The government’s tax inspectors have been accused of “barbarianism” and “wreaking fear and havoc on innocent small businessmen across Britain” by a top financial PR.
Richard Hillgrove, who has represented Dragons Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan, Simon Woodroffe and food chain Little Chef, launched a blistering attack on HMRC as he prepares to fight charges of “cheating the public revenue” at Bristol Crown Court from 1 July.
Hillgrove plans to countersue HMRC and the Crown Prosecution Service for £10m for wrongful arrest and damage to his reputation.
“In efforts to recover £81,000, they have cost the tax payer what will amount to £500,000 in Legal Fees and what will become millions of pounds in damages for Wrongful Arrest and Damaged Reputation”.
He said the HMRC had made a “gargantuan, football stadium-sized error” in arresting him.
“The HMRC and CPS must accept responsibility for their recklessness and needlessly napalming the lives of innocent people.
“The barbarianism of the HMRC in dealing with a simple issue of tax arrears, which merely required a chat, knows no bounds.
“Mistakes are being made. The HMRC are engaged in a ‘Slaughter of the Innocents”.
Hillgrove went on to compare HMRC to the “Four Horsemen in Lord of the Rings”, mixing together the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Nine Ringwraiths from the fantasy book series.
Hillgrove’s case came after he fell into arrears on VAT and PAYE after a client went bust and left him owing around £30,000. Hillgrove says he tried to call a face-to-face meeting with HMRC to resolve the situation but was told that was an “impossible request”, with HMRC later launching a dawn raid on his home on 12 June 2013.
“I have been dumped into the category of drug smugglers or people who shift large quantities of tobbaco or oil and avoid paying VAT.
“It’s easier to get a Dawn Raid from the HMRC than organise a simple meeting to explain a situation which could have been resolved over a simple chat.
“The HMRC’s powers of arrest must be totally called into question as over-enthusiastic HMRC officers see themselves as participating in some sort of Call of Duty video game.
Finally Hillgrove hit out at the HMRC for its behaviour.
“Why on earth [is there]the need for th[is]style [of]behaviour more akin to Nazi Germany when normal small business people are struggling to make ends meet and doing what they can to meet their tax obligations in a bitter, gripping Recession?”
You need to read…
SECURING BRITAIN’S FUTURE
Boris Johnson, Martha Lane Fox, Xavier Rolet, Doug Richard and more than 25 other London leaders share letters on how to safeguard our economy
Our free newsletter