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Criminal defence barrister jailed for tax fraud

HMRC: Barrister abused the tax system

A criminal defence barrister who specialised in fraud work has been jailed for 18 months for tax fraud.

Peter Moss, 61, failed to submit 26 VAT returns and any self-assessment returns since 1999, resulting in a loss to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of £138,500.

Mr Moss was called in 1980. His last practising address was at Linenhall Chambers in Chester but he is no longer practising there and is currently an unregistered barrister.

According to HMRC, Mr Moss admitted knowing that he should have submitted the returns, but said that he did not know it was an offence not to do so.

He claimed he was in debt with a number of people and responds to “whoever shouts the loudest”.

HMRC said Mr Moss, from Hawarden in Wales, had been registered as a sole trader since 1985 and did not submit the returns despite visits from officers in the past.

He was found guilty of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax, contrary to section 106A of the Taxes Management Act 1970, and being knowingly concerned in fraudulent evasion of VAT, contrary to section 72(1) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994

He mainly operated in criminal defence and HMRC said he earned in excess of £600,000 between 2008 and 2016.

Although he had previously entered a voluntary agreement to declare his earnings and pay his tax, he still did not do so.

Paul Maybury, assistant director in HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “There is no doubt Moss was aware of his responsibilities as he had received previous warnings.

“He was abusing the tax system and depriving public services of vital funding to give himself an unfair advantage over his honest competitors.”

Ben Reid, a prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service’s specialist fraud division, added: “Peter Moss knew what was expected of him, having been registered as a sole trader since 1985, but still ignored the rules to avoid paying tax.

“The CPS worked closely with HMRC to prosecute this fraud and although Moss denied the offences, evidence presented in court saw him convicted.”