PR man Richard Hillgrove escapes custodial sentence for tax fraud

Hillgrove PR chief executive Richard Hillgrove escaped a custodial sentence today after being found guilty of two charges of cheating the public purse.

Richard Hillgrove: "I’m relieved not be sentenced to be shut away"
Richard Hillgrove: "I’m relieved not be sentenced to be shut away"

Hillgrove, 42, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court to 15 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years on each count. In addition he was ordered to do 200 hours' community service and pay £5,000 in costs.
 
In March he was found guilty of failing to pay HMRC £52,268 in VAT between 2011 and 2012 and failing to pay £44,846 in PAYE relating to his business over the same period.
 
He was accused of squandering money on exclusive hotels, fine restaurants and school fees for his children instead of paying taxes. Hillgrove denied the charges.
 
The PR man, who represented himself for most of the trial, said he planned to appeal against the guilty verdict.

He also still faces the possibility of contempt of court charges being made against him by the Crown Prosecution Service after he wrote a blog about the case, when the judge had ruled that there was to be no reporting during a gap in the proceedings.
 
Hillgrove said today: "This was a disproportionate response to late filing of a VAT return. But I felt the judge’s decision was fair. I’m relieved not be sentenced to be shut away. A custodial sentence would have been bad for business and would have made it impossible to pay back the tax arrears."
 
He added: "Multinationals simply have to repay tax without a criminal prosecution. I wonder why smaller businesses don’t get the same treatment?"

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