Parkinson's disease won't stop Northampton working men's club campaigner from fighting for £36k from taxman

Barry Slasberg outside Kingsley Park Working Men's Club
Barry Slasberg outside Kingsley Park Working Men's Club

Parkinson's disease will not stop a Northampton working men's club's former bookkeeper keep fighting for the taxman to pay the £36,000 he claims they are owed.

Barry Slasberg has been trying to get Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to give Kingsley Park Working Men's Club (WMC) back the money for years to no avail.

But the 72-year-old grandfather, of Fairway, Kingsley, refuses to back down even if the Government department refuses to engage with him anymore.

"The whole basis of this is lies. I'm not arguing the tax, I haven't got the brain to argue the tax, I haven't got the expertise," he said.

"But I know the truth when I see it and they know lies when they give them, and they've got to be exposed for the lies that they are.

"I'll have them even if it's the last thing I do."

In 2006, Mecca Bingo owners RANK Group led a legal suit against HMRC arguing fixed odds betting terminals (commonly known as fruit machines) should not have been subject to VAT - and won.

HMRC paid out to 3,000 businesses in 2011 and Kingsley Park WMC received around £34,000 in rebate, even though the Government appealed the overall decision.

Three years later HMRC argued the Court of Appeal had ruled in its favour and all the clubs who had received rebates were ordered to pay them back plus interest.

But Mr Slasberg claims this decision was wrong as the court did not back HMRC, instead staying the decision until a tribunal had heard the case, which actually ruled in the club's favour.

"I've been doing it for five years now since it came out in 2014. In June, I retired because I've got Parkinson's, my wife has had it for 10 years and now I've joined her," he said.

"But the one thing I did agree with the club is that I can continue chasing this up until I'm no longer able to and that I'm determined to do.

"I don't wish to blackmail them in any shape or form because of the fact that I'm ill, but this is such a matter of principle."

The last time Mr Slasberg met with anyone from HMRC was in April, 2018, when they admitted to him that the decisions to pay the businesses and then demand it back were made by management and not the courts.

He also says they offered to pay back the £2,000 interest if he dropped the case: "It that doesn't say they're worried, what does?

"So they were prepared to consider discussing breaking the law just to shut me up by giving the club £2,000 back.

"I turned it down. If that's not an indication of guilt, what is?"

Now HMRC will not take Mr Slasberg's calls or meet with him as they tell him they have already made up their minds so there is no point.

But having won two previous claims against the taxman, he will not give up any time soon.

"I do these silly things where people say, 'you don't stand a chance,' but perserverance does work but this one is proving difficult - I want to make it three out of three."

HMRC did not respond to a request for comment.