Pub landlord jailed for fiddling till records to dodge £85k tax bill

A former East Preston pub landlord who lied about his sales to evade £85,000 in tax has been jailed for 18 months.

Christopher Humphrey, 53, manipulated till records so lower daily takings were recorded, and provided inaccurate information to his accountants to avoid paying in VAT and corporation tax.

He also lied about the amount of stock purchased when he was landlord of The Tudor Tavern in East Preston – to try and hide the amount he was actually selling, according to HMRC.

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Chris Gill, assistant director of the HMRC fraud investigation service, said: “Christopher Humphrey lied about his true takings to pay less tax, which gave him an unfair advantage over business competitors.

“Our message is clear – it is simply not acceptable to steal from the tax system and honest UK taxpayers.”

The fraud, which took place between August 2011 and June 2015, was uncovered by HMRC’s cash taskforce and referred for criminal investigation.

Enquiries revealed Humphrey had evaded £53,464 in VAT and £31,128 of corporation tax.

He was arrested by HMRC investigators in August 2015, and at the time of his arrest he was sole director of The Tudor Tavern EP Limited, of Sea Road, East Preston.

Humphrey, from George V Avenue, Worthing, pleaded guilty on November 28 at Wood Green Crown Court to cheating the public revenue of VAT between August 2011 and June 2015, and cheating the public revenue of corporation tax between August 2011 and November 2014

He was jailed for 18 months at the same court on December 14. He was also disqualified from holding any company directorships for three years.

When sentencing Humphrey, His Honour Judge Lucas QC, said: “You ran a public house in a manner I can only describe as wholly fraudulent. It is clear that not only were you cheating the public revenue but also deceiving your employers by purchasing stock elsewhere.”

Mr Gill said: “HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who attack the tax system and we ask anyone with information about suspected tax fraud to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”