The McLaren Formula One team has been able to claim that a £32m penalty for spying on rival Ferrari was tax deductible.
The Woking-based group successfully argued at a tax tribunal [McLaren Racing Ltd v Revenue & Customs UKFTT 601] that the 2007 fine handed down by governing body FIA was essentially a business expense.
Judge Charles Hellier’s casting vote ruled it was “wholly and exclusively” incurred for the purposes of its trade, quashing HMRC’s argument that a penalty penalising activity that violated someone else’s civil rights should not be considered such.
Julian Hedley from Saffery Champness said on the Today programme that it was an unusual decision, but that “It was a commercial penalty designed to affect McLaren and its commercial activities and trade.
“It was decided on the basis that it wasn’t a statutory fine if you like for breaking the law, but was actually a penalty that was incurred under the rules governing McLaren’s participation in F1,” he said.