ALL advance tickets have been snapped up for talk by a celebrated academic who believes that the inequality symbolised by bankers’ bonuses is at the root of almost every social problem.

Professor Richard Wilkinson, of Colton, near Tadcaster, who has travelled around the world speaking about his theory, is due to deliver his talk Inequality: The Enemy Between Us’to a sell-out audience at Clements Hall in South Bank tomorrow.

The academic suggests that the greater the gap between the rich and poor in a developed society, the worse off its people are overall.

Countries with higher levels of inequality, such as the USA, Britain and Portugal, suffer from a higher level of social problems including teenage pregnancy, crime rates, drug addiction, reduced life expectancy, mental illness and obesity, which has a negative impact on everyone within society, irrespective of wealth.

Countries without such a significant gap between rich and poor, such as Japan, Norway and Sweden, have lower rates of such social problems.

Speaking about bankers’ bonuses, Prof Wilkinson said: “The reason why we have become so unequal is those at the top have run away from the rest of us. It’s the rich running ahead and I think it has to be stopped. We have to deal with tax evasion. We also have to have employee representatives on company boards, as happens in most of Europe.

“The bonus culture is a reflection of a complete lack of democracy. These people feel they can do what they like and we must make them accountable.”

He said the difference between the lowest and highest paid people working for companies in the FTSE 100 differed as much as 300-to-one whereas in the public sector it was not more than 20-to- one. The retired professor, who currently has a visiting professorship at the University of York, is the co-author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, along with Professor Kate Pickett, also of the University of York.

They have spoken around the world to audiences including religious groups, Government groups and charities.

Doors at Clement Hall open at 7.30pm tomorrow. All the advance tickets have been taken but a very small number of tickets is expected to be available on the door.