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Lawyers demand action from HMRC on alleged 'sweetheart' deal

Leigh Day represent NGO UK Uncut Legal Action

Cityscape photo: istock

23 November 2011

Lawyers for UK Uncut Legal Action have written to HMRC today, informing the Department that its ongoing delay in dealing with their claim is unacceptable.

Leigh Day & Co who are acting for UK Uncut Legal Action, an NGO inspired by the anti-cuts direct action group UK Uncut, confirmed in a letter sent in October that if the settlement reached between HMRC and Goldman Sachs, allegedly allowing the company off £10million worth of tax owed, was not quashed it would issue proceedings seeking specific disclosure for all internal documents regarding the process by which agreement was reached.

HMRC has twice requested additional time to respond to this letter. It now states that it cannot respond until 29 November 2011, six weeks after it was first notified about the claim. It states that it needs more time to “continue…enquiries into the issues raised”. The normal time limit in judicial review proceedings is 14 days.

Richard Stein from Leigh Day & Co said:

“We believe that HMRC has had plenty of time to make “enquiries” about the Goldman Sachs deal, particularly given its requirement to give evidence to the Select Committee about the issue. We do not think their ongoing delay is acceptable."

The legal threat comes on the same day that it was announced in The Independent that a senior judge is to be brought in to investigate the alleged tax deals. The judge is expected to be given the power to examine the private accounts of Goldman Sachs and Vodafone to establish whether senior inspectors agreed to these 'sweetheart deals'.

Murray Worthy from UK Uncut Legal Action said:

"HMRC have already stalled our legal challenge by asking for two extensions, and have not yet responded to our letter which urgently asked for more details about this investigation. But the decision to investigate this deal adds weight to our argument that HMRC made unlawful decisions regarding Goldman Sachs' tax owed to the public purse. It is imperative that this investigation is prompt, proper and made public. HMRC must not be allowed to dodge justice, as well as helping Goldman Sachs to dodge tax.

"The public need and deserve to know what happened because, if a dodgy deal was done, the £10 million owed by Goldman Sachs must be reclaimed to help save vital public services being cut by the government."

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