Thursday, 2 May 2013

It doesn't matter

UK Uncut Legal Action finally have their day in court:
A controversial "sweetheart" tax deal between HM Revenue & Customs and Goldman Sachs, worth up to £20m, was agreed in part to avoid embarrassment to George Osborne, according to the government's former head of tax. 
Dave Hartnett wrote that he decided to settle the long-running dispute after Goldman Sachs threatened to pull out of a prized new tax framework a week after the chancellor had announced that the bank had signed up to it. 
The disclosures have emerged in an email and a witness statement placed before the high court on Wednesday where the campaign group UK Uncut Legal Action is asking for a judgment to declare that the 2010 settlement between Goldman and the tax authority was unlawful.
Indeed. But it doesn't matter, no really, none of this is important because:
  • The deal is done and dusted, and isn't going to be undone. Goldman Sachs will not be parting with any money as a result of the judicial review.
  • Hartnett left HMRC last year and can't be fired, disciplined, or whatever if the deal is found to be unlawful.
  • The NAO report contained a list of recommendations to help enhance the governance of large value tax settlements. Presumably, someone from the NAO is following up to see if they are being implemented.
The best result for UK Uncut then is that the deal is declared unlawful, HMRC say lessons have been learned and point to the NAO report recommendations, and the lawyers get paid. So apart from publicity for UK Uncut, what is the point of this court case?


  1. The legal team must be intelligent enough to know that what you say is true. They are lawyers after all. The reason they are doing it to make some money from their gullible followers.

    Just like the CEOs of charities who are paid 100s of thousands. It's all a scam to earn lots whilst pretending to be caring.

  2. From what I read of the case today, the assertions made by the UK Uncut side were based on rumour, hearsay, and some rather "interesting" interpretations of leaked documents.

    Here's a question though; why this case and not Vodafone? The GS settlement is a drop in the ocean compared to what UK Uncut claim the Voda one was (although it's horseshit).

  3. Because the facts of the Vodafone case are extremely embarrassing for UK Uncut from every angle. They and Murphy removed their descriptions of the case from their websites once they realised how stupid it made them look.

    1. Yep - my summary of the case is here -

      But forgetting about the technical aspects of the settlement, UK Uncut and Murphy will talk of Hartnett being "wined and dined" as evidence of "cosying up to big business", but what would be his motivation for waiving large sums of tax due? What would he stand to gain from it? This is where they go quiet because they don't have an answer, at least not one that wouldn't see them hit with a libel claim.