Prosecution by Alistair MacDonald QC and Nick de la Poer listed in HMRC’s Top 10 cases of 2018

Between January and March 2018 Alistair MacDonald QC and Nick de la Poer prosecuted Operation Backbar, an investigation by HMRC which spanned nearly 6 years into the business affairs of Jason Butler. The case focussed on Multi Level Media Ltd, a company ostensibly based in Leeds, but which apparently had trading relationships with the Big 9 data firms.

Through a complex chain of companies, Mr Butler controlled a series of transactions which purported to trade high value data leads from West Yorkshire to India, via Gibraltar. In fact, the “data leads” had not originated from the Big 9 and the invoices which supported the transactions were false.

The scheme enabled Mr Butler to defraud HMRC of nearly £10 million over the course of 4 years.

The prosecution case relied upon a reconstruction of banking evidence, much of which was obtained from abroad. This reconstruction was complicated by the fact that a number of international financial institutions refused to co-operate and Mr Butler claimed not to have any control over those accounts.

Also deployed at trial was a large body of electronically stored evidence, downloaded from a number of devices and the Cloud by the investigators. Given that Mr Butler had impersonated more than one person in order to perpetrate the fraud, it was necessary to demonstrate through expert evidence how and why data would appear on devices associated with him, as well as to exclude his claimed innocent reasons for such material or the footprint of such material being present on his laptop and/or mobile telephone.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury unanimously convicted Mr Butler. He was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.

The case is the third largest, in terms of fraudulently obtained tax revenue, on the HMRC’s list:

Reports of the case can be found here:

Alistair MacDonald QC
Call 1983
QC 2000

Nicholas de la Poer QC
Call 2003
QC 2020

31st Dec 2018








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