HC Deb 08 November 1976 vol 919 cc66-7W
Mr. Ridley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set up an official inquiry into the circumstances of the night raid by VAT inspectors upon the home of Mr. James O'Brien, in June 1976, following which Mr. O'Brien's father-in-law committed suicide.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Mr. O'Brien's home was visited by Customs and Excise officers on 2nd March 1976. The visit was timed to coincide with a visit to Mr. O'Brien's business premises, a night club, at which staff were not present until 8 pm, and both visits started at that time. Both were authorised by a justice of the peace under Section 37(3) of the Finance Act 1972. Proceedings have now been instituted against Mr. O'Brien in respect of a VAT offence. This case is therefore nowsub judice.

At an inquest into the death of Mr. O'Brien's father-in-law in July 1976, Mr. O'Brien alleged that the VAT visit some four months earlier had been in some measure responsible. This allegation was not substantiated.

There is no reason to believe that the Customs and Excise officers involved in the visit to Mr. O'Brien's home acted other than properly and within their legal powers.