Richard Hillgrove escapes contempt of court after 'evil tax man' campaign

Richard Hillgrove, the PR agency boss who was recently convicted of two counts of tax evasion, will not now face additional charges of contempt of court.

PR Guru vs The Evil Tax Man: Detail from posters put up by Hillgrove
PR Guru vs The Evil Tax Man: Detail from posters put up by Hillgrove

He has received written confirmation from the Attorney General’s office that although there was sufficient evidence to bring charges, a prosecution would not be in the public interest.
 
The chief executive of Hillgrove PR was originally accused of failing to pay £93,000 in VAT and PAYE in 2010 and 2011.

The trial started last July but was aborted by the judge, who imposed reporting restrictions on the case so that new jurors could not be influenced by subsequent publicity.
 
Hillgrove then created a website and put up hundreds of posters (see below) around Bristol to publicise the hearing. They were drawn in the style of Indiana Jones film posters, with the headline ‘The PR Guru vs The Evil Tax Man’.
 
In February he took them down after the Crown Prosecution Service wrote warning him of possible contempt charges.

He was found guilty of two charges of cheating the public purse in March. He was given a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay £5,000 prosecution costs and do 200 hours of unpaid work. Hillgrove is appealing the guilty verdict.

On 25 June the Attorney General’s Office wrote to him saying: "Although the Solicitor (General) considered that there is likely to be sufficient evidence to bring proceedings against you, he has concluded that the public interest does not favour doing so."
 
Hillgrove said he was relieved at the Attorney General’s decision: "I regret that I breached court rules in the heat of the moment. I can now focus properly on rebuilding my business."

He said that as a result of the case, Hillgrove PR would be rebranding in September.

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