Minister in tax evasion inquiry

A GOVERNMENT minister has been investigated for suspected tax evasion by the Inland Revenue, according to the man who headed the inquiry into the tax affairs of Asil Nadir.

Michael Allcock, the former head of the Inland Revenue's elite investigations unit, SO2, claims that while pursuing Nadir, he was also investigating a Tory minister suspected of using offshore companies to avoid tax. During an interview to be broadcast tonight in a World in Action documentary, Mr Allcock refuses to identify the minister. 'I am still a civil servant and it is quite improper for me to talk about individual cases,' he said. Mr Allcock is currently suspended from duty. He was arrested last month in connection with alleged bribery in a separate case. He has not been charged.

Mr Allcock was responsible for initiating the investigation into Asil Nadir. The Turkish Cypriot, who fled charges of theft and false accounting involving more than pounds 30m in May, holds him responsible for the downfall of Polly Peck. He claims that Mr Allcock pursued a vendetta against him and manufactured evidence.

It was disclosed last month that Coopers & Lybrand, the accountants looking after Nadir's private tax affairs, wrote to the chairman of the Inland Revenue Board accusing Mr Allcock of 'irregularities' in his investigation. The firm warned that unless these stopped, it would suspend routine co-operation with the tax authorities.

Mr Allcock denies any vendetta and sources close to his investigation have claimed that he was raising hackles because he was being effective.

It is understood that he had asked for a raid on Coopers & Lybrand, which would have seriously damaged the firm's credibility, in order to secure documents that were allegedly not forthcoming.

Mr Allcock admits that he passed on to the Stock Exchange the results of his investigation into offshore tax avoidance by Polly Peck. This was in breach of strict codes of confidentiality that prohibit Inland Revenue investigators making details of their research available to other bodies.

Michael Mates, the Northern Ireland minister who resigned after borrowing a car in breach of ministerial rules from PR consultants acting for Nadir, tells the programme that he was mistaken in suggesting that Mr Allcock had attempted to 'flee' from justice. Mr Mates made the allegation in a letter to the Attorney-General.

He now says that the 'misinformation' was given to him by Nadir's lawyers and that he accepted it without making independent inquiries.