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18-2-2013 5:13 pm  #1


Just though i would post this,its from a few years ago when i first tried to record hmrc,they stopped me on quite a few occasions from recording,if only i knew what i know now.

Further to my colleague Mr coffee machine’s e-mail to you of, I have been investigating your complaint concerning the manner in which you say you were treated by HMRC officers on the above date.
You say that officers took too long to deal with the matter, and that they displayed an arrogant and intimidating attitude. You also say that you were given misleading advice, and that you were left for a long period without refreshment or the use of toilet facilities.
I have asked for reports through the senior manager of the team on duty at that time, and the officer and the senior officer who spoke with you have provided their comments through him. There some differences between your account of what happened and that presented by the officers, and I think it is important that I try to summarise what I have been told and highlight what I consider to be any significant differences.  
You were challenged at  in the HMRC ‘Blue’ channel in Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport. The officer who stopped you believed that some bags you were carrying may have contained significant quantities of cigarettes/tobacco, and therefore he decided to challenge you to ascertain if that was so. The officer reports that you told him he had no right to stop you.(his reasons given were that my suitcase was square) He explained the reason for his challenge and that it was carried out under section 163a of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (‘CEMA’). No tobacco goods showed up when your main baggage was x-rayed but as you then told the officer, two hand baggage items did contain a total of 6400 cigarettes and 6kg of hand-rolling tobacco (‘HRT’).
The officer stated that in view of these quantities he wished to ask you some further questions but that you were not under arrest and were free to leave (without the goods in question) if you chose to do so. You elected to stay and answer further questions. Before continuing, however, the officer explained that he needed to record events thus far in his notebook. I should explain that officers are required to make and keep a notebook entry of all such challenges. Notebooks form evidence in the event of a case being appealed or (as on this occasion) the subject of complaint or other action, and they should be completed either contemporaneously or if that is not possible, immediately after a discussion/action. You say that the officer left you for about 30 minutes to do this, but the officer does not have a record of how long he took (1) and although I have seen that you noted the officer’s notebook that you did not agree with the entry, that is not timed either.
You did not agree with what the officer had recorded in his notebook, and the officer tells me that in accordance with proper procedure he explained you were at liberty to note any discrepancies that you identified by writing them in the notebook before signing it. The officer says that he did not say to you that you could leave and return at a more convenient time (2). The officer explained to you that he was not yet satisfied that the goods you were carrying were not for a commercial purpose (or were for your own personal use), at which point you stated that you wished for any interview to be recorded. The officer says after informing his senior officer, he confirmed to you that any recording would be properly undertaken in the department’s facility in Terminal 1 of the airport.
The senior officer reports that you approached him in the HMRC area, asked if he was a senior officer (he replied ‘Yes’) whereupon you placed a Dictaphone in front of him and asked for a comment. The senior officer at that point did not know who you were( they had my fucking passport) or on what he was being asked to comment. In accordance with the department’s guidance to officers on speaking to, for example, the press or the general care necessary if approached by other third parties, the senior officer declined to speak at that time (3). Once he had been made aware of the situation and your identity, the senior officer was happy to explain again that the challenging officer wished to ask you further questions, and repeated that you were not under arrest but that if you chose to leave without answering further questions you would have failed to satisfy the officer that the goods you were carrying were not for a commercial purpose, and therefore they would become liable to forfeiture.
The senior officer reports that you asked him whether you had recourse to legal advice, to which he replied that you could choose to have a legal representative present and that if so the further questioning would be delayed until a legal representative arrived. He explained, when asked, that you would need to arrange that yourself and that any costs etc would be a matter purely between yourselves and any representative you employed. He states that he made no comment concerning the potential level of any such charges as he has no experience or knowledge of that subject (4).he stated that if i chose to appeal it would cost me in excess of £1500 court costs
On the matter of your request for further discussion to be tape-recorded,(they refused to let me use my own recording equipment) I can tell you that this is not a routine course of action in circumstances such as these, as at that stage of events there has been no arrest and no criminal charge has been made. However, where a person insists that an interview be tape-recorded officers will try to meet the request, on the understanding that any such recording is carried out using the department’s approved equipment and following the correct procedures. These are in line with the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (‘PACE’) and are in place to safeguard the interests of the interviewee and the department (for example, regarding the quality, integrity and evidential security of proceedings and tapes). I am told that the taped interview facility at Manchester Airport is located in Terminal 1, hence you were escorted there and seated in a private room adjacent to the baggage hall whilst the officer tried to secure access to the recording facilities.
Again, I do not have a record of the precise times but the officers tell me that after about 20 minutes, their efforts to gain access to the interview rooms with recording facilities had proved unsuccessful (5). Therefore, given the time that had passed already and without a clear indication of when the facilities would become available, you were advised at 14.20 that you could proceed without further action by HMRC. I have investigated a number of complaints including claims that the department’s officers have unreasonably delayed travellers. In my experience, it is not uncommon for HMRC’s enquiries following a challenge to take up to an hour. On this particular occasion, the officers also tried to meet your request for a taped interview and some time was incurred in trying to obtain the appropriate facilities for doing so. I regret the inconvenience to you, but I don’t consider the 70 minute period to be unreasonable given the circumstances. The senior officer tells me that at no time during the 20-minute period in Terminal 1 did you ask to use toilet facilities or whether any refreshment facilities were available.
I have indicated above – by using italics – what I see as differences between your account and that of the officers. When there are such different accounts of events, on grounds of natural justice I could only accept one version over the other if there was some sort of independent evidence to support it. To the best of my knowledge there is no such evidence in this case, so I am unable to conclude that we treated you improperly.
I realise of course that attention from the authorities will often be unwelcome, particularly after a journey back from a holiday. Officers are aware of this, and are expected to show proper professionalism and courtesy at all times. I consider the eventual decision not to require you to wait any longer was a reasonable one, and whilst I regret any feelings of intimidation or distress that you may have experienced, I am unable to conclude that the officers behaved improperly or unreasonably.
I hope I have answered your concerns satisfactorily, and that you will have no cause for complaint should you come into contact with HMRC in the future. If you are dissatisfied with this reply, however, you may ask for your complaint to be reviewed on behalf of the Director Complaints Service by writing to the Complaints Manager at this office. 
Yours sincerely
coffee machine
Complaints Officer


Last edited by warrior (18-2-2013 5:20 pm)

Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a sheep'


19-2-2013 2:36 am  #2


Coffee machine right enough. I'm sure they have a file in their computer with set paragraphs and just copy and paste depending on the complaint.


20-2-2013 7:25 pm  #3


My complaints response looks exactly the same, I'm surprised it wasn't signed by A. Officer lmfao


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