HMRC Redknapp blunder could cost £8m

The judgment of HMRC is under the spotlight after Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was acquitted of cheating the public revenue, along with Milan Mandaric, the ex-Portsmouth chairman.

HMRC's investigation lasted five years. It cost the taxpayer several millions. Yet HMRC remains defiant about the waste of public cash.

No regrets

"If you look at the logic of the case none of it made sense," Harry Redknapp's defence barrister John Kelsey-Fry, QC, told the Mail. "It's one of those things where if you sit down and think about it, you know there is something not right there."

It's difficult to know exactly how much the bungled HMRC allegations cost the taxpayer. The Crown Prosecution Service was involved - 'fair, fearless, effective' it claims - as was the City of London Police - and, of course, it clocked up thousands of HMRC hours. Police interviews; a dawn raid; many millions spent. But a jury threw the case out in just five hours.

What is breathtaking is that HMRC had no regrets about taking on Redknapp, whose own legal fees for the case have tipped £500,000. HMRC's Assistant Director of Criminal Investigations, Chris Martin, said it was "vitally important" that the facts of the case were presented to a public jury.

No arrests

"We accept the verdict of the jury but I would like to remind those who are evading tax by using offshore tax havens that it always makes sense to come forward and talk to us before we come to talk to you."

The FT claims HMRC has been given £900m to look more closely at tax avoidance and to step up the number of prosecutions, though clearly it will need to pick with more care in future, especially if targets are high profile.

The City of London Police haven't, like HMRC, come out of this covered in much glory either. Despite a massive global banking seizure, the City of London police have yet to arrest one single banker for any offence. Yet much of the credit crisis deal-making was done in the City of London, right in its own backyard.

Five biggest taxpayer stings

Five biggest taxpayer stings