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Bafta-nominated Gospel Oak film producer jailed over £2.2m tax scam is ordered to repay £100,000

PUBLISHED: 16:31 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:56 22 February 2017

Christopher Atkins                Picture: HMRC

Christopher Atkins Picture: HMRC

Archant

A film producer from Gospel Oak who was jailed for five years after spinning a “web of lies” to get taxpayer funding for a Bafta-nominated film has been ordered to repay more than £100,000.

Christina Slater                 Picture: HMRCChristina Slater Picture: HMRC

Christopher Walsh Atkins, 40, formerly of Barrington Court in Gospel Oak, was convicted in July of two counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and one of fraud alongside Christina Slater, 37, of Copps Road in Leamington Spa.

Fellow producer Terence Potter, 55, was also jailed for eight years in December 2015 for his role in the £2.2million scam.

The duo was caught taking advantage of a government scheme to support British films known as “sideways relief”, which was was launched by then-chancellor Gordon Brown in 1997 to promote the British film industry, allowing investors to claim back 40 per cent of the company’s losses from their PAYE tax.

Atkins and Slater vastly inflated invoice costs to ensure they received investment for their production Starsuckers, described as a “critique of the rise of the celebrity culture”.

Atkins – a former public schoolboy who gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards – made the documentary in 2009.

He also wrote and directed UKIP: The First 100 Days for Channel 4 in 2015, a fantastical look at a potential UKIP prime ministership.

Atkins and Slater faced a confiscation hearing today at Southwark Crown Court where they were ordered to repay £201,764 within three months or face a further two years each in prison.

The pair still have more than £600,000 of available assets between them and will have to pay just over £100,000 each towards the sum.

They were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £108,908.50 and £46,158 respectively.

Judge Martin Beddoe said: “Provided you [Mr Atkins] and Miss Slater pay half of the overall sum in benefit, just over £100,000, you will hear no more about it.”

The fraud trial heard how the pair had allowed others to wrongly claim tax breaks.

He said: “These defendants and others essentially created a web of lies to assist others not here to obtain tax relief to which they were not entitled.

“They did this because this was the way they obtained funding for the film ventures they engaged in.

“That came first, that was what mattered to them and it was more important than if the taxpayer in this country effectively lost money.”

The pair inflated invoice costs to make it appear as though losses had been incurred by two Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) created by Potter, who was also a chartered accountant.

“Investors in those LLPs could use those losses to reduce their tax bills,” the prosecutor continued.

“Those investors provided the money that would be used in part to pay for the film [Atkins] and Slater produced and another project.

They used Film Tax Credit to claim back inflated cash from the Treasury.

The pair have also been disqualified from being company directors for 12 years.

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