Fans demand inquiry into tax 'witch hunt'

FURIOUS Rangers fans have demanded a government inquiry into a so-called "witch hunt" over its tax affairs.

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Lord Doherty referred issues to original panel
Lord Doherty referred issues to original panel

It came after HM Revenue and Customs lost its £50million court battle over Rangers' use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) - the so-called "Big Tax Case"

The upper tier (UTT) judge Lord Doherty dismissed the appeal against a first-tier tax tribunal (FTT), although he has referred several issues back to the original panel.

The tax authority had argued that payments made to players and other employees should be taxable. But the Murray Group, which formerly owned Rangers, argued they were loans.

Murray International Holdings (MIH) held Sir David's majority stake in Rangers until he sold out for a nominal £1 to Craig Whyte in May 2011.

In a statement, the Union of Fans called for the pursuit of a "phantom tax debt" by HMRC to be pursued at the "highest level of government".

And it said that it would be examining how it could hold people to account for "the wrongs done to Rangers" through the courts.

The UoF said it would liaise with oldco share-holders and all other interested parties "to see what civil action can be taken against HMRC and the Scottish Football Association in particular".

It said: "HMRC's baseless witch hunt kicked off a chain of events which has done huge damage to Rangers and which the club has done well to survive.

"Various parties have since taken advantage of that witch hunt to benefit personally or to further twist the knife due to their own bigotry and jealousy of our club.

"Rangers' fans have suffered greatly over the past four years. We deserve answers on why this was done to our club, we deserve the most robust action possible to be taken against the perpetrators and we deserve every assistance in returning our club to its hard and honestly earned position as the pre-eminent club in Scottish football."

In a statement, a spokesman for MIH expressed satisfaction with the ruling but said there were no winners.

He said: "We are pleased with the judgment which again leaves negligible tax liability and overwhelm-ingly supports the views collectively and consis-tently held by our advisers, legal counsel and MIH itself. We will therefore review the detailed content of the decision to ascertain what action, if any, is now required by MIH.

"The decision substan-tially reduces HMRC's claim in the liquidation of the old Rangers Football Club.

"While we have been successful in both the FTT and UTT, there are, as we have stated previously, no victors.

"This has been an exceptionally long, difficult and expensive process."

If there is yet another appeal the case would go to the Supreme Court - a process which could take years rather than months.

Furious Rangers fans see the case as the catalyst that led to the disastrous eventual sale of the club to disgraced former owner Whyte, the holding company's fall into liquidation and the team's demotion to the lowest rung of the Scottish football league ladder.

They said it was made clear to the Scottish football authorities, and their legal advisers that the club was being unfairly punished, "but various vested interests were determined to take advantage of the situation and do as much damage to the club as possible".

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