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HMRC chief exec knighted in New Year honours

3rd Jan 2019
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The UK’s top tax official leads the list of accounting and tax luminaries in the New Year honours list, receiving a knighthood for his civil service work. 

Jon Thompson is now a knight. HMRC’s avuncular chief exec received this honour for “public service”. Thompson took charge of HMRC in 2016 and like many of his predecessors his tenure has been turbulent.

The tax department’s quality of service has been derided on AccountingWEB as it buckled under cuts and staff shortages. Last year’s annual report indicated that HMRC failed to answer 4m calls, prompting one AccountingWEB columnist to ask: “Is HMRC fit for purpose?”

Another controversy rumbling in the background of Thompson’s reign is the loan charge. Although it was introduced before he became chief exec, Thompson’s HMRC has remained unmoved about how the controversial tax charge will affect ordinary taxpayers.

The harshness of the loan charge has been contrasted with what some see as a lighter touch reserved for foreign digital businesses, specifically Amazon and Facebook. Amazon UK paid just £4.5m in corporation tax last year – even though it generated British sales of £9bn, while Facebook paid £15.8m in tax, despite recording record UK revenues of £1.3bn.

The newly minted Sir Jon now faces the formidable task of shepherding HMRC through the oft delayed MTD and, of course, Brexit.

Joining Thompson on the honours list is a who’s who of accounting and financial luminaries. Bolstering HMRC’s representation on the list is Gillian Aitken, HMRC and HM Treasury’s former general counsel. Aitken left the role last year to become registrar at Oxford University. She receives a CBE.

Another prominent HMRC name is that of Patrick Mears, chair of the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) Advisory Panel. He receives an OBE for “services to preventing abusive tax avoidance”.

Here are the rest of the profession’s honorees

  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia FCA, former chief executive of Virgin. She becomes a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire for her work in the financial services industry.
  • Rodney Norman FCA, former FD of National Savings and Investments and treasury accountant at the Treasury. Receives a CBE for his services to taxpayers.
  • Anne Obey FCA, director of financial reporting, Nationwide Building Society. Receives CBE for services to financial reporting and sustainable energy.
  • Moira Tracey. The exchequer forecast manager at HM Treasury. Receives MBE for public and voluntary service and services to the Exchequer.
  • John Bennett FCA. MBE for services to the City of London and education
  • James Cooper FCA. Receives OBE for voluntary political service in the Midlands
  • Jo Hunter ACA. Receives OBE for her work as honorary treasurer and co-founder of a women’s charity.
  • Karen Anne Cobb. A regional operational leader at HMRC. Receives OBE for services to taxpayers.
  • Pauline Chelford. HMRC’s deputy director large business. Receives OBE for services to Improving UK customs capability.
  • Bhagvati Parmar. HMRC’s migration planning coordinator. Receives OBE for charitable services.
  • Gad Kuju. Customs and indirect tax officer at HMRC. Receives OBE for services to diversity and to multiculturalism and to Africa Oyé (an annual African music event).
  • Heidi Marie Kirkby. HMRC’s wellbeing coordinator. Receives OBE for services to mental health.
  • Ian Marshall FCA. OBE for services to business, charity and health.
  • Roger Pashley FCA. Receives Order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to the community.
  • Christoper Trye FCA. Receives Order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to the church and to charity.

We haven’t heard from all the professional bodies yet, so let us know if we’ve missed any accountants from our list.


    Replies (17)

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    By Tornado
    03rd Jan 2019 16:35

    They missed me!

    Outstanding services to Taxpayers over 47 years.

    (Oh, of course I am not a Civil Servant, just a hard working Accountant).

    Thanks (7)
    By Michael C Feltham
    04th Jan 2019 11:16

    Wholly risible. He joins the illustrious ranks of such as:

    Theresa Middleton; Ruth Stanier; Dame (No less!) Lin Homer who failed dismally as the Chief Executive of the failed and dysfunctional new Border and Immigration Agency and, as we know increased the "Massive Failures" section of her C.V. at HMRC.


    Perhaps what is needed is to ask ICAEW for a full list of their Disciplinary Hearings and then all of us nominate the most flagrant and abject failures of members for Peerages.

    Since, failure is the main component of receiving an honour, today it seems.

    Thanks (3)
    Replying to Michael C Feltham:
    By Paul Cleverley
    04th Jan 2019 13:18

    He joins a truly respectable club, just think Jimmy Saville.

    Thanks (0)
    By G Webber CTA
    04th Jan 2019 11:20

    I will confess first and foremost to not being a supporter of the Honours system as all. It surely has no place in a modern world and has been debased by being used to "reward" often undeserving people in underhand ways.

    This view is now thoroughly entrenched by the award to Jon Thompson.

    Services to taxpayer? If by that we mean using retrospection - without remorse or empathy - to rob pension plans, force the sale of homes, bring about divorce and family breakdown, make people ill - and worse - then the award is well deserved.

    HMRC is unfit for purpose. It is unaccountable, able to brief MPs in misleading and illegal ways, has ignored requests from Parliament for clear and accurate information and is driven by an internally bullying culture that would be rightly condemned in a private company.

    They consider themselves to be untouchable, are arrogant, inflexible and unsympathetic. They boast of an "outstanding record" in "helping" taxpayers. NO. We can produce dozens and dozens of instances where taxpayers have been treated as nothing more than cash cows to be milked with little or no concern for their welfare.

    Even when we discover and point out errors, often doing so several times before traction is achieved, no apology, no contrition, no acknowledgement.

    It is a testament to the fear engendered in front line HMRC staff by their "superiors" that all of this is fielded with some embarrassment by those answering the phone (sometimes) but with an admission that they are powerless and can say nothing unless they wish to risk their career.

    If the award was for creating an organisation with no empathy, a predilection for manipulating statistics to suit, a policy of ignoring inconvenient Judicial decisions and one in which staff are relentlessly bullied and discriminated against, then arise Sir Jon.


    Thanks (8)
    Replying to G Webber CTA:
    By Tornado
    04th Jan 2019 12:35

    I wish I had written this.

    The bit that really gets me is that HMRC deal with complaints themselves and it is a very long and complex process to obtain a truly independent review. Whilst telling us that they take complaints very seriously, in my experience, they rally around and protect each other.

    Too much power is the problem.

    Thanks (1)
    Replying to G Webber CTA:
    By Stevep42
    04th Jan 2019 17:06

    I'm sure this 'award' was decided well before the House of Lords Enquiry was published and the reports into HMRC staffing issues were put into the public domain.

    As JT thinks retrospective law is acceptable, he wont mind if the committee retrospectively take his gong away. This is a reward for utter failure.

    Thanks (2)
    By G Webber CTA
    04th Jan 2019 11:23

    As for Patrick Mears - the "independent" head of GAAR Panel - described in the Honours list as an external HMRC consultant - accepting such an award surely reduces the integrity of any decision from that Panel by at least 50%.

    Thanks (1)
    By Nick Graves
    04th Jan 2019 11:39

    Typo: it's spelled 'Cur', not 'Sir'.

    Same way OBE came to mean, 'other buggers' efforts'.

    Even HMRC stands for something different from its original meaning, these days.

    Thanks (4)
    By GoGoCantina86
    04th Jan 2019 11:47

    Ariana Grande was offered a dame hood, which is another example of the government wanting to associate themselves with something cool, yet again diminishing the value of these types of awards.

    In regards to Jon Thomson, he has persistently lied and obfuscated in regards to the Loan Charge (schemes were illegal, never worked, we have gone after the employers).

    Being rewarded for lying to the government and the House of Lords seems wrong.

    Being rewarded for breaching human rights by introducing retrospective taxation for what was a legal umbrella scheme (at the time) seems wrong.

    Being rewarded for charging IHT on a loan they now claim is not a loan is wrong too.

    The whole thing is just wrong and makes me very sad and I have lost complete faith in our government and cannot believe I am saying this but have started to think like a Leftie, i.e. Elite looking after themselves.

    Thanks (6)
    Replying to GoGoCantina86:
    By Southwestbeancounter
    04th Jan 2019 13:37

    Yes I quite agree. The Ariana Grande dame hood thing was probably like you say the Government wanting to look cool rather than anything else. She turned it down in any event but for a young performer to deal with the situation she found herself catapulted into like she did and turn it around to raise money for the survivors and their families etc should still be commended.

    Thanks (1)
    Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
    By Michael C Feltham
    04th Jan 2019 19:29


    Thanks (0)
    By vinylnobbynobbs
    04th Jan 2019 15:25

    They do say that you rise to the level of your own incompetence!

    Thanks (0)
    By Mr J Andrews
    04th Jan 2019 15:32

    Is Jon Thompson taking one for the team perhaps ?
    The service has become so bastardised , some poor tax official should be rewarded for putting up with working in such a deplorable soul destroying environment.
    Or will Sir Jon hog the gong ?

    Thanks (0)
    By DotasScandalDotOrg
    05th Jan 2019 10:55

    Read here for a VERY interesting look into the wonderful, inclusive culture Jon has fostered at his organisation.
    Well worth a knighthood!

    Thanks (0)
    By James Blair
    05th Jan 2019 15:22

    John Thompson has singularly failed to meet the requirements for receiving an honour, government guidance states

    "They’ll usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.".

    John Thompson has singularily failed to 'make life better' for the 100k people (plus families) facing devastating consequences of unjust 2019 Loan Charge which is intended to cover up HMRC incompetence over decades in not closing down Loan Scheme Arrangements (LSA). Practically everyone agrees that thia RETROSPECTIVE tax going back 20 years is immoral, 111 MP's (and rising) have signed EDM 1239, The Lords Economic Sin committee condemned it as do many, many tax experts.

    This knighthood needs to be stripped from JT and I urge all those who agree to email [email protected] to demand this man who has caused so much damage to people's lives is not honoured!

    Thanks (0)
    By Briar
    05th Jan 2019 16:12

    Near the end of the list: "Heidi Marie Kirkby. HMRC’s wellbeing coordinator. Receives OBE for services to mental health.". What the hell is a wellbeing coordinator? Why do HMRC need one? She has not made me or my clients happy about the levels of tax we pay or the troubles we have calculating it. Or, is she supposed to make HMRC staff happy? I have not met one recently.

    Thanks (0)
    Chris M
    By mr. mischief
    06th Jan 2019 17:50

    Arise Sir Numpty. Please see His Arseholiness the ArseTwitchUp of Canterbury for your suitable inauguration rite.

    We should scrap the whole thing, way too many fail the smell test big time.

    Thanks (1)