§ Mr. Trotter
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many VAT officials entered the private living accommodation of the tenant of the Black Cap public house in Camden Town in order to carry out a VAT search; to what extent they searched diaries, handbags and other personal effects of those on the premises; whether the search was carried out in accordance with the Department's normal rules and, if so, whether he will amend the rules.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon,
pursuant to his reply [Official Report 29th April 1976; Vol. 910, c. 188], gave the following answer:
Four officers of Customs and Excise searched the public house on 13th April 1976. They were assisted to some extent by two other officers who were already present on the premises by appointment to make a VAT control visit. One further officer was brought in when it became necessary to take stock at the premises, but he did not join in the search.
The premises consist in all of four floors and a cellar, and documents concerning the business and a substantial quantity of stock were stored in certain of the rooms primarily intended for private use. Diaries, handbags and other items of a personal nature were examined, but only superficially to ensure that they 318W contained nothing of relevance to the business. The search was carried out in accordance with departmental rules and under the authority of a search warrant issued by a justice of the peace under Section 37(3) of the Finance Act 1972.
Subsequently, on 27th April, a further visit was made by two officers to pursue some excise duty questions in regard to the stock at the public house. They found it necessary to seek help from the police, and the tenant was subsequently arrested and charged with obstructing the police in the course of their duty. He was also charged with similarly obstructing the Customs officer. He appeared in court on 28th April and was then remanded on bail.