In 2012 HMRC’s then Permanent Secretary for Tax, Dave Hartnett, had an ‘off the record’ (but audio-recorded) meeting with two Times financial journalists, intended as a background briefing on tax avoidance. One topic of discussion was film investment schemes, designed to utilise tax relief for film production partnerships. Mr Hartnett made a number of comments about one agency, Ingenious Media, and its founder Patrick McKenna, including that Mr McKenna had “never left [Mr Hartnett’s] radar”, that “he’s a big risk”, that HMRC “would like to recover lots of the tax relief” from Ingenious’ schemes and that “we’ll clean up on film schemes over the next few years”. Continue reading
The question of what uses can properly be made of DNA data held by the police is an acutely sensitive one. In X and Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis and anor v Z (Children) and anor EWCA Civ 34, the Court of Appeal has held that, where such data is obtained by police in exercise of their search and seizure powers under Part II of PACE 1984, it may be retained and used only for the purposes of criminal law enforcement function. Thus, such data cannot be used, for example, in order to resolve issues of paternity in care proceedings before the family court.
The background to the appeal was that X had murdered his partner Y. In the context of care proceedings involving Y’s children, an issue had arisen as to whether X was in fact the biological father of the children. X, despite asserting that he was the children’s biological father, had refused to undergo DNA testing. In response to this refusal, the children’s guardian applied to the court for disclosure of certain DNA profiles held by the Metropolitan Police Service, particularly on the basis that those profiles could then be used to resolve the paternity issue. X objected to the disclosure. Importantly, the DNA profiles in issue had been derived from blood swabs taken by the police from the scene of the murder by the MPS under Part II PACE. It was common ground that the court could not order disclosure of those DNA profiles held by the police in exercise of their powers under Part V PACE (samples taken directly from persons). This was because there is a statutory prohibition contained in Part V of PACE which expressly prohibited the use of such materials other than for the purposes of criminal law enforcement. Munby P, who decided the case at first instance, concluded that the court had a discretion to order disclosure of the Part II DNA profiles and that the disclosure was justified, particularly in view of the Article 8 rights of the children. The MPS appealed, alongside the putative father. The Secretary of State appeared as intervenor.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. It did so on the basis that the President’s approach could not be reconciled with the statutory scheme embodied in PACE, particularly when that scheme was read in a purposive manner and having regard to the Article 8 rights of those individuals whose DNA profiles were held by the police. In reaching this conclusion, the Court relied heavily on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Marper, which itself highlighted the need for substantial controls around the handling of DNA data by the police.