It may be a David and Goliath confrontation, but Kingsley Park Working Men’s Club have slung a mighty rock at HM Customs & Excise. It won’t have cast the UK’s VAT authorities asunder, but it will certainly sting. The WMC want their £37,000 of duty back, and they are calling on the media to support their fight for justice.
Barry Slasberg, the man driving the campaign to secure the return of £36,759.53 to Kingsley Park Working Men’s Club’s from the clutches of the VAT authorities, has written to the media to help force Janet Alexander, director of compliance at HMRC, to pay their money back.
In a letter circulated to The Times, Daily Mail, the Mirror, The Sun, BBC and Coinslot, Slasberg called on the press to investigate the plight of his own WMC and that of 2,997 other organisations impacted by HMRC’s decision to call-back VAT duty, it said, was due as a result of a High Court judgement.
Slasberg says this decision was taken on a “lie” and “in contravention of court rulings”.
To those outside the industry, this case is complicated and entangled. For Slasberg, Working Men’s Clubs around the country and the gaming and amusements industry in general, it’s actually a matter of financial life and death.
“Five years ago HMRC dishonestly deprived my club of over £37k,” Slasberg told Coinslot. “For all that time I have been fighting a one man war to seek justice by getting HMRC to acknowledge the truth.”
And he hasn’t held back. In a potent, forthright and stinging letter to HMRC director Janet Alexander, Slasberg advised the tax official that if she didn’t reply to his request, he would have no other option but to take his fight to the public.
And this “self confessed activist against fraud by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise”, has been true to his word.
“I have no qualms in seeking support through publicising my club’s plight. Should publicity do the trick for my club, about 3,000 other businesses, many of which are not for profit social clubs suffering the same plight, will benefit.”
The cause is a worthy one particularly for small WMCs whose futures depend on relatively small turnovers.And for Kingsley Park,circa £37,000 has to and froed between the WMC and HMRC over the years, with the tax office taking an extremely aggressive stance on its coveting of the cash.
But the question remains: who’s money is it? According to Slasberg and his advisors, it definitely isn’t HMRC’s. And even HMRC have noted previously that the matter does remain a contention for court.
But £37,000 is a lot of dosh to Kingsley Park; it could ensure the doors stay open rather than the shutters coming down. As Slasberg concluded in his letter to HMRC: “I would ask, “Is it right for HMRC to obtain money from taxpayers in contravention of court judgements by telling straight forward LIES, and then hold on to it by changing its own stated policy when that policy goes against its own wishes?”
The tax office’s response, or lack of it, probably says it all – they clearly don’t give a damn. But, 3,000 Working Men’s Clubs do and that is the test for local politicians and the media alike.
You either back Kingsley Park or you support a King’s ransom?
Either way, HMRC are not giving that money back any time soon; and Barry Slasberg and Kingley Park WMC are not going to be silenced.
It’s a good old fashioned working men’s battle. Where’s Jeremy Corbyn when you need him?