Greg Wright: A daughter's compelling testimony about the loan charge scandal

I wish I’d had the privilege of meeting Gayle’s dad.

The All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group (APPG) argues that the charge is retrospective and overrides taxpayer protections.

He was a kind, loving father who was adored by his family. But, in the final months of his life, he felt consumed by shame, despite being a model citizen who would never dream of trying to avoid his responsibilities as a tax payer.

He took his own life almost a year ago. He was a consultant engineer in his late sixties, who had been informed that he faced the loan charge, and an unexpected bill of around £50,000.

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His daughter is now calling on Sir Amyas Morse to recommend that the Government scraps the loan charge, a policy which critics say breaches the rule of law and has been linked with seven suicides.

Gayle told me her story because she wants the world to know about the terrible impact of the loan charge.

Opponents of the loan charge argue that it is retrospective and overrides taxpayer protections - claims which have previously been disputed by the Treasury.

Gayle said: “They should treat people as human beings and not label them as tax avoiders. Many, many people did not go in with the intention of avoiding tax. They took professional advice. My dad always took advice and he trusted them.I hope nothing like this ever happens again.”

She said her dad would not have been considered vulnerable, because he had no history of mental health problems.

Given the sheer volume of people who were going to be affected by the loan charge. Gayle is surprised that a wider assessment about the potential impact was not made.

She added: “Once you scratch the surface. you see the real impact and real stories.

“The main reason we made a statement to the Loan Charge APPG was to help others. We will never get dad back. You can’t take away what he went through but lessons can be learned.

Gayle recalled: “Sitting in front of a room full of people I didn’t know was one of the hardest things I have done. I thought at the time, ‘This is it. This will make them see what the loan charge is causing.

“Dad didn’t fully tell us what was going on. He just tried to deal with it on his own because he was ashamed.

“He had nothing to be ashamed about. He did nothing illegal. He felt like a criminal.”

She has a simple message for Sir Amyas Morse, who is leading the review into the loan charge: “I would like him to put an immediate stop to the loan charge.

“I just want him to stop everyone’s suffering. I just want him to see what is really going on and also for him to say that he wants them to learn and this will not happen again.”

She also believes that people who settled with HMRC “under a panic” should get their money back.

She said: “Dad wanted to pay it. I think they should get that back and be supported after what they have been through.”

An HMRC spokesperson said: “We know that large tax assessments can cause worry and anxiety so we have put in place dedicated resources, including specially trained HMRC officers, to support more vulnerable customers.

“We have also set up a disguised remuneration helpline, which can provide details of organisations such as the Samaritans and Mind as appropriate, and we are committed to time to pay arrangements in respect of the loan charge which can run for as long as the taxpayer needs.

“We are committed to treating everyone we serve with respect and sensitivity to their needs and circumstances.”

Gayle is still worried about the long term impact on everyone affected by the loan charge.

“This is going to affect people for the rest of their lives.,’’ she said. “You have families that have lost their loved ones. Mental health issues don’t just go away.

“That’s a really big concern of mine. I see people at protests and it looks like it’s broken them.

“They are still very lovely but they are just broken, just like dad was. They have to rebuild their lives after this and it does consume you. I really want everyone that has been affected to get help if they need it.

“It’s like a loan charge family. Everyone is trying to keep each other going. But it doesn’t feel like it is ending.”