A former TV chef from Lancashire, who received an MBE in 2009 for services to catering, has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 for ignoring a trading ban.
Paul Heathcote, from Preston, had been warned by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that unless he put up a cash security to safeguard payment of VAT, he could no longer supply taxable goods or services at his PH restaurants in Preston and Longridge. However, he continued to trade for more than three months after the ban was imposed.
Colin Spinks, assistant director, criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Mr Heathcote was given numerous opportunities to continue trading legitimately but he chose to flout the law. We will take action to ensure the correct tax is paid and investigate those who are subject to a trading ban because they owe VAT.”
Heathcote came to the attention of HMRC when his previous company, The Longridge Restaurant, de-registered 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.
As the new companies posed a potential risk, Heathcote was told to pay a VAT security of £72,190 or stop trading. Despite written notices telling him the terms of the security requirement, both restaurants continued to trade illegally.
Heathcote faced 30 charges under the VAT Act, and was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £7,052 in compensation to HMRC. He subsequently paid the £25,018 security required for the Preston restaurant.