@RichardJMurphy gets it wrong again

So, we’re told that because Dave Hartnett discussed some matters with the press therefore HMRC can indeed discuss the affairs of individual taxpayers. Thus all should be open for the PAC:

But let’s be clear what that means, which is that HMRC are now clearly at liberty to discuss a taxpayer’s affairs if it is in the public interest to do so, tax compliance is promoted as a result, understanding of other taxpayers is enhanced as a consequence and the Revenue’s approach is better understood as a result of the discussion.

I agree with that. But it also means that all those HMRC officials who have sat in front of the PAC and said they cannot comment on an individual taxpayer’s affairs are wrong to have done so. If HMRC is at liberty to be open with the press on such matters then they have a duty to be so with the PAC. That has not been the case.

I’d have Ed Troup back in front of the committee if I was chair of the committee to explain past excuses. The idea that HMRC can be open with the press abut not with parliament is wholly unacceptable, and has to be squashed once and for all.

Sadly, and inevitably, he’s managed to get this wrong.

Hartnett did not discuss the affairs of individual taxpayers at all. As Ritchie himself quotes:

This is an application for judicial review of a decision of the Defendants (“HMRC”), acting by one of their most senior officials, the Permanent Secretary for Tax at the relevant time (David Hartnett – “Mr Hartnett”), to disclose information relating to the First Claimant (” Ingenious Media “) and the Second Claimant (“Mr McKenna”) in an “off the record” briefing with two journalists from The Times newspaper on 14 June 2012. The journalists, Alexi Mostrous and Fay Schlesinger, published articles in The Times on 21 June 2012 regarding tax avoidance schemes, including film investment schemes, in which they named Ingenious Media and Mr McKenna, among others, as the promoters of such schemes.

He discussed their affairs as promoters of certain tax schemes. And HMRC has every right to talk about people wandering around flogging possibly dodgy tax schemes. What they’re not allowed to talk about is the affairs of any individual taxpayer, whether natural person or legal. Which they didn’t.

I’d actually rather like Margaret, Lady Hodge, to call Ed Troup back. she’d end up with a certain amount of egg on her face as this was gently explained to her. And thus might the Murphmeister’s influence be diminished.

Oh, as as to how we all found out who had been using these schemes being promoted, they used LLPs so were a matter of public record. nothing from inside HMRC at all.

23 thoughts on “@RichardJMurphy gets it wrong again”

  1. The sloppy berk has also managed to refer to ‘Incisive Media’ in his blog. Incisive Media are the publishers of, among other titles, Accountancy Age. They’re a good bunch of people and have nothing at all to do with tax avoidance.

    He means Ingenious Media. Ingenious, indeed.

  2. The point is, this clown is described on his own homepage as a “tax expert”. Margaret Hodge, Michael Meacher, the Daily Mirror and all his wannabe intellectual followers on his blog believe that he is indeed a “tax expert”. If he was merely a partner of a small-to-medium sized accountancy firm, who sold out of a London practice and moved to Norfolk, there would much to respect. He isn’t though; he’s a “tax expert” who knows fuck all about tax.

  3. I don’t think he can have read the judgment properly. At paragraph 49, Mr Justice Sales says:

    “The second feature of the case which I emphasise is the very limited nature of the disclosures made by Mr Hartnett and the particular circumstances in which he made them.”

    It’s a real facts of the case type decision and it’s a brave or foolish person who wants to use this one as a legal precedent to demand HMRC break their duty towards taxpayers’ confidentiality.

  4. The political debate today is almost breaking down into fairytale ‘good vs evil’. When we have people like Ritchie telling lies on his blog, then people like Margaret Hodge who, on having the lie pointed out, fix you with that half-smile and crazed middle-distance stare and just carry on regardless. What other word is there for this but evil?

  5. Ironman – it’s even worse in that none of the professional bodies are actually pointing out that Hodge and Ritchie and co are talking crap.

  6. What’s astonishing is that paragraph 50 of the judgement explicitly says that what Ritchie is claiming is illegal and that the court would have reached a different conclusion if specific details of a tax payers affairs had been disclosed

    Mind numbing misrepresentation of the actualite

  7. The squirming little toad is trying to wriggle his way out of this one. It’s a familiar pattern I’m afraid. He starts with absolute clarity and certainty:

    “As many readers of this blog will know, the standard response of HMRC when asked about the affairs of companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks at the Public Accounts Committee and elsewhere is that they cannot discuss individual taxpayer’s affairs. It’s a wonderful let out. What we also now know is that it is wrong…

    But let’s be clear what that means, which is that HMRC are now clearly at liberty to discuss a taxpayer’s affairs if it is in the public interest to do so… But it also means that all those HMRC officials who have sat in front of the PAC and said they cannot comment on an individual taxpayer’s affairs are wrong to have done so…

    If HMRC is at liberty to be open with the press on such matters…”

    Then some uncomfortable truths get pointed out to him (or he reads this blog) with the actual judgement:

    “Mr Hartnett did not pass to the journalists any information which Ingenious Media and Mr McKenna had provided to HMRC about their affairs”

    And he starts the tactical retreat, attempting to argue that he wasn’t after all claiming that a taxpayer’s details AS SUCH can be passed on and, hey, only idiots would think that was what he was saying:

    “Yes – I noted that But the same approach was not taken on other well known arrangements that required no more information to be disclosed and where HMRC’s opinion was not stated That is what I am highlighting HMRC could have stated they did not approve of Google’s arrangements in broad terms – but never came close to doing so That would not have come near breaching the detail of their tax affairs If yoy cannot see the point I am sorry – the decision clearly makes the point”.

    In other words, he now says he is only calling for HMRC to discuss things in outline terms, restricting itself to what it already in the public domain.

    But now let us be clear here; the judge found, as fact, that HMRC did not pass information to journalists that was not already out there. Yet that this is precisely, in terms, what Richard Murphy started by saying HMRC SHOULD do. He said that HMRC IS at liberty to discuss a taxpayer’s affairs, that its evidence to the PAC was wrong and that Ed Troupe should be hauled back in front of it pronto to explain himself.

    I’ve said it before: Richard Murphy is the reincarnation of Titus Oates.

  8. Paragraph 50 of the judgement is even more clear that HMRC do NOT have the liberty to disclose the private tax affairs of individuals. I used to think RM was just a well meaning bloke whose views were very different from mine. Now I can’t decide if he’s a cretin who doesn’t know what he’s talking about or a wilfully dishonest person telling absurd lies which can clearly be exposed by anyone looking below the rice-pudding skin thin veneer of his arguments.

  9. He’s also making the usual statist assumption that HMRC’s “approval” is required, outwith the specific instance of tax efficient schemes. All that is required is that you conduct your tax affairs in accordance with the law at the time, not some LHTD or Dodge idea of ‘fair taxation’.

  10. SE

    HMRC require all potential tax payers and their agents to register all such schemes for approval….which makes Hodge and Ritchie even more laughable, if only Arnald and their leftie friends realised

  11. Meanwhile, back in Gagaland Ritchie is continuing.with his re-writing of his own post. It’s worth a visit, his followers are so cretinous they swallow every word.

  12. Diogenes

    No, HMRC isn’t in a position to offer approval or otherwise. Certain schemes are indeed required to be registered, but not approved.

  13. I am deeply concerned by the reference in his blog about going to the OECD tomorrow. If the OECD start listening to him …

  14. “If the OECD start listening to him …”
    No one, of any consequence, listens to Richard Murphy. But he does voice opinions that many of them wish to hear voiced. Note: “Wish to be voiced.” does not imply share. It is a subtle game…

  15. I suspect it may be narcissism, based on a friend of mine who exhibited similar symptoms (though he’s a bit better now). Conviction that he’s right, he is a unique genius in a unique position, and that he alone is able to see the truth; refusal to admit error; presenting history in such a way as to show that he was right all along, or had always believed what he now does; inability to appreciate that people might genuinely hold points of view which conflict with his; dissecting any criticism he does acknowledge to find a nugget which can be construed as praise; seeing everything as related to him and his activities in some way; blanking out people who say things he doesn’t want to hear; paranoia that other people want to undermine him personally; and so on and so forth.

  16. I think Munchausen’s is a sort of externalised hypochondria which makes a virtue of the supposed problem: look at me, I’m ill, take care of me, my illness makes me special, I deserve good things because of my illness. So it’s almost the opposite of narcissim, in which the perceived virtue comes from being naturally fantastic rather than from having what would in other people be a flaw. Though I could be wrong 🙂

  17. Thanks, narcissist sounds like what I was thinking of. Was trying to think of the name as I’ve come across someone else called Mike Hill, a chartered engineer, who exhibits very similar traits to Richard Murphy.

  18. I see from the TJN blog that, in a delicious irony, the censor has become the censored – Ritchie was asked to stop live-tweeting from an OECD conference as other delegates were concerned that he was misrepresenting the speakers.

    Of course, Ritchie has responded in his usual fighting form – he will not be silenced.

  19. Has anyone here worked with the OECD and the individuals in their tax division. There are some damn good people there who understand taxation, those are generally seconded national experts. A big chunk of their staff are recent graduates who are still inexperienced. They are also based in Paris so there is a very heavy french influence.

    They are also deeply suspicious of all common law jurisdictions. I recall one “expert” saying something along the lines of “these common law lawyers just make it up as they go along”. In fact that is a very good description of how the common law system works but nevertheless shows a deep prejudice against anything not written down in a statute book somewhere.

    half the laws, regulations and rules that have been introduced in common law countries are the result of people from civil law jurisdictions saying things like “if it isn’t written down somewhere it doesn’t exist”.

    Trust me there are people at the OECD who will listen to Murphy, lets just hope they never get in any position of authority or once they dig deep enough realise he is a prat.

  20. “Who was it who described Richard Murphy’s mental illness. Was it you BiS? ”

    Certainly wasn’t me, SBML. I’m of the opinion Murphy’s entirely in control of his faculties & even knows most of what he spouts is nonsense. But it’s remarkably popular nonsense & spouting it is doing Murphy no harm whatsoever. Nor the interests who provide him with funds.

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