Hansard had to be read in conjunction with TMA 1970, s. 105 which makes it clear that (as an exception to the general rule of criminal law) statements made, and documents produced in the course of an investigation, will not be inadmissible as evidence in any criminal proceedings against the person in question for any kind of tax fraud simply because he has had it drawn to his attention that the Board may accept a pecuniary settlement in place of taking criminal proceedings. However, as Lord Hutton pointed out in R v IR Commrs ex parte Allen (1997) BTC 487.


‘If, in response to the Hansard statement, the appellant had given true and accurate information which disclosed that he had earlier cheated the Inland Revenue and had been prosecuted for that earlier dishonesty, he would have had a strong argument that the criminal proceedings were unfair and an even stronger argument that the Crown should not rely on evidence of his admission…’


This only applied if the taxpayer made a full and timeous confession. There would have been no limit on the full discretion of HMRC to prosecute if there were a deliberate failure to disclose errors or omissions. Indeed, before the introduction of the Civil Investigation of Fraud (CIF) procedure and creation of the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO), it was HMRC’s view that someone who only admitted part of the irregularities could face criminal charges not only in relation to the matter undisclosed but also the matters disclosed.


In practice, there were no cases in which the taxpayer was prosecuted where he has taken advantage of the Hansard to make a full confession and given full co-operation in quantifying all irregularities in his tax affairs.


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