Dear Mr Fitzpatrick,
SUBJECT : RANGERS TAX CASE
I refer to my previous correspondence to you regarding this matter and the various concerns I raised with you. I appreciate to date there has still been no conclusion to the ongoing Police Investigation into the criminal Breaches of Confidentiality which so characterised this HMRC investigation.
Since we last exchanged correspondence the only significant development has been the dismissal by Lord Doherty at the Upper Tier Tribunal, of HMRC’s appeal against the decision of the First Tier Tax Tribunal. It is as yet unknown whether HMRC intend to escalate this matter and launch a further appeal, despite the previous decisions of the First and Upper Tier Tribunals.
However it is the conduct of HMRC during the course of this investigation which is a source of considerable anger and ongoing concern. As I previously informed you, many Rangers supporters and shareholders wrote to both HMRC and Government Minister’s with ministerial responsibility regarding breaches of confidentiality regarding the Rangers Tax Case, only to receive responses from both HMRC and the HMRC Ministerial Correspondence Unit that they would not comment on “alleged breaches of confidential information”.
The source of such “alleged breaches” was an award winning web blog – The Rangers Tax Case Blog- which ran for numerous months and regularly published confidential information which it sought to interpret courtesy of it’s anonymous operator. BBC Scotland also produced an award winning documentary “The Men Who Sold The Jersey’s” which was a consequence of numerous items of confidential information they had received, by as yet, unknown means. BBC Scotland also published on their website numerous items of confidential information pertaining to the Rangers Tax Case.
An independent commission chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith subsequently concluded as follows :
Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request. [Section 98]
Not only does Lord Nimmo Smith highlight the impact of these breaches of confidentiality and their subsequent exposure, but as can be seen, he suggests that the material passed to BBC Scotland was in actual fact evidence before the Tax Tribunal. Whilst it is dangerous to make any presumptions, I do not think it is unreasonable to presume that evidence removed from an evidential storage area, can only have been appropriated by theft.
Furthermore as the Police Enquiry into the breaches of confidentiality only commenced after the conclusion of the First Tax Tribunal, following a complaint by Sir David Murray, it would suggest that this appropriation of evidence had up till that point gone unreported..
Whilst there are considerable parts of the jigsaw missing, based on the information which is available I would highlight the following areas of concern to you :-
HMRC having seized evidence, in order to progress an investigation, totally ignored repeated concerns and complaints pertaining to breaches of confidentially. To suggest that documentaries produced by BBC Scotland and broadcast on national television equate to “alleged breaches of confidentiality” is simply unacceptable. One is left to speculate if they even bothered to cross reference the evidence they had seized and catalogued with the information which that was being released into the public domain. I would respectfully suggest to you if they have failed to do so – that would be tantamount to gross negligence.
There is a considerable feeling amongst many shareholders that having highlighted breaches of confidentiality on numerous occasions, the response of HMRC was both dismissive and misleading, and displayed a complete abdication of their legal responsibility.
Lord Nimmo Smith’s conclusion that the material passed and subsequently used by BBC Scotland was evidence before the Tax Tribunal raises serious questions about the safe handling and storage of productions by HMRC. If the security of these productions was violated, on how many occasions did this happen ? How was this possible and what steps did HMRC take to report this apparent criminality ? Did they in fact report this appropriation of evidence and what was their legal responsibility to do so ?
I’m sure you will appreciate the above concerns are only the tip of the iceberg and there are numerous other areas of concern as well as questions shareholders and supporters have. HMRC’s failure to deal with previous complaints has resulted in an erosion of confidence in this organisation’s ability to respond to concerns.
The apparent, and further possible failings within a government investigative body should be a concern to everyone, even those outside the Rangers community. The concerns I have highlighted are particularly grave and warrant considerable in depth investigation and clarification, not only for the Rangers community, but to ensure all persons dealing with HMRC in the future can so with confidence.
I would therefore ask you to raise these concerns amongst your peers within the Scottish Parliament, and for consideration to be given to a full government enquiry in order that these concerns can be investigated fully.