London

VAT fraud accused barrister 'never saw bank statement'

A barrister accused of failing to pay £210,000 in VAT has told a court he "never looked at a bank statement".

Andrew Hill, 51, from Ealing in west London, told the Old Bailey that he was "not particularly minded about financial matters".

The court heard the barrister made a £300,000 profit during one eight-month trial but he had also been "on the brink of bankruptcy" at other times.

Mr Hill denies one count of cheating the public revenue.

The father-of-two, who works at the Old Bailey chambers, told the court: "I think that there are some things that I organise very well indeed, and there are other things that I just do not organise well at all.

"I've never looked at a bank statement, ever."

'Shambolic personal administration'

He told the court that he owned two houses in Ealing, one of which was worth £777,000, and said he had paid nearly £400,000 in tax in the past five or six years.

Mr Hill told the jury: "I've never deliberately intended to default on any debt."

He is accused of one count of cheating the public revenue by failing to pay Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) £210,000 between 2004 and 2011.

Mr Hill said he borrowed £233,000 from his wife's twin sister to pay his VAT bill, later calculated down to £210,000, but said she was "not particularly" wealthy.

His barrister John Hardy QC said at one point HRMC tried to contact Mr Hill at the wrong address and on the wrong phone number.

He added that "shambolic personal administration is at the heart of this, not dishonesty".

Judge Nicholas Cooke, formerly the Recorder of Cardiff, who is trying the case, said he had no personal or professional knowledge of Mr Hill, who is originally from south Wales.

The trial continues.

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