HM Revenue and Customs ... Veil of Secrecy

When you are stopped by Customs Officers because of the amount of tobacco you have brought back to the UK, they ask you a series of questions. Everytime we've been stopped and questioned, it has always been the same format. That format has always been loaded questions, and indeed trap questions, in order to have an excuse to confiscate your goods
But here's the thing, at the end of your interrogation interview (before the decision is made whether or not to confiscate your goods) the Customs Officer then writes down the questions they've asked and the answers you gave ... from their memory only. You have no input to this, you just sit and wait whilst they write it up. You are then asked to read it through and then sign it. Although you can make changes, this whole process puts you at a complete disadvantage if it ever comes to court.

Let me give you an example :-
                                          lf in the Customs Officers notes it says "Mr Shopper said 'X' " and when you read it through you say "l didn't say 'X', l said 'Y' " ... Customs Officer then writes an amendment at the end saying "Mr Shopper says he said 'Y' and not 'X' "  You may think that's fine but when in court and the Customs Officer is reading from his notes it will be put across as you said 'X' and then later on changed it to'Y'. This gives the impression to the court that you changed your mind and already puts doubts on whether what you say is reliable. Actually, a good HMRC lawyer will make you sound like a liar ... not good for you.

Whenever we've been stopped and questioned, we have made them write it out line by line. They write the question, then you answer and they then write down your answer and so on . lt takes a lot longer and l know you want to be out of there as soon as possible but if you want an accurate account ... you have to do it this way! Do not rely on their memory of the events under any circumstances ... period! Even when you do it this way ... check they wrote it down correctly.

Of course this would all be unnecessary if they recorded the damn interrogation interview but they simply won't do it! This is despite having requests from ourselves to record it and them already having the equipment to do it with. They put up all sorts of excuses ... they haven't got any recording equipment (they have to by law incase anyone is arrested for drugs etc), your interrogation interview is civil not criminal, the recording equipment is broken etc etc.

So you have to ask yourself why?. l mean, it would be an accurate account of the interrogation interview. There would be no relying on notebooks, memory etc that could lead to mis-representation. You'd not have to wait to get a transcript of their notebook if it went to court because you'd already have a copy of the actual recording of the interrogation interview and so would they. It would all be open and above board.

Oops, l've answered myself. How convienient, the only record of your ordeal is a notebook ... the Customs Officer's notebook. No transcript for you even if you get to keep your goods. You only get a transcript if you go to court and we've already seen how they reliable they are anyway. Customs definitelty don't want thousands of copies of recordings of interrogations interviews in the public domain. Customs can't have the public knowing how they treat EU shopper coming back to the UK, can they? Better to leave the complaints by the public as just unsubstantiated hearsay and keep:-

the Veil of Secrecy!

Note - l did once ask for a transcript of a notebook even though l hadn't had my goods confiscaed. The reply was the notebook had been lost! :)


  1. Taken from HMRC's Charter

    Your rights

    What you can expect from us:

    1. Respect you
    2. Help and support you to get things right
    3. Treat you as honest
    4. Treat you even-handedly
    5. Be professional and act with integrity

  2. Spartan ... You can expect it as much as you like but you won't get it! Danny's only asking for clarification but they aren't telling him anything ... just regurgitating their same vague website info like a stuck record.

    Remember he already had this info from HMRC's website and on there and it said if you wanted more info to contact them. He did and they sent him the exact same info they knew he already had. lt's pathetic!

  3. "So you have to ask yourself why?"

    Indeed. 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear' is, I believe, the recommended mantra... :D

  4. People should make their own notes. There is usually somebody with the person like a spouse or friend who could verify the conversation.

    If stopped I shall ask for the questioning to be written down by the customs and also take notes myself. So always carry a notebook and a pen when travelling to buy goods.

  5. Wouldn't it be better to have your phone or similar device 'accidentally' recording the conversation? Your own notes would have to signed by HMRC Officer to have any weight for appeal etc.


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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