SIR Richard Branson has insisted he has not left Britain for tax reasons, saying he is living on his holiday island of Necker in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) because he loves the place.

He commented on the issue on his blog after a newspaper said his decision to leave Britain was a turnaround for the charismatic entrepreneur, who has draped himself in the Union flag to promote his business.

Sir Richard's spokesman said he had been there for seven years and stressed it made no difference for tax purposes whether he was in the UK or the BVI. In his blog Sir Richard said: "I have not left Britain for tax reasons, but for my love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island.

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"Seven years ago we decided to move permanently to Necker as we feel it gives me and my wife Joan the best chance to live another productive few decades.

"We can also look after our health (Joan is approaching seventy and I'm not far behind).

"I still work day and night, now focusing on not-for-profit ventures, but on Necker I can also look after my health.

He added: "I have been very fortunate to accumulate so much wealth in my career, more than I need in my lifetime and would not live somewhere I don't want to for tax reasons.

"In addition to the work I do from Necker, I also travel the world sharing what I've learned."