Appeal overturns tax evasion jailing

Two men jailed for their part in a £6 million drinks scam have had their convictions quashed on appeal.

William Potter and John Heppenstall, both from Calderdale, West Yorkshire, had been found guilty before Kingston upon Hull Crown Court of evading £6 million in VAT and excise duty. They were jailed for two and three years respectively.

The court heard that using their connections in the haulage industry, the men had taken spirits intended for export and sold them domestically in the UK.

But the

Court of

Appeal overturned the verdict saying that the trial - which

went on for 11 months - had lasted far too long and that the judge's summing up

had not done justice to the men's defence.

A third man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also had his conviction overturned, but was ordered to face a retrial.

HMRC arrested four men and seized more than 150

pallets of alcohol in an anti-fraud operation in Bolton last month. The estimated duty and VAT fraud evaded is more than £140,000. HMRC officers, backed by police, raided premises on an industrial unit. The haul included well-known beer brands Carlsberg Special Brew and Red Stripe.