This was bound to be an interesting event when Ruth Wishart who was in the Chair found that she had left her glasses elsewhere! However, she performed really well under this handicap and conducted the session impeccably.
The first book by Richard Murphy, "Dirty Secrets" looks at the situation where the establishment allows - or appears to allow - tax havens to operate seemingly free from control.
Richard Murphy, when asked by Ruth Wishart if he considered these tax evaders as criminals, said that he did as they were defrauding Britain and leaving the burden of taxation on the rest of us. He felt strongly that there was a tax "time bomb" hanging over us which would only be rectified when all those who legally avoided tax were made to pay their rightful share. But at present for many who worked for tax accountants they simply accepted the situation - "their eyes glazed over" at the thought of any alleged social or financial consequences.
Connor Woodman said that in researching his book "Sharks" he had to mix with a lot of "bad people", from those who were of the "Godfather" variety, to street criminals including common pickpockets to rapists.
Woodman said that some of these people made the claim that they performed a sort of "Robin Hood" operation - stealing from the rich and then giving to the poor. Richard Murphy agreed and said that in many ways this was supported by a system that permitted legal tax evasion. He said that in his view the European Union (EU) had done very much more to combat tax evasion than the UK Government. (This was difficult to believe as the EU had failed to submit audited accounts for many, many years.) However, he maintained his stance on this aspect.
This was an interesting session but it is a pity that there were not many more questions for Connor Woodman as the audience had no real chance to explore his experience or the content of his book, "Sharks".