Martin Clunes
Martin Clunes is renowned for his distinctive appearance Getty

Martin Clunes is taking on the taxman after undergoing secret cosmetic surgery.

The British actor, who is renowned for his distinctive appearance, has asked for the cost of the surgery to be off-set against his income tax, claiming it is a legitimate professional expense "since it is for the purposes of his acting trade".

The Men Behaving Badly star asked a tax tribunal judge to grant him anonymity to spare him from the public embarrassment that might follow as a result of his revelations that he has gone under the knife.

While he has not disclosed the nature of the cosmetic procedure, he expressed his fears that he might "become the target of mockery and jokes" if his identity were revealed.

He argued that "fans like to retain a certain image of the actors and others they admire" and, likening his position to that of a magician who doesn't want to reveal his tricks, he explained that he had a "legitimate interest" in maintaining his image.

However, lawyers for HMRC argued that Clunes should be subject to the same treatment as ordinary taxpayers who were not in the public eye and would have no hope of appealing a decision anonymously.

Judge Colin Bishopp denied the appeal, stating that it would be necessary to identify the Men Behaving Badly actor so that the case could be properly understood by the public.

The tribunal will determine whether the treatment was necessary or a "a vain indulgence". The nature of the treatment is not known, but the judge added that it was "not mundane and unlikely to attract attention".

The full appeal will be heard on a date as yet unknown, the Telegraph reported.