writes Tom Seaward

A FARMER has been found guilty of fraudulently claiming VAT.

Anthony Page, 63, of Clivey Barn Farm, Dilton Marsh, had denied producing false VAT returns with intent to deceive the tax man and three counts of fraud.

But, after a week-long trial at Swindon Crown Court, a jury took five hours and six minutes to unanimously convict Page of wrongly claiming VAT relief. He was found guilty on majority verdicts of two counts of fraud by false representation. The jury found Page not guilty on a charge of supplying an article for use in a fraud by falsifying an invoice in order to support a fraudulent VAT claim.

Between 2008 and 2014, Page claimed the VAT on scores of invoices for products and services for which no tax was payable – including the purchase of cattle. The HMRC and defence counsel put the value of the fraud at between half-a-million pounds and under £100,000 respectively.

Judge Jason Taylor QC bailed Page ahead of the sentencing hearing, which is likely to be in December.

He told the farmer: “You have to understand that not withstanding your age and your previous good character you are at real risk of a custodial sentence.”

Originally published in the Swindon Advertiser

READ MORE: Fraudsters that targeted vulnerable farmers sentenced at Exeter Crown Court