Hartnett gave evidence to Parliament recently. Did he confess his errors? Not quite.
By 'official', we should understand 'David Hartnett', not that he was about to admit it: he did secretive, personal deals with these companies, in breach of the law. Most startling was this nugget:
Hartnett refused to explain exactly what went wrong, how much tax may have been lost or confirm which companies may have escaped their full tax commitments. "…Mr Hartnett has refused even to indicate whether interest was paid by Vodafone on the tax due, despite confirming that it is an offence not to pay interest on tax owing… At present MPs can be briefed in confidence by the intelligence services, yet cannot find out any details of improper private tax deals done by the taxman. Even Treasury ministers are left in the dark."
So our elected representatives can compel spies to spill the beans, but the tax service doesn't even have to tell the Treasury what deals it cuts, let alone MPs or - god forbid - the citizenry. Banana, anyone?