Tax means tears for Portsmouth's last onion seller in 1992

One of Britain’s last Onion Johnnies may have been forced to load up his bicycle and head back across the Channel after more than 20 years in Portsmouth.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:15 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:15 pm
Jean-Claude Rivoallon with his wares.
Jean-Claude Rivoallon with his wares.

Frenchman Jean-Claude Rivollan, 45, said he would be heartbroken to leave his adopted country but claimed he was being chased away by the taxman.

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Jean-Claude’s idyllic world of peddling onions was shattered when he received a demand for more than £15,000 in unpaid taxes.

His girlfriend, Jane Houston, said she found the bill in the bin where Jean-Claude had thrown it in disgust. She explained: ‘Jean-Claude insists George V was rescued off the Brittany coast and was so grateful he declared that Onion Johnnies would never pay English taxes. This is why he does not want to pay.’

Jean-Claude, of Southsea, was called before the tax commissioners to pay his 16-year debt but told them he would start paying taxes when the Queen did. He did pay the £15,000-bill through savings and borrowing. Jean-Claude said: ‘I love it here. But times are hard and I cannot afford these taxes. It will break my heart to go.’