Corruption – Revenue fights staff vetting call

The Inland Revenue is resisting demands by MPs to introduce financial vetting of staff in the wake of the case of Michael Allcock, the high-ranking inspector who was jailed for corruption in 1997.

MPs on the public accounts committee recommended financial vetting after an inquiry into the scandal which it completed in April. It also called for annual declarations by staff that they have complied with the Revenue’s code of conduct.

It said that, despite the Revenue’s concerns, it continued to see a case for such procedures to be introduced.

But in a carefully worded response to the findings of the committee released last week, the Revenue stopped far short of introducing the measures.

It said it would continue to ‘keep under review procedures for financial vetting and annual declarations by staff. The Revenue will address them again if the controls which are put in place are shown to be less effective than anticipated.’

The Revenue has consistently argued that vetting is impractical and likely to antagonise staff. The controls introduced include a register of high corruption-risk cases and better internal audit procedures.

A national survey will also be undertaken later this year to indicate the awareness of Revenue staff about the standards of behaviour expected of them.

Revenue lawyers are suing Allcock, who was sentenced to five years, for the return of £150,000 in bribes he was found guilty of taking, but it is unlikely the full extent of his corruption will ever be known.

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