Chef hits back over run-in with HMRC

TV chef Paul Heathcote has hit out the decision to take him to court for VAT offences.

It emerged last week that the Preston restaurant owner was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay more than £7,000 compensation after HM Revenue and Customs brought 30 charges under the VAT Act.

But Heathcote has insists there was “no necessity” for the matter to go to court and said the episode had been an “unwanted distraction” for his business.

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In a statement published by the Lancashire Evening Post, Heathcote said: “I still believe that there was no necessity to take this to court. Our compensation offer to HMRC prior to the hearing was substantially higher than the amount actually awarded. I am pleased that we have a conclusion to the matter. It has been an unwanted distraction in a challenging economic environment.”

Heathcote was prosecuted after he ignored a trading ban imposed on his restaurants in Preston and Longridge.

According to the paper, the court was told the chef de-registered his previous company, The Longridge Restaurant, for VAT in 2011 owing almost £100,000 in unpaid taxes. On the same day he registered two new companies, PH Restaurants (Longridge) Ltd and PH Restaurants (Preston) Ltd.

HMRC ordered him to pay £72,190 VAT before they were allowed to trade. It was alleged he ignored the order for three months.

But Heathcote said: “I have always accepted that the Bond was paid late. I made efforts to raise the finance to meet the payment but these did not prove successful. We have clearly demonstrated that all our other payments have been made on time and we have always maintained that the company was happy to compensate for any potential loss to HMRC. I am delighted the Judge agreed with our position. He summarised that I was of good character with a sound track record and of an honest nature.”

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