Civil rights concerns over new Justice Bill.

Tax experts are calling for wider consultation on a new Bill that radically breaks with the tradition of confidentiality agreements and privileged information.

The Criminal Justice and Police Bill intended to improve information sharing between government departments, police and foreign authorities lacks safeguards and will be impractical, say experts.

John Gwyer, tax partner at Pannell Kerr Forster, said: ‘It will be completely unworkable because of the time constraints, amount of information and it will infringe on civil rights.’

As new issues come to light, fears are growing that new powers proposed for the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise will target the honest taxpayer over the criminal. Francesca Lagerberg, tax expert at the ICAEW’s tax faculty, warned: ‘Don’t just rush this through. We need a public airing.’

Other concerns are that information obtained will be used for other purposes by different authorities and that punishment will vary between foreign and national law enforcers.

If passed the Criminal Justice and Police Bill will give the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise a statutory power to disclose privileged information to national and foreign police in a bid to crack down on international money laundering, fraud and corruption.

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