EXCISE DUTIES — 216 kg of hand-rolling tobacco allegedly purchased as gifts to reward large group of relatives and friends for standing by appellant during his grave illness — tobacco sought to be imported to UK as for "own use" — evidence demonstrating commercial importation — Customs and reviewing officer justifiably concluding that excise goods properly seized — appeal dismissed
MANCHESTER TRIBUNAL CENTRE
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THE COMMISSIONERS OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
Tribunal: Mr M S Johnson (Chairman)
Mr R Presho
Sitting in public in York on 20 September 2002
The Appellant appeared in person
Mr J Puzey, of counsel instructed by the Solicitor for the Customs and Excise for the Respondents
© CROWN COPYRIGHT 2002
216 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco;
Named Person Description of Person
Jackie Beighton The Appellant's partner
Nicola Beighton Her daughter
Tracy Beighton Also her daughter
Kevin Bligh Tracy's partner
Lee Wragg Son of the Appellant
Adèle Wragg Daughter of the Appellant
Trevor Wragg Brother of the Appellant
Bryan Wragg Another brother of the Appellant
Josie Wragg Sister of the Appellant
David Loy Her partner
Mark Wragg Another son of the Appellant
Sarah Loy Daughter of the Appellant's sister
Carla Loy Another daughter of the sister
Chris Wragg Son of the Appellant's brother
Emma Wragg Daughter of the Appellant's brother
Gunter Bergmart Adèle's partner
Ann Wragg Trevor's wife
Steve Scott Friend of the Appellant
David Green Another friend of the Appellant
Jamie Smith Another friend of the Appellant
Chris Hunt Jackie's brother
Diane Hunt His wife
Anna Lee's partner
Sheila Wragg Bryan's wife
plus "4 neighbours who were very good to me at the time".
10.1 The Appellant stating to Customs that he smoked hand-rolling tobacco - "Golden Virginia" - and that a pouch lasted him just under 2 weeks. The Appellant told the tribunal that he never smoked hand-rolling tobacco.
10.2 His stating that he earned roughly £300 a week, and had savings of about £1500, which he had used for the trip. We are satisfied from what the Appellant told us that his income and savings from his business were much greater than those figures.
10.3 His stating that he had spent £8000 on the goods, towards which members of his family were contributing £1000 each. To the tribunal, the Appellant maintained that none of his family or friends would be paying for any of the tobacco; but no satisfactory explanation of the record of £1000 contributions was forthcoming, and we do not think that that figure can have been invented.
10.4 Moreover the £1000 contributions figured in two separate places in the record of questions and answers: once in connection with the composition of the £8000, and then again at the end of the interview, viz
"Q. Have your family members given you a £1000 each before you travelled?
"A. No, I was going to give it to them [referring apparently to the tobacco] and then they give it to me [referring apparently to the contributions]".
10.5 The fact that, immediately after that last answer, the Appellant signed the record, "I agree with the above", as he accepts. For that reason it beggars belief that he did not accept the truth of the record. So far as this tribunal is concerned, he cannot be heard to say that he did not accept the record, for the purpose of the exercise by Customs of their duty on that occasion.
17.1 that there was nothing before the reviewing officer of Customs, Mr Devlin, or which might or should have been before him, corresponding to the case now put forward by the Appellant;
17.2 that it was reasonable for the reviewing officer to find, on the basis of the signed interview records, and any other information that might or should have been available to him, that the importation was not for "own use" and had about it the hallmarks of commerciality;
17.3 that the officers of Customs at the port did nor err in their application of the criteria in Article 5(2) of the PRO;
17.4 that the attempted importation on its face fell within Article 9(1) of the Excise Directive; and
17.5 that the seizure was justified on the evidence and that the reviewing officer correctly so found.
M S JOHNSON
RELEASE DATE: 11October 2002