Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker says he will not be 'bullied' by the Daily Mail after the paper accused him of tax avoidance. Getty

Gary Lineker has said he will not be "bullied" by the Daily Mail after the newspaper accused him of tax avoidance in a highly critical piece.

The right-wing newspaper, which brands itself as anti-establishment, questioned whether the former England football star was a "hypocrite" by advocating liberal causes, while taking part in tax avoidance schemes.

In the piece, which was published Thursday (9 February), the Daily Mail revealed Lineker's ties to Ingenious Media, a film firm that has become synonymous with abusing the tax code.

Striking back, the former England captain maintained his innocence and said the paper was continuing its attack on him for speaking out about issues such as the refugee crisis.

In a series of tweets, Lineker said: "I have always paid my taxes on time and in full.

"The Daily Mail continues its vendetta against me because they don't agree with my views. I will continue to speak up for refugees and immigrants and British values of tolerance and free speech. I won't be bullied by them."

He also pointed out a report in which it states that Wikipedia has banned using the Daily Mail as a source for its encyclopaedia entries in all but exceptional cases.

Some outlets such as the Guardian have defended Lineker since the Daily Mail's piece, but failed to mention his links to Ingenious Media, which are publicly available in Companies House records.

The company was set up in response to a new law introduced in the UK to give tax breaks to firms investing in British films in a bid to stimulate the industry.

Movies such as Life of Pi and Avatar have benefited from the tax break, but Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said the schemes were being abused to avoid tax.

Over £75bn is said to have been invested by celebrities trying to avoid tax and the loophole has now been outlawed. HMRC is now trying to reclaim taxes where the tax break was inappropriately abused.

England football stars Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and former manager Roy Hodgson are some of the footballing names that have been linked to the scheme. Other celebrities involved include musician Bob Geldof and TV stars Davina McCall and Ant and Dec, the news report adds.