Internal requests for support re:liability for prosecution due to the Loan Charge policy

Graham Howarth made this Freedom of Information request to HM Revenue and Customs

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

HMRC are aware that a number of people have taken their lives directly linked to the policy known as the Loan Charge. The information on numbers has been communicated to both Jim Harra and to the FST.

FOI2021/24036 - SMS traffic for Penny Ciniewicz
"Received 5 November 2019, 11:31
Penny, just to alert you to the report of a fifth suicide linked to DR. I will notify perm secs and
fst."

This is a request for any communications, be it Email, IM, SMS, correspondence or any other form of communications used within HMRC to/from HMRC SOLS office to any senior official in HMRC be they a commissioner or otherwise, past or present, relating to any request soliciting HMRC's or personal liability for the loss of life caused by the Loan Charge policy.

This is likely to be a request from individuals asking if the loss of life

1) could ever become their personal responsibility
2) attributed to them in a court of law
3) what protections are afforded personnel who have designed the policy
4) what protections are afforded personnel who have implemented and operating the policy
5) questions as to whether HMRC have corporate liability

Yours faithfully,

Graham Howarth

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Howarth,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 14
November.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear FOI Team,

Thank you for responding to my request and explaining the process of having to search the records held by many civil servants.

Given the information that you have provided I would appreciate being able to modify my request to be more specific. This should reduce the scope so that you are only having to search the records for one civil servant.

The request is only to search the emails to Jim Harra between the 1/11/2017 and 25/11/2021 that include the words "suicide" or "suicidal" combined with one of the following key words - "Loan Charge", "LC", "Disguised Remuneration" or "DR". Please use appropriate logic in your search to eliminate acquiring duplicates. However, If the number returned is still too large please provide a break down by month/phrase of the query result.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howarth

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: FOI2021/28738

Dear Mr Howarth,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 26 November.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

We will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either comply
with our obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we think it's
an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the Act, let
you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it on to a
more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

While we aim to respon d to all freedom of information requests within 20
working days, if for some reason this timescale cannot be complied with,
we will, where possible, write to you explaining the reason for the delay
and provide an estimated time for response.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Howarth,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 26
November.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear FOI Team,

Thank you for providing the table of emails received by Mr Harra.
I note that you have exempted providing copies of them on the grounds of section 14, whilst at the same time stating
"Therefore, to comply with your request would create a burden by requiring HMRC to spend an inordinate amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions"
The FOIA and ICO guidance states that the time required to review and redact information being provided should not be included in the costs which is a section 12 exemption.

Nevertheless, it may be that the needs of my research can be met by providing copies of the 30 emails received with the criteria specified in the period 1/10/2019 to 31/12/2019
Please provide the 30 emails received in this period.
The scope is now sufficiently small so as not invoke exemption, section 14.

I would also like to remind you that there is a strong public interest in understanding how the Loan Charge precipitated 8 suicides and how HMRC have responded to this. The use of public interest exemptions does not stand scrutiny when people are losing their lives.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howarth

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: FOI2021/31641

Dear Mr Howarth,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 22 December.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

We will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either comply
with our obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we think it's
an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the Act, let
you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it on to a
more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

While we aim t o respond to all freedom of information requests within 20
working days, if for some reason this timescale cannot be complied with,
we will, where possible, write to you explaining the reason for the delay
and provide an estimated time for response.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Howarth,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 22
December.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear FOI Team,

Thank you for your response and the release of a number of emails.

I am disappointed that HMRC have used section 36(2)(b)(i) of the FOIA to withhold /redact sections of the response. The claim that this is necessary to allow its staff to have confidential conversations does not stand scrutiny when it is accepted that eight or more taxpayers have taken their lives because of this policy.

HMRC appears to be using section 36(2)b(i) inappropriately to withhold any section of an email that does not promote HMRTC's public policy

I would like HMRC to :-
1) conduct an internal review of this response
2) provide a copy of the qualified opinion
3) reconsider its decision to withhold parts of Email 29

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howarth

FOI Team, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: IR2022/01284

Dear Mr Howarth,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 24 January.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

We will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either comply
with our obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we think it's
an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the Act, let
you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it on to a
more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

While we aim to respond to all freedom of information requests within 20
working days, if for some reason this timescale cannot be complied with,
we will, where possible, write to you explaining the reason for the delay
and provide an estimated time for response.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear FOI Team,

Please can you respond to this request.
It is now significantly overdue.

You had indicated that the response would be within 20 days and it has now exceeded 40.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Howarth

Team, FOI, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Howarth,

We are writing in response to your request for information, received 24
January.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team