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Hartnett’s future ‘in doubt’ as NAO steps up investigation

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MPs are set to consider whether to ‘formally call’ for Dave Hartnett to step down as HMRC’s top tax official over his handling of disputes with large companies, The Times has reported.

The Chancellor’s office said last night that George Osborne had ‘full confidence’ in Hartnett, Sam Coates, the paper’s deputy political editor, wrote.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, asked Hartnett on Monday whether he had considered his position, given ‘the sort of coverage there has been’ of tax settlements with Goldman Sachs and Vodafone.

MPs have been frustrated by Hartnett’s refusal to answer detailed questions on the grounds of taxpayer confidentiality.

‘Have you considered resigning, or do you feel that you still have the confidence of Parliament?’ she asked.

Hartnett replied: ‘I have thought very hard about both those issues. I have read just about everything that has been written about them. It is incomplete. I have work to do and I have no plans to resign.’

The Times reported that the National Audit Office was now understood to be hiring senior judges to investigate whether tax disputes were properly handled, and that the PAC would report before Christmas.