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Accountant Graham Wildin jailed for contempt of court
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Rogue accountant swaps ‘man cave’ for jail

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Accountancy’s favourite pantomime villain is behind bars this week after being jailed for six weeks for contempt of court.

18th Aug 2022
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Tax adviser and accountant Graham Wildin was jailed for six weeks last Friday at a hearing in Cardiff after he had defied the court’s order to demolish a leisure complex he had constructed in his backyard without planning permission.

In July last year, the High Court convicted Wildin of contempt and sentenced him to six weeks in prison, suspended on condition that he tear down his complex within 18 weeks. 

Wildin is no stranger to the court system, having fought his way to prison in a four-year planning dispute with Forest of Dean council over his personal grand project, now immortalised in the media as “Britain’s biggest man cave”.

Even before he embarked on that misadventure, Wildin featured in tax tribunals going back as far as a frequently cited, but ambiguous 1988 case on settlements. He shows up in five other tribunal decisions published since then in which he appeared as the appellant or an adviser. As with his latest encounter with the planning laws, Wildin’s pugnacious approach to litigation has not always borne fruit.

Deliberate errors

The last time we heard about Wildin was three months ago after he lost his appeal to the first tier tribunal over tax penalties arising from deliberate errors in capital allowances claims on his tax returns and input VAT claims on the back-garden pleasure dome. Based on press interviews in which he said the structure was only for private use, HMRC disallowed his claims and sought punitive penalties.

We have AccountingWEB member AndrewTall to thank for digging out some of the judges’ more pungent conclusions: “We find the appellant to be shrewd and methodical in his consistent efforts in rendering returns that contained the errors with the set purpose of obtaining a fiscal advantage over a protracted period,” they wrote.

“The appellant is an experienced accountant and with his tax knowledge, he has acted consciously in a considered way when he submitted those returns to claim the reliefs for income tax and VAT which are not due.”

The assessments for “deliberate” error penalties were upheld. Proceedings in the hearing were held up by a preliminary legal skirmish after Wildin alleged the defence solicitor had made false statements in a separate case. The allegations were disproven.

Wildin’s tribunal appearances make for intriguing Friday afternoon CPD reading and the associated media coverage has provided plenty of grounds for debate among AccountingWEB members in recent years.

Error of his ways

Meanwhile, Wildin has another few weeks behind bars to ponder the error of his ways and consider plans for demolishing the infamous leisure complex, which is still standing in his back garden in Cinderford, Gloucestershire. 

But will this be the end of the story? After incurring penalties for deliberate tax errors and being convicted by a criminal court for contempt, Wildin’s continuing status as a chartered accountant is also open to question – though his firm can still be found on the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales directory.

In his report on the penalty case, Rickie Lowery added a note of suspense: “While the £297,630.65 of tax and penalties Wildin has to pay are substantial, I suspect these will be dwarfed by the costs he incurred constructing and then tearing down the building. Assuming he eventually does complete the second obligation.”

Stay tuned to AccountingWEB: we are sure there are more episodes to come in this long-running courtroom drama.

Replies (12)

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By Justin Bryant
19th Aug 2022 09:59

I'm always impressed how people like this and Donald Trump have the time & energy on top of their presumably very busy and tiring day jobs for all this seemingly constant, endless litigation (and/or them having to constantly defend themselves being prosecuted for one thing or another).

A good rest from all that in prison is well-deserved and hopefully for DT too soon.

BTW, a very well written piece above.

Thanks (9)
Replying to Justin Bryant:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
19th Aug 2022 12:36

Thank you Justin - even grizzled old hacks like a pat on the back sometimes.

As a fellow student of Mr Wildin's past, you'll probably remember that the Trump comparison actually turned up in the judge's decision in the penalties case - I noticed it in the "Bizarre case" Any Answers thread and was sorely tempted to include it.

There's so much material available on this subject that I couldn't fit it all in - so thank you for reminding us all of the Trump allusion.

Thanks (5)
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By tom123
19th Aug 2022 09:37

I am embarrassed to share a county with this crook!

Mind you, almost makes accountancy interesting - in a Daily Mail kind of way..

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By Duggimon
19th Aug 2022 09:39

As an Institute member (though of the more venerable Scottish variety) I really think a conviction for deliberate errors of this magnitude ought to result in automatic expulsion.

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By mkowl
19th Aug 2022 09:42

With this calibre of accountancy he should be running KPMG

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By Paul Crowley
19th Aug 2022 10:07

Where is ICAEW in this?
It is now too late for him to resign surely

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Hugo Fair
19th Aug 2022 11:36

We've certainly moved on from the days when you simply informed him that "the game is up" and waited outside for the inevitable sound of a pistol shot.
Whether what we now have is an improvement is a different/interesting discussion.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By paul.benny
20th Aug 2022 11:36

Disciplinary processes are usually last in sequence behind criminal and regulatory processes- a misconduct finding would probably be deemed to be prejudicial to other actions. It makes professional bodies look slow, but I see no fair alternative.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By hfiddes
22nd Aug 2022 16:17

It is such as terrible look for the profession that perhaps ICAEW should revise its process to accommodate serial disreputable behaviour. This guy seems to have skimmed safely over regulatory waters because he was well into the next court case by the time his actions from the last one were known. Of course stones tend to sink in the end...

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Caroline
By accountantccole
19th Aug 2022 12:27

On the upside, reading this article helped me get an extra question right on the BBC weekly news quiz

Thanks (7)
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By JessicaRain
20th Aug 2022 12:42

That he is still a member of ICAEW screams of some sort of ridiculous priviledge.

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By AndrewV12
02nd Sep 2022 10:39

"Tax adviser and accountant Graham Wildin"

Why are these clowns known as Tax advisers and Accountants, their simply chancers.

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