HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Hartnett Broke The Prime Directive


As loyal readers are aware Hartnett has hit the headlines again, the Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that HMRC unlawfully disclosed confidential information to journalists about financial advisors Ingenious Media, known for promoting film investment schemes.

Hartnett gave journalists from The Times an "off the record" briefing in 2012.


Economia reports that during the course of the briefing, agreed to be “off the record”, the journalists instigated a conversation with Hartnett about Ingenious, its CEO Patrick McKenna about a film investment scheme. Some of the information was used in a later Times story.

A 2013 High Court judgment struck out Ingenious' breach of confidentiality claim against HMRC on the basis that the briefing was off the record. Ingenious also lost an appeal in 2015.

The highest court in the land, however, ruled that HMRC had breached its duty of confidentiality.

Lord Toulson, the Supreme Court justice, said in his ruling, “The information supplied by Mr Hartnett to the journalists about Mr McKenna and Ingenious Media was confidential in nature, in respect of which HMRC owed a duty of confidentiality.”

“The fact that Mr Hartnett did not anticipate his comments being reported is not a justification for making them. The desire to foster good relations with the media and to publicise HMRC’s view about tax avoidance schemes and speculation that the journalists may have subsequently informed Mr Hartnett about other tax avoidance schemes do not provide sufficient justification for the disclosures either.”

Ingenious has been awarded costs and is now considering whether to seek compensation.


As some of you have also observed, this breach of taxpayer confidentiality strikes at the very core of HMRC's "prime directive" of confidentiality.

As per Lord Toulson:
The whole idea of HMRC officials supplying confidential information about individuals to the media on a non-attributable basis is, or should be, a matter of serious concern.
Will Hartnett and those others responsible be prosecuted for this?


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20 comments:

  1. Makes you wonder how they got away with the "off the record" excuse to start with, it was making it up as they went along stuff. The law is quite clear. We are all equal before the law. 'Due process' is surely underway? That would be a robust independent investigation and if the evidence of wrongdoing is confirmed, a prosecution must be brought against HMRC and the individuals. Anything less and it will look like a cover-up putting HMRC above the law.

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  2. And look what Hartnett did to Osita Mba in retribution for whistleblowing! A nasty man who authorised the use of anti terror legislation on someone who told the truth. He enjoyed being wined and dined for favours but who is clearly not very bright.

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    1. A buffoon no less.
      It looks as though the High Court report carries a clear indication of a prime face case of criminal lawbreaking wrt to disclosure of taxpayer confidential information. The fact that such information was held out as an inducement towards gaining information against third parties seems pretty close to an official tasking of what would be an informant, but given the HMIC reports on how HMRC deal with Humint should we be surprised?
      Put the old buffer on trial, get Ken Dodd as a character witness along with Osita Mba!

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    2. Is Hartnett a bright man? No, absolutely not. In 2012, when the enquiry into the establishment's relationship with the media was well underway following the phone hacking scandal which broke the year before, he was secretly, and UNLAWFULLY, briefing a newspaper "off the record". The man clearly lacks any awareness, the typical calibre for HMRC senior management.

      As for the disgusting treatment of the heroic Osita Mba and others, Hartnett and some other HMRC senior managers have behaved like nasty thugs.

      The misuse of powers was a total disgrace and those who authorised it should have been investigated for misconduct, as I wonder if it were they who have may have broken the law in the anger and aggression at the embarrassing truth being revealed.

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  3. Did Mr Hartnett not sign the Official Secrets Act, or did that requirement drop by the wayside somewhere along the way?

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  4. Surely its CRCA and not The Official Secrets Act?

    Irrespective, Parliament must ensure a totally independant investigation of HMRC law breaking be undertaken quickly and openly, nothing less will re-establish taxpayer (not customer!) trust and confidence in the UK tax system. Currently it is at an all time low.

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    1. Following the revelation that the UK's top taxman broke the law, which does not say much for HMRC as whole, it would seem that HMRC is in meltdown tonight.

      The independent investigation must be commenced immediately. As HMRC's Executive Chairman Troup said, ending taxpayer confidentiality could result in a loss of revenue. This is therefore an emergency with tax at risk.

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  5. Harnett once said TO MY FACE that whistleblowers "should be jailed".

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    1. Why would Hartnett say that???

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    2. Sounds like the typical HMRC bullying.

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  6. I reported law breaking by managers in LE to him and subsequently Homer. They did not order an investigation despite my requests. I now see why.

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    1. A public office holder breaking the law, as in the case in the media this week for example, COULD commit a common law offence of Misconduct in a Public Office. They could also be in breach of offences defined by statue including the Data Protection Act 1998, Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 and the Official Secrets Act. These are all matters of great concern and potential CRIMINAL offences. To ensure trust & confidence can be maintained in HMRC now and going forward, it will be important that an independent investigation is conducted without undue delay and, where there is evidence, and its in the public interest, to ensure all offenders are prosecuted.

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  7. TAX IS AT RISK following the unlawful disclosure of taxpayer confidential information by HMRC's Dave Hartnett. Edward Troup, HMRC's current Executive Chairman said in 2013 that ending taxpayer confidentiality could result in less revenue. I think Troup is right. So what are he and HMRC going to do to ensure justice is pursued?

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  8. And all throughout the disasters, failures and revelations one person keeps prospering. Melissa Tatton.

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  9. Quelle surprise that the High Court should rule thus, remembering of course that Hartnett was in charge of the former IR Inquiry Branch and took personal charge of the case against Ken Dodd, which failed.
    The rest as they say is history.
    What a disgraceful, shoddy organisation, untrustworthy, arrogant, bullying, inept management and totally bloody useless. what an example to the rest of the world.
    How much longer will this embarrassing comedy be allowed to slither its way across our lives?

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  10. Well the fuss about concentrix made the media yesterday on The Daily Politics Show BBC. Pity they 'missed' a better story for some unfathomable reason, perhaps they dont use news researchers any longer since they respond to the MSM party line?

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    1. I could be wrong but it seems the left wing establishment have made a great fuss about Concentrix (when actually HMRC are to blame) because it suits their ideological anti-private sector position.

      The BBC are one of the largest journalistic organisations in the world, much of their output is admirable and of the highest quality, but I have not been able to find any BBC outlet covering the Ingenious case Supreme Court ruling let alone shining a light on the serious law breaking by a Senior HMRC Official, an organisation which affects the lives of most citizens in the UK, which was identified in the case and I wonder why that might be.

      Unlawful 'Off the record' briefings from HMRC made the mainstream media in 2012 and yet last week's ruling against HMRC, in the public interest about one of the UK's most powerfully unaccountable organisations, seems to have been given minimal coverage by the mainstream. It could make the least cynical people wonder if they're all in it together?

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  11. Double standards methinks.
    But what do you expect?

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    1. It would appear Dave Hartnett broke the Criminal Law in unlawfully disclosing taxpayer information. Are the authorities dealing with the matter?

      Am I right in thinking that if the authorities fail to act of their own accord in such a matter, all it takes if for any member of the public to make a complaint to the Director of Public Prosecutions requesting investigation?

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    2. If HMRC are not taken to task over the unlawful disclosure in the Ingenious case it's going to look like its one rule for powerful Government Officers and another for the average person.

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