seven-time world champion on ‘Diplomatic and Overseas List’ to sidestep fact he’s a tax exile
- Lewis Hamilton will be knighted after Boris Johnson bypassed tax concerns
- The F1 star clinched a record-equalling seventh world championship this year
- However, there had been concerns over the 35-year-old’s tax status
- The Prime Minister has placed Hamilton on the ‘Diplomatic and Overseas List’
Lewis Hamilton will be knighted after Boris Johnson bypassed concerns over the world champion’s tax status by placing him on the ‘Diplomatic and Overseas List’.
It is understood that no previous British sporting figure has been accommodated in this controversial way — a measure of the Prime Minister’s desire to see Hamilton recognised in the New Year Honours on Thursday after the Mercedes star won his seventh Formula One title in November.
The 35-year-old was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire and grew up on a council estate before becoming grand prix racing’s first black driver. He has spent this year campaigning for greater diversity in his sport.
Lewis Hamilton will be knighted after the racing star’s tax status concerns were bypassed
The Briton notched a record-equalling seventh world title in another dominant season in F1
Hamilton, who is worth more than £250million, has lived in tax exile in Monaco for a decade, having first moved from the UK to Switzerland after completing his debut season in 2007.
Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Hain, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Formula One, has twice written to Downing Street with evidence that Hamilton is among the top 5,000 UK taxpayers.
But the sport honours committee did not believe this clinched the argument because Hamilton’s Monaco residency meant HMRC could not adequately vet his tax affairs — a prerequisite for all domestic awards.
The 35-year-old driver has also been vocal in leading the sport’s stance against racism
There had been concerns over Hamilton’s tax status but Boris Johnson has bypassed those queries by placing the Brit on the ‘Diplomatic and Overseas List’
The Prime Minister has since sidestepped this concern by using the ‘Overseas’ designation that ‘recognises people who have given exceptional service to the UK abroad and internationally’.
Hamilton, who was awarded the MBE in 2008 after his first world title, will become the fourth F1 driver to be knighted, following Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton won BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time last weekend.
A source close to the Government told Sportsmail: ‘Boris made it clear he wanted Lewis knighted so everyone was backed into a corner.’
Hamilton’s push for greater diversity within F1 is coupled with his outspoken support for the Black Lives Matter movement this year. His Mercedes team also ditched their famous silver colours to adopt a black livery for the 2020 campaign in a stand against discrimination.
He has credited BLM with helping drive him on to clinch a record-equalling seventh F1 title last season.
During many race events last season, Hamilton was seen taking the knee on the winner’s podium in protest against the killing of George Floyd while he wore many T-shirts and masks with anti-racism slogans on them.
Hamilton, who was a guest editor for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Boxing Day, said: ‘I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races.
‘It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past.
‘To get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform [for Black Lives Matter] and shine the light as bright as possible.’
His stance has caused some controversy, however.
Critics have claimed BLM has been ‘hijacked’ by groups harbouring far-left political views, including wanting to ‘abolish’ both capitalism and the police.
After winning the Tuscany Grand Prix in September, Hamilton also escaped punishment for carrying a slogan on his T-shirt reading: ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,’ in reference to the black woman who was killed by police in Kentucky in March.
When asked by Professor David Olusoga whether he was afraid of how people would react to his public stand in support of BLM, Hamilton replied: ‘There is no way that I could stay silent.
‘And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear.’