Monday, November 14, 2011
'Lack of Tax Trust' Award of the Week - The Public Accounts Committee
I was surprised and disappointed to note that the Public Accounts Committee felt it necessary to break with tradition when interviewing Anthony Inglese last week. (As reported by the BBC).
Mr Inglese has been Head Lawyer at the Office of Fair Trading in 1991; then Head Lawyer at the Ministry of Defence in 1995; and in 1997 he was appointed Deputy Treasury Solicitor. He joined HMRC in 2008 and is said to be their 'top lawyer'. He leads on Professionalism and Ethics for the Government Legal Service and is a member of the Bar Standards Board. He also gives training at the National School of Government.
Despite Mr Inglese's credentials the Public Accounts Committee, last week, asked him to swear an oath on a Bible to tell the truth. This is not standard practice. I understand that nobody had been asked to swear an oath by a parliamentary committee for more than a decade.
Why did the Committee feel the need to do so on this occasion? Does it reflect worse on them or on Mr Inglese? Perhaps it was the only way to get the Committee to believe the truth. I tend to think that everyone giving evidence before such committees should be placed under oath.
But for now, I am confused as to why they picked on a Revenue official when even James Murdoch hasn't been asked to swear an oath when appearing before a select committee. So, for their heavy-handed approach I give the Public Accounts Committee the Lack of Tax Trust award of the week.