Update: see the end of this blog.
I haven’t written much about the UK-Swiss deal (though I did speak on several radio stations yesterday, including the BBC’s flagship Today programme).
For the record, this deal is (to use the words of Christian Aid) a disgrace. It is a thoroughly rotten, shabby, money-grubbing deal, which colludes with criminality. It is a decisive victory for Switzerland over the UK. At a time of national soul-searching about a widespread moral deficit or collapse following the UK riots, it is astonishing that such a signal is being sent. Astonishing.
In Treasure Islands, I wrote in quite some detail about the appalling attitude to tax exhibited by Dave Hartnett, head of HMRC (the UK tax authorities.) I spoke at length to an insider from HMRC, who spoke anonymously, outlining just how bad things are. (You might also take a look at Richard Brooks’ testimony recently on another appalling Hartnett-sanctioned UK tax deal.) To save time on some of Hartnett’s failings on the latest deal, I’ll point readers towards this latest Tax Research blog looking at his attitude.
Hartnett has exhibited some disgraceful lapses of judgement, over many years, and this latest one is the last straw for me.
Speaking purely in a personal capacity here, I think it is time for Dave Hartnett to resign.
And as regards what exactly is wrong with this deal, I’ve just written something here. Please read it.
This poses a terrible danger for the people of Britain and the wider world.
Update: I alerted a UK tax insider to this blog, and he said that while one should always be cautious about callling for the resignation of a civil servant, as they generally reflect and implement the wishes of their superiors, he agreed with me. This is what he said:
He [Hartnett] is no ordinary civil servant. He has abrogated a great deal of power and taken control of tax matters from inter-governmental agreements to £20m investigations settled in cosy chats. This was personal; he sees it as a legacy issue.
He’s courted a high public profile. He’s broken down all the boundaries and controls. And this is just what’s publicly known. When it comes to the administration of the department he has sidelined people with any integrity and ability and promoted acolytes. As a result he goes unchallenged and there are no credible alternatives to him at the top.
So I do agree with you. I think he should have gone over the dodgy deals. The Goldman deal – he just let them off £20m after a dinner at their place – is absolutely clear cut.”