A6.106 Human rights
The right to a fair trial, provided under Article 6 of the Convention (see A2.311), is the most directly relevant to tax investigations and has been relied on by taxpayers to challenge tax prosecutions and tax penalties. Although the challenges have not necessarily been successful, they have led to important changes in HMRC procedures and UK legislation.
The rights guaranteed by Article 6 include the right against self-incrimination and this aspect was considered in the case of R v Allen1. In that case, the House of Lords considered the human rights implications of the Hansard procedure, and the risk of self-incrimination. The taxpayer argued that producing a schedule of assets under the Hansard procedure breached his right against self-incrimination, as the delivery of the schedule was 'involuntary', having been induced by a promise implicit in the Hansard statement that he would not be prosecuted if he furnished the required information.
In versions of Hansard up to that time, HMRC had given no definite undertaking to refrain from prosecution, even in a case where a full confession had been made. Lord Hutton indicated that if, in response to the Hansard statement, a taxpayer gave true and accurate information that disclosed that he had earlier cheated HMRC, and he was then prosecuted for that earlier dishonesty, he would have a strong argument that the Crown should not be able to rely on evidence of his admission.
Their Lordships' criticisms resulted in the
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