Hartnett gets golden handshake from tax activists | AccountingWEB

Hartnett gets golden handshake from tax activists

Dave Hartnett, the former permanent secretary for tax at HMRC, was honoured “for services to tax avoidance” by tax protesters at the Practical Tax Planning conference in Oxford last week.


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nogammonsinanundoubledgame's picture

The final sentence is ...

nogammonsinanun... | | Permalink

... to me both illuminating in some respects and opaque in others.  If the NAO says that what he did was kosher, then who am I, in the absence of all of the facts, to condemn him?  The NAO has a history, after all, of being less than sympathetic to HMRC in the round.

What would interest me is if all of the evidence on which the NAO came to its conclusion is in the public domain (I suspect not), or whether it might be made public in a few decades.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

Next week .......    4 thanks

Midlands Accountancy | | Permalink
  • Tony Blair receives an award for his outstanding contribution to peace in the middle east.
  • Gordon Brown receives an award for services to covert tape recording,
  • The entire population of Greece receive an award for services to the euro.
  • Gordon Ramsay receives an award for services to the F***ing  english language.
  • The England football team receive an award for outstanding comedy moment by claiming they could win the world cup.



@Clint Try a freedom of

uktaxpal | | Permalink

@Clint Try a freedom of information request

Giles M's picture

Sadly, we will not now find

Giles M | | Permalink

Sadly, we will not now find out what Mr Hartnett thinks.

Having agreed in principle to an interview with me for TAXtv discussing the highs and lows of his Revenue career, he has now withdrawn from all such media work because of continued 'stunts'.

ShirleyM's picture

Excuse?    2 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Why wouldn't he give an explanation? By going into hiding he enforces the view that he has something to hide.

The public are concerned that large corporations appear to be getting very favourable deals from someone who is regularly wined & dined by these same corporations. 

It isn't unreasonable of the public to want explanations rather than cut & dried verdicts.

nogammonsinanundoubledgame's picture


nogammonsinanun... | | Permalink

I would expect an application under FOI to be rejected due to DPA protections.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

Reasonable does not always mean kosher

The Limey | | Permalink

nogammonsinanundoubledgame wrote:

If the NAO says that what he did was kosher, then who am I, in the absence of all of the facts, to condemn him?  The NAO has a history, after all, of being less than sympathetic to HMRC in the round.

The NAO did not say that what he did was kosher, and in fact said that HMRC's litigation strategy policy was either not followed or "it was not clear that it was followed". The judge did say that he thought that the settlements HMRC had reached were reasonable, given the wider uncertainties, other disputes with the same taxpayer, and what HMRC had agreed to in other similar cases. They are different things.

@Clint Dont pre-judge.I

uktaxpal | | Permalink

@Clint Dont pre-judge.I personally think a FOI request would be successful as its the sort of information that should be in the public domain after all its a public body.Give  it a go and appeal if not successful.Be an optomist.

ShirleyM's picture

Cost?    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

I got the impression (rightly or wrongly) that the NAO implied that the agreement was acceptable because the costs of pursuing the penalties/interest would have outweighed the benefits to the taxpayer. This is quite different to saying everything these corporations, and Hartnett, did was kosher.

I admit I am biased, but isn't this always the result of aggressive avoidance by large corporations and wealthy individuals. Whether the taxpayer wins or loses it ends up costing the country vast amounts of money, either in lost revenue, or investigation/litigation costs.

Henry Kissinger's beaten you to it

Siilycountry | | Permalink

When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, Tom Lehrer was moved to remark that it was the day that satire died.

nogammonsinanundoubledgame's picture

Well, if ...    1 thanks

nogammonsinanun... | | Permalink

... a proper cost/benefit analysis accurately concluded that the cost to the taxpayer in pursuing a debt (multiplied by the probably of ultimate success etc) would outweigh the debt being pursued, and if that was the sole or main reason for the deal that was done, then it seems to me that that is no indictment of Hartnett.  It might be an indictment of someone else (or some other body); just not Hartnett.

Somehow I would take some persuading that this type of calculation stacks up where the write-off of Vodafone's bill was about £5 bn, but I keep an open mind.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

Mark Three's picture

Tony Blair said he regretted..    2 thanks

Mark Three | | Permalink

the Freedom of Information Act - which just about says it all.  People do need to be called to account for their actions and this is sometimes through FOI.

The thought and knowledge that what you do in secret can be made public can and should have a positive effect on your actions.

Personally I thought the 'stunt' was brilliant.  There are so few ways of effectively dealing with the 'big boys' (as noted above with cost/benefit, NAO et al)  but comedy and stunts like these do help to change public policy and the actions of individuals.  

Alastair Johnston's picture

Scum? It could have been worse.

Alastair Johnston | | Permalink

"A dinner guest, believed to be a senior tax lawyer, called the protesters "trespassing scum" and told them to leave "before we set the dogs on you"."


Just as well they were at Oxford.  Imagine what he would have done if they had been plebs!