Steven Taylor and Robert Wood were members of a conspiracy to import counterfeit cigarettes without payment of excise duty. Both used their legitimate logistics and freight forwarding businesses to give instructions to an unsuspecting road haulier to bring the cigarettes (concealed within pallet loads of tea towels and described as textiles in the documentation) from Belgium to the United Kingdom. Revenue and Customs officers had got wind of the conspiracy and intercepted the load at the delivery point. A number of the conspirators were convicted of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and subjected to confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Dismissing Taylor and Wood’s appeals, the Court of Appeal rejected their challenge to the excise duty regulations as being incompatible with the Act of Parliament under which they were made and with the relevant EU Directive and held that they had obtained a benefit from their criminal conduct by evading duty that they were liable to pay. The Court also rejected their argument that the confiscation orders were disproportionate and contrary to the Human Rights Act on the grounds that other members of the conspiracy had been liable to pay the duty as well.
Nicholas Paines QC acted for the Crown Prosecution Service in the appeal.
Click here to read the full Taylor & Wood v Regina judgment