UKuncut to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal


by Sunny Hundal    
4:53 pm - October 28th 2011

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The direct action group UKuncut is launching legal action against the HMRC over its “sweetheart” tax deal” with the investment bank giant, Goldman Sachs.

UKuncut Legal Action, a spin-off operation, will initially focus on the case of Goldman Sachs being let off £10m in interest payments by the HMRC.

Details of the case were first leaked to the Guardian earlier this month, and have been frequently mentioned in Private Eye.

As Liberal Conspiracy reported subsequently, HMRC chief David Harnett was accused of lying by both Tory and Labour MPs over his answers to a select committee.

Hartnett faced the Public Accounts Committee, which started off with Labour MP Margaret Hodge asking him if he admitted to lying about dealing with Goldman Sachs’ tax affairs.

She also said taxpayers had been “ripped off” by £10m from Goldman Sachs thanks to the HMRC.

UKuncut say:

This is at the heart of our legal action. We are saying that if was a genuine mistake, then it can be rectified and the money paid back. And being the reasonable people that we are, we have given them a couple of weeks to do so.

If not though, we will see them in court, as we believe that this handshake agreement is unlawful because, reportedly, Dave didn’t follow HMRC’s own procedures. So if it’s not quashed, Dave’s dodgy deal could land him in the dock.

The legal action will put further pressure on Hartnett to explain how exactly he “shook hands” on the deal.

UKuncut launched just over a year ago when a group of activists occupied the flagship Vodafone store in central London.

The legal spin off could become a highly significant if it leads to the HMRC back-tracking. It would also open up the possibility of more legal action.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I’d love to see the details here. Presumably they’re trying for a judicial review?

The chances of getting the settlement between Goldmans and HMRC overturned seem to me to be very slim indeed, given that UKuncut aren’t a party to that contract. Privity and all that.

Still, lots of lovely Keynesian stimulus for the hard pressed legal sector – all that taxpayers’ money can be diverted to the truly deserving: tax lawyers.

Oh, I *am* looking forward to this.

I’ve no idea whether they’ve standing to sue but let’s assume that they do. Let’s assume the case is heard. Here is I think what we’ll hear.

The 22 companies did indeed try to dodge. In 2005 21 of them caved and paid HMRC. Goldman decided to argue in court. So far we don’t disagree at all.

Now, according to Private Eye at least, the 21 were not charged interest on the back tax. Rightly or wrongly, but they weren’t.

Goldmans was charged (some) interest when they finally settled after fighting through the courts.

I think what we’ll find out is that Goldmans paid interest for the years they were fighting through the courts….as of course they should, they lost. But that they did not pay interest on the pre-2005 numbers, just like the other 21 did.

That is, that Goldman were treated just like the other 21 companies for the pre-2005 period.

From the numbers that P Eye gave, the sums do add up.

And “Goldman treated like 21 other companies” isn’t quite the sort of thing to get the rabble aroused, is it?

As I say, I’m really looking forward to this as I’m fascinated to find out whether I’m right here.

3. Leon Wolfson

@2 -” the 21 were not charged interest on the back tax. Rightly or wrongly, but they weren’t.”

Sure. Which will have to be discussed in court, no? And potentially re-opened itself.

“Details of the case were first leaked to the Guardian earlier this month.”

Private Eye have been talking about this (and the similar Vodafone case) for months now……

Sure. Which will have to be discussed in court, no? And potentially re-opened itself.

Well, the terms on which HMRC chose to settle with the 21 other companies are unarguably within HMRC’s remit to decide. No judicial review is going to able to challenge that.

If you want to overturn a decision of a public body by judicial review, you have to demonstrate that they were acting illegally, irrationally, or beyond their power. I don’t see that any of these factors apply in this case. Unless there’s more detail that we’re missing, I’d be surprised if this gets terrible much further.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Friendly lawyer

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  2. James Reeley

    'spin-off group – Uk Uncut Legal Action @ukuncutlegal – threaten to sue HMRC over Goldman SAch tax deal with dodgy Dave http://t.co/ydq1KIEf

  3. James Reeley

    'spin-off group – Uk Uncut Legal Action @ukuncutlegal – threaten to sue HMRC over Goldman SAch tax deal with dodgy Dave http://t.co/wLD17tj6

  4. Davey Moore

    #UKUncut threatens to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal http://t.co/3OZNRHEW – Liberal Conspiracy

  5. Mock The Left

    RT @tweetminster: #UKUncut threatens to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal http://t.co/Cf5ARPNJ <Crack on. *Gets big bag of popcorn*

  6. Andrew Simmonds

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  7. StevenToms

    #UKUncut threatens to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal http://t.co/3OZNRHEW – Liberal Conspiracy

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  10. samarkis

    More significant than it looks -> UKuncut legal spin-off to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal http://t.co/XyVFgNtM

  11. Alex Braithwaite

    UKuncut to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fDgPC08G via @libcon

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  14. Richard Hartley

    RT @libcon: UKuncut to sue HMRC over Goldman Sachs deal http://t.co/tTZm9zBa @red_imp more info.. lying to select committee… tut tut

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  27. UKuncut win major battle against tax avoidance | Liberal Conspiracy

    [...] after, UKuncut announced a plan to sue HMRC itself over a Goldman Sachs deal, hoping it would affect the HMRC’s other deals [...]





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