It was reported over the weekend by ITV Granada that Jeff Brown, the man who fronted Safestyle UK’s infamous BOGOF TV adverts, is to face an eye watering £53,498 fine after being found guilty of tax evasion. If he doesn’t pay, he can expect to spend time in prison.

£350k over six years

The story on ITV’s website says that over a six year period in which he worked for Safestyle UK and was a match day host for Burnley FC, he earned a total of £350,000. No tax returns were filed for those sums however.

Read the full ITV Granada story here

It is reported that he did in fact please guilty earlier on in the year to six counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax. He was given a 20 month jail term suspended for two years. He now has to pay his £53,000 fine within three months or face 12 months in jail.

The story continues:

Jeremy Lasker, prosecuting, told the court:

There’s no doubt this defendant lived his life with cash. That was one of the problems.

We have had to arrive at an appropriate benefit figure arising out of the defendants pleas to these offences.

Initially the Crown were prepared to give to the defendant the benefit of 10 per cent worth of deductible expenses. The defence position was around about 30 per cent. We have come to a compromise.

The figure was £50,000 to which we have added a figure for the notional change of value since then, that’s £3,498, which brings the total benefit figure to £53,498. The realisable assets more than exceed that.

– Jeremy Lasker, prosecuting

Mr Lasker told they court that they ‘understand’ that HMRC do not intend to pursue a tax assessment against Brown for the lost tax.

Timothy Brennand, defending, said Brown, of Prairie Crescent, Burnley, has ‘now got his finances in order’ by employing an accountant and a book keeper.

Recorder Mark Brown said it is an ‘eminently appropriate resolution of this particular case’.

Officers from HMRC raided Brown’s home in February last year and found ‘bundles of cash’ of up to £15,000 hidden inside a bedroom wardrobe, an earlier hearing was told.

The court had heard that Brown had no employment contract with Safestyle but was given commission payments of £333,179 for canvassing and motivational work.

He was also paid nearly £11,000 for freelance work at Burnley FC as a match day room host and was paid either cash or cheque for 110 home matches.

It looks like he will avoid prison and pay the fine.

A lesson to be learned

This case is a prime example of how not to conduct your personal business. We live in an age where the authorities are under increasing pressure to root out the worst cases of tax evaders and put that money back in to the public purse. Cases like this are going to be prime hunting for HMRC and others, and the chances of getting away with it are getting smaller all the time.

As for any negative press for Safestyle, there is bound to be some. But Mr Brown hasn’t been a part of their TV advertising campaigns for a while now. The company has embarked on a modernised TV campaign, refreshing all of their adverts, however they have continued to stick to their massive discount tactic.

The share price of Safestyle UK has continued to perform strongly after suffering a steep summer dip.

Credit: Bloomberg

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