The Jimmy Carr witchhunt should end

The comedian acted within the law.

Jimmy Carr has done the politic thing by tweeting about his tax avoidance, "I now realise I've made a terrible error of judgement," but it's a sad outcome to a witchhunt. There is nothing illegal about what he has done and he should not have been forced by the prime minister and a press pack of hounds into apologising.

This is not a defence of tax avoidance: as a moral issue, I feel that people should not take excessive measures to avoid tax, even though as editor of Spear's, a magazine for high net worths, many of my readers pay clever lawyers and accountants to do just that.

However, if we start calling people who obey the law "morally repugnant", we are in danger of undermining one of Britain's great strengths and sources of international renown, the rule of law. If judges have to hand down rulings on the basis of morality - or worse, what the prime minister thinks - then we will have done great damage.

People cannot arrange their affairs - whether for great fortunes or small businesses - fearing that the law may be retrospectively changed to make legal manoeuvres illegal, indeed not even illegal but "immoral".

A clampdown on tax avoidance is under way. The government will introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Rule which makes the spirit of the law, not its letter, the measure, and this will end once and for all the more outlandish schemes we have seen, such as K2 and Eclipse 35.

But until that point, abusing those who operate within the law, humiliating them, dragging their personal affairs into the public eye - none of these things is acceptable.

Jimmy Carr, Photograph: Getty Images

Josh Spero is the editor of Spear's magazine.

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This is a refugee crisis, and it has always been a refugee crisis

If your country is in flames and your life is at risk, boarding a rickety, dangerous boat is a rational decision. We need to provide safer choices and better routes.

Even those of us all too familiar with the human cost of the present refugee crisis were stopped in our tracks by the profoundly disturbing images of the dead toddler washed up on a Turkish beach. Whatever our personal view about the ethics of displaying the photographs, one thing is clear: the refugee crisis on our doorstep can no longer be denied or ignored.

For far too long the political conversation in the UK has avoided facing up to the obvious conclusion that the UK must provide protection to more refugees in this country. Ministers have responded to calls to do more by talking about the aid we are providing to help refugees in the region, by blaming other European Governments who are hosting more refugees than we are, and also accusing refugees themselves by claiming the desperate people forced into boarding unsafe boats in the Mediterranean were chancers and adventurers, out for an easier life.

These latest images have blown all that away and revealed the shaming truth. This is a refugee crisis and has always been a refugee crisis. When the Refugee Council wrote to the prime minister in 2013 to call for the UK to lead on resettling Syrian refugees displaced by a war that was already two years old, it was a refugee crisis in the making.

Many people struggle to comprehend why refugees would pay smugglers large sums of money to be piled into a rickety boat in the hope of reaching the shores in Europe. The simple answer is that for these individuals, there is no other choice. If your country is in flames and your life is at risk, boarding that boat is a rational decision. There has been much vitriol aimed at smugglers who are trading in human misery, but European governments could put them out of business if they created alternative, legal routes for refugees to reach our shores.

There are clear steps that European governments, including our own, can take to help prevent people having to risk their lives. We need to offer more resettlement places so that people can be brought directly to countries of safety. We also need to make it easier for refugees to reunite with their relatives already living in safety in the UK. Under current rules, refugees are only allowed to bring their husband or wife and dependant children under the age of 18. Those that do qualify for family reunion often face long delays living apart, with usually the women and children surviving in desperate conditions while they wait for a decision on their application. Sometimes they are refused because they cannot provide the right documentation. If you had bombs raining down on your house, would you think to pick up your marriage certificate?

The time to act is well overdue, but the tide of public opinion seems to be turning – especially since the release of the photographs. We urgently need David Cameron to show political leadership and help us live up to the proud tradition of protecting refugees that he often refers to. That tradition is meaningless if people cannot reach us, if they are dying in the attempt. It is a shame that it had to take such a tragic image to shake people into calling for action, but for many it means that the crisis is no longer out of sight and out of mind.

Maurice Wren is the chief executive of the Refugee Council