"Good Friends Can Disagree": UK Envoy On Tax Searches At BBC's India Office

'Good friends can also disagree', British High Commissioner Alex Ellis on Wednesday said in response to questions on raids at BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai by the Income Tax department earlier this year. Speaking at the Ananta Centre here, he underlined that he would never share details about his discussions with the Indian authorities.

"The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a globally respected institution and broadcaster whose news material I consume everyday. Secondly, all organisations have to obey the law of India. BBC is talking to Indian authorities about that," Ellis said.

"Certainly, I would never share all the things that I discussed with the Indian authorities. But good friends can also disagree. I think that it is okay to disagree sometimes," the British High Commissioner said, making it clear that he was making a general point.

In February, BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai were raided by Income Tax officials who claimed to have detected multiple irregularities, including non-payment of tax on certain remittances that were not disclosed as income in India.

On the attack on the Indian High Commission in London, Ellis described it a "symptom of extremism" which was a "risk" in any country.

"There is no disagreement. What happened at the Indian High commission is not okay. It is a symptom of extremism. Overall extremism is a risk in any country," he said.

The British High Commissioner further said that he completely understood the anger in India over the vandalism at the High Commission and he would be equally agitated if it happened to the British High Commission.

Pro-Khalistani protestors tried to vandalise the Indian High Commission in London and pulled down the national flag while holding protests outside the High Commission complex on March 19. It happened a day after the Punjab Police launched a crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh in Punjab.

Ellis added that the UK-India relationship is "complex" because of its colonial history and that there will always be "bumps" which were part of the complexity and richness.

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