DRAGON’S DEN PR Richard Hillgrove is to sue his former accountants and HMRC for his wrongful arrest.
On 12 June, Bristol HMRC officers carried out a dawn raid on Hillgrove and his wife at their Somerset property, taking the couple to the local police station, Business Matters reports.
However, Hillgrove argues HMRC officers were unaware he had already entered into a tax deferral scheme called Time to Pay and had also made a £70,000 payment.
“Like Harry Rednapp, I’m excellent at what I do, but the numbers side of the business is not my forte. I wrongly gave total responsibility for my financial affairs and filing to local accountants who botched it up so spectacularly that I had already removed them from having responsibility for my financial affairs,” he said.
His solicitors argue that an initial chat usually takes place in late payment tax matters, with the debtor asked to come into HMRC’s offices to find a remedy for the situation.
“When a key client went bust owing us £50,000, it put a lot of pressure on cashflow,” said Hillgrove. “Hence the need for Time to Pay on VAT and income tax”.
Hillgrove is due to appear at Taunton Crown Court on Friday 14 September for tax liabilities of about £100,000. He claims the hearing is a “face-saving exercise” by HMRC after a series of other charges such as money laundering were later dropped, following the raid.
“It is always my intention to pay my taxes. We simply had a cashflow issue. I am not a tax avoider. I don’t have any clever schemes set up. This is an administrative blunder by HMRC who haven’t been helped by local accountants protecting themselves by not providing a full disclosure of documents when approached with questions,” he said.
Hillgrove, who founded Hillgrove PR, represents Dragon’s Den stars James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne.
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