A BARRISTER who specialises in cases of crime and serious fraud has been jailed for 18 months - for tax fraud.

Chester-based Peter Moss, 61, from Hawarden, failed to submit VAT or self-assessment returns which resulted in a loss to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of £138,500.

He claimed he did not know it was illegal not to pay the tax he owed, and settled his debts according to “whoever shouts the loudest”.

HMRC found that the lawyer had been registered as a sole trader since 1985 and, despite visits from officers in the past, failed to submit 26 VAT returns.

Additionally, Moss did not submit any self-assessment tax returns to HMRC after 1999.

Paul Maybury, assistant director for the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “There is no doubt Moss was aware of his responsibilities as he had received previous warnings.

"He was abusing the tax system and depriving public services of vital funding to give himself an unfair advantage over his honest competitors.

"HMRC is levelling the playing field for legitimate businesses and making sure that crime doesn’t pay.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, it affects us all and I would ask anyone with information about people who may be involved to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Ben Reid, a specialist prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Specialist Fraud Division, said: “Peter Moss knew what was expected of him, having been registered as a sole trader since 1985, but still ignored the rules to avoid paying tax.

“The CPS worked closely with HMRC to prosecute this fraud and although Moss denied the offences, evidence presented in court saw him convicted.”

Moss, when interviewed, admitted knowing that he should have submitted VAT and self-assessment returns but said he did not know it was an offence not to do so.

He claimed he was in debt to a number of people and responded to "whoever shouts the loudest".

During his professional career Moss mainly defended criminals, earning in excess of £600,000 between 2008 and 2016.

Although he had previously entered a voluntary agreement to declare his earnings and fulfil his tax paying responsibilities, he still did not pay any tax or National Insurance contributions.

Moss was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax and being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Peter Moss is based at Linenhall Chambers in Chester city centre.

His introductory website states: "Whilst Peter now predominantly practices in crime he is, at heart, a general common lawyer who is more interested in the facts of any given case than its discipline.

"In crime he is a Category 4 prosecutor and is perceived as having particular expertise in serious fraud and regulatory offences.

"He otherwise has great experience in every imaginable type of criminal case (both for the prosecution and the defence).

"He otherwise has a history of practice in what is now regarded as 'Human Rights' work having successfully conducted a number of claims against the police and other organs of the state."