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Campaign group UK Uncut Legal Challenge has won the right to challenge HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) alleged sweetheart deal with Goldman Sachs, which the group claims allowed the bank to walk away from paying £10m in back taxes.
The campaign group was in the High Court today in front of Mr Justice Simon, who agreed that the case should go to a full judicial review in spite of protests from HMRC’s lawyers that this would mean endangering taxpayer confidentiality.
Simon J said that it was an important issue that was in the public interest and that should be heard by the courts, according to Leigh Day & Co human rights head Richard Stein, who is representing UK Uncut.
The challenge relates to a deal allegedly struck between HMRC and Goldman Sachs in 2010, which UK Uncut wants quashed. UK Uncut accused HMRC of letting Goldman Sachs off paying interest payments worth around £10m on the £24m it was found to owe after the bank had spent years arguing that it should not have to pay national insurance on UK staff bonuses.
Stein is advising UK Uncut Legal Challenge on a no-win, no-fee basis. The group has also instructed Devereux Chambers’ Ingrid Simler QC and Blackstone Chambers’ Ben Jaffey as counsel. HMRC is being advised by First Treasury Counsel James Eadie QC, also of Blackstone Chambers.
According to Stein, UK Uncut will now wait for the National Audit Office’s report into similar tax deals, which is being presented to Parliament today and will be published tomorrow. The group will look to see if it should reform its case in light of that report and will then serve its amended grounds against HMRC within 28 days. HMRC will then have until 14 September to respond.