Press release: UK Uncut respond to Hartnett’s ‘retirement’


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UK Uncut have today welcomed the announcement that Dave Hartnett is due to retire from his role as boss of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) [0].

Hartnett has repeatedly been brought in front of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on tax deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs that cost the taxpayer up to £6bn and £10m respectively. The latest session ended with him being forced to deny he had plans to resign [1].

A survey last year found that he was Whitehall’s most ‘wined and dined’ civil servant, treated by corporations 107 times in 3 years to top a survey of 172 senior civil servants [2]. MPs and commentators from across the political spectrum joined the call for Hartnett to resign [3] [4] [5].

Pressure in parliament and in the press has been a response to sustained action from protesters. Since October 2010 UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action group, have been using direct action and street protest to draw attention to the way in which deals are made for the super-rich, allowing them to avoid paying tax.

Recent UK Uncut actions calling for Hartnett’s resignation included protesters from UK Uncut and Occupy London blocking the entrance to the HMRC head office [6]. Another protest, on Wednesday November 9, saw UK Uncut and student activists disrupt Hartnett’s speech at The Tax Journal Conference. Dressed as executives from Vodafone and Goldman Sachs, activists presented Hartnett with flowers, wine and a card to thank him for preferential tax deals [7]. A video of the action has attracted over 11,000 hits on Youtube [8].

UK Uncut have vowed to keep the pressure on the government and corporate tax dodgers. On Saturday December 17, activists all over the country will shut down tax dodging stores on the busiest shopping day of the year. People are currently voting on an online poll to decide who should be the target of the actions- the most likely candidates are Vodafone and Philip Green’s Arcadia empire [9].

Alana Hay from UK Uncut responded to Hartnett’s announcement with the following statement: “Dave Hartnett has allowed big business and rich individuals to get away with daylight robbery. We hope that his departure brings a new way of working for HMRC, one which means that big business is not let off millions or even billions of pounds. The government must force HMRC to clamp down on tax avoidance by corporations and rich individuals and use the money to stop these unnecessary cuts to our welfare state and essential public services.”


Notes to editor