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The Inheritance Tax Return

Following Mrs Paul's death, John was required as Executor and Trustee to undertake certain statutory obligations. Amongst these was the requirement to complete a declaration for tax purposes in respect of the deceased's estate and including any known gifts made in the previous 7 years. A firm of lawyers (Robertson & Co.) based in Mrs Paul's home town of Bo'ness was contacted and instructed to prepare an inventory. This Company also undertook the clearance of furniture and effects from Mrs Paul's home and arranged for them to be auctioned in Edinburgh. After several weeks John was contacted by Gregor Robertson of Robertson & Co. seeking further information about the estate including the portfolio which had been held in Trust since 1991. Apparently, a manager at the Bank of Scotland had been claiming that there was a portfolio unaccounted for in the tax inventory. This was incorrect given that a period of some 7 years had elapsed since the portfolio was transferred by Mrs Paul and consequently did not require to be included for tax purposes. Robertson chose to accept the bankers information however and shortly afterwards withdrew from acting. It seems that he was of the opinion that Mrs Paul's former bankers knew more about her personal business affairs than her own kith and kin!

It was not for another five years that John managed to secure evidence that there was more going on behind the scenes than he could ever have imagined. Amongst Inland Revenue documents originally withheld by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service but subsequently grudgingly provided under duress, were numerous memos and letters clearly showing that Robertson was not all that he seemed. It appears that Robertson, who previously worked for the Capital Taxes Office of the former Inland Revenue in Edinburgh, had made several telephone calls to his former employers behind John's back in an attempt to incriminate him in some form of tax evasion. The reason for such actions have never been established and to speculate on such would be counter productive. He had apparently made the initial calls anonymously according to Revenue documents, withholding names and addresses but giving just enough information to arouse suspicion prompting what was to become an International witch-hunt.

This was to backfire on Robertson at a later date however as the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service threaten to prosecute him for withholding information and files relating to John and Mrs Paul's affairs. It was only with the help of the Legal Defence Union in Scotland that Robertson was able to avert being prosecuted himself. This information has never been made public. These facts are the subject of a formal complaint to the Law Society of Scotland and which still remains to be determined.

It must be pointed out that Robertson & Co ceased to trade in 2004 on the retirement of Gregor Robertson.

The Inland Revenue's Special Compliance Office Involvement

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as it is now known, was formed on 1st April 2005 by the merger of two separate departments, namely, the former Inland Revenue and the Customs & Excise Department. One of the first changes to be introduced by the newly formed HMRC was to launch an independent prosecutions office, the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO), which took over the prosecutions responsibility of both the Special Compliance Office (SCO) and HM Customs & Excise.

The case to which this website relates was initiated prior to the merger and so was conducted by SCO, the Inland Revenue's so-called elite in-house criminal investigations department. The investigation was conducted by a team of SCO officers based in Edinburgh, led by Stephen James Henderson, whilst liaising directly with their hierarchy in England. The staff at the SCO were dubbed the "ghostbusters" because they worked with super-rich "ghosts" who lived in Britain but chose to leave their wallets abroad. It is matter of fact that the SCO wanted to hold a ‘show trial’ in order to set precedent with respect to Inheritance Tax and, quite frankly, following the post trial publicity, create an atmosphere of fear among tens of thousands of ordinary people who may have either moved their inheritance and money overseas or not repatriated it to the UK to avoid paying tax. The comments by Revenue officers to the Press certainly bear this out including from the Revenues own Tax Bulletin 75 - February 2005, Inland Revenue investigator, Stephen Henderson states: “This case is the first prosecution involving Inheritance Tax and shows that the Inland Revenue will investigate fraud in all areas. Lamberton left a money trail that we followed until we caught up with him. Leaving the country did not lead to an escape from justice – to us, ‘offshore’ does not mean ‘off limits’.”    Maybe someone should have told Henderson that criminals don't leave paper trails that any idiot can follow and as for setting up a trading account just down the street from the Revenue offices in Edinburgh - just a bit too convenient don't you think? As far as leaving the country is concerned, apparently you are not allowed to have homes and work in Spain and Northern Ireland as far as SCO investigators based in Scotland were concerned, we wonder why?

The One and Only Interview by SCO

In January 2000, some 18 months after Mrs Paul's death, the case was referred by SCO Edinburgh to their Senior team in Nottingham and thereafter to the SCO Directorate at Solihull. The latter suggested that John and his brother be contacted and challenged in respect of Mrs Paul's former portfolio by inviting them to an interview. Contrary to normal protocol, John was never contacted by the Inland Revenue and was totally oblivious as to the enquiry gaining pace. One must recall that Henderson of SCO alleged that John had sold his home in Fife, left the country and disappeared to somehow escape the inevitable. This was nothing more than a cynical falsehood aimed at getting the attention of the Prosecuting Authorities in Scotland. John together with his entire family for that matter were totally unaware of the moves against him. When John eventually sold his property in Fife it had been on the market for an whole year, hardly what you would call 'a flight', there was absolutely no truth in what the SCO had alleged. After the sale on the 31st March 2000, John returned with his immediate family to Northern Ireland still unaware of the shady and sinister moves against him. On 19th April 2000, Henderson as lead investigator wrote to John's brother Colin who resided at the family farm in Northern Ireland and invited him to an interview supposedly in relation to his late aunt's affairs. The letter suggested that John, whose abode was then unknown to the Inland Revenue, attend the same interview. Tragedy was to overtake the family this very day however when John's mother passed away quite unexpectedly whilst undergoing tests at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry. Given the events, John still agreed to a meeting whilst being completely in the dark as to what it was all about. The meeting was arranged for Wednesday 3rd May 2000 within the Revenue Offices in Londonderry. John was not given any advance information concerning the meeting and was led to believe that it was about his own tax affairs. This was indeed a deviation from the Inland Revenue's own Code of Practice then prevailing for such investigations.

At this juncture it is worth pointing out the very different legal systems which prevail in Scotland compared to that of the rest of the United Kingdom. What we had in essence in this instance was an investigative team from Scotland acting under instructions from England, conducting an investigation of an Ulster citizen in Northern Ireland under Scots Law! The point about all this is that the laws of Northern Ireland being comparable to those in England have a distinct set of legal requirements including the prerequisite that full disclosure of the known facts are made before or during any interview. It seems that we are all part of the United Kingdom when it suits our regulatory authorities and we are not when it becomes less convenient for them. Human Rights? Hardly!

In the event, John and his brother cooperated fully with Henderson and his team of several investigators who had arrived from Edinburgh specifically for the interview, even foregoing his right to a solicitor as this would have effectively ended the interview that day before it had even begun. Having been given no advance information in relation to what the enquiry was about it was hardly surprising that John was unable to bring any documents to the meeting or arrange for professional assistance as was the right of any taxpayer confronted by such an enquiry. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, no allegations of any wrongdoing were made against John or his brother during the interview. There was however, an abundance of innuendo and false contention demonstrated by investigators based on unsubstantiated information and moreover, sour grapes which was clearly seen to have come from certain other individuals previously interviewed by SCO in Scotland. No arrangements were made for any further meetings and no contact was ever made to John by the Revenue in relation to such. This was the last contact John had with the Inland Revenue until his illegal and unjustifiable arrest in Spain on 5th August 2003 at the behest of the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland.

It is understood that some time after the initial meeting a second meeting did take place between John's brother and Revenue officials at the offices of T.E.W. Huey (Solicitors) in Londonderry with Mr Huey in attendance. Contrary to the laws relating to disclosure and to their obligation to do so, no details relating to this meeting have ever been made available to John or his legal team by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service. Such remains a closely guarded secret along with other files yet to be provided; so much for fairness and dare we mention it, Justice!

The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service