Victory for Ingenious in Battle Against HMRC After Unanimous Supreme Court Decision

LONDON--()--The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled that HMRC unlawfully disclosed confidential information in an "off the record" background briefing of the press.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has unanimously found in our favour. This was never about restricting HMRC's ability to collect taxes, nor was it about preventing the press from investigating public interest stories.”

Commenting on the judgement given by the Supreme Court, an Ingenious spokesperson said:

"We are delighted that the Supreme Court has unanimously found in our favour. This was never about restricting HMRC's ability to collect taxes, nor was it about preventing the press from investigating public interest stories.

Consistent with HMRC’s own guidelines, this was simply about upholding the basic legal principle that HMRC owe a duty of confidentiality to each and every tax payer and their affairs should not form the subject of “off the record” background briefings to the media.”

Background:

The case involved an “off the record” background briefing of the press in June 2012 by the then Permanent Secretary of HMRC, Mr Hartnett, at which Dave Hartnett supplied confidential information to two journalists. The information disclosed was only tangentially related to the case before the First Tier Tax Tribunal and the film production partnerships which Ingenious operated. This briefing took place during the ordinary course of an enquiry into their film production partnerships and despite the fact that they had been entirely transparent with HMRC about the structure and operation of the film production partnerships and had engaged and cooperated with HMRC for many years in relation to the partnerships. The briefing took place before Ingenious had decided to commence legal proceedings at the First Tier Tax Tribunal.

HMRC sought to justify Mr Hartnett’s briefing on the basis that there was a general desire on the part of HMRC to foster good relations with the media and to publicise HMRC’s views regarding what they considered to be elaborate tax avoidance schemes.

However, the five judges of the Supreme Court unanimously decided that the arguments put forward by HMRC could not possibly justify a senior official, or any other official of HMRC, discussing the affairs of individual tax payers with journalists. Neither did the judges accept HMRC’s defence that because Mr Hartnett did not expect his comments to be reported that he was justified in making them. The judgement went on to say that 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.

This landmark ruling is of wide spread public interest as it upholds the basic common law principle of confidentiality and in particular the duty of confidentiality which is owed by HMRC to individual tax payers.

About Ingenious

We are an investment company specialising in the media, infrastructure and real estate sectors. Our philosophy is simple: we transform great ideas into outstanding businesses.

We look for the unknown angle by blending experience, sector knowledge and an extensive network of commercial relationships.

We act as the bridge between finance and business by identifying, funding and managing compelling investment opportunities to create value for our clients. This is achieved by blending experience, sector knowledge and an extensive network of commercial relationships. Our team of over 180 professionals, based in our central London office, have skills extending across investment, capital raising, banking, law and accountancy, as well as producers, engineers and other sector experts. We raise capital to fund these opportunities from a range of partners including high net worth individuals, institutions, corporates, family offices and other financial institutions.

Since our inception in 1998, we have raised and deployed over £9bn in the media and entertainment, infrastructure and real estate sectors. In the last decade, Ingenious has been involved in the production of a broad range of films, including the multi- award winning Life of Pi, Avatar (the highest grossing film of all time), the latest five films in the long-running X-Men franchise, the highly successful Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, breakout British hits including Suffragette and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the Oscar® nominated pictures Brooklyn and Carol. A United Kingdom starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo opened the London Film Festival on 5th October and goes on general release next month.

In television, we have aided the production of more 600 hours of television programming and over 160 television projects such as The Fall, Dr. Foster, Marcella, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Frankenstein Chronicles, Plebs and The Honourable Woman, among many others.

Contacts

Ingenious
Martin Smith
Email: martin.smith@theingeniousgroup.co.uk
Tel: 020 7319 4045
or
Powerscourt
Theo Crutcher
Email: theo.crutcher@powerscourt-group.com
Tel: 020 7250 1446