Newcastle United lose legal challenge over tax raids

Newcastle United has lost a High Court challenge over the seizure of documents by tax officials probing the finances of several football clubs.

St James' Park and West Ham's London Stadium were raided in April by HM Revenue and Customs as part of a £5m National Insurance fraud investigation.

The club challenged the legality of the search-and-seizure orders, but judges ruled they were "lawfully issued".

It said the ruling was "disappointing" and it was considering its options.

Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley was among several men arrested and later released without charge.

Business and financial records were seized, as well as computers and mobile phones belonging to the club, which recently secured promotion back to the Premier League.

The HMRC investigation centres on football agents and payments made in transfer dealings between English and French clubs.

'Considering options'

Announcing the decision to dismiss the club's application for judicial review, Lord Justice Beatson said the "warrants were lawfully issued".

At a hearing in July, the judges heard argument on behalf of the club that no reasonable grounds existed for believing it had engaged in suspected tax fraud.

But HMRC argued in court that reasonable grounds existed for believing Newcastle United was ''knowingly involved'' in a multimillion-pound tax fraud when club offices were raided.

Court orders have so far prevented HMRC officers from examining the seized material pending the outcome of the legal action.

A spokesman for HMRC said: "We are very pleased with the court's decision which we are studying in detail. We do not comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations."

Newcastle United said in a statement: "We are disappointed with this decision given the court's findings.

"We are considering all of our options with our advisers, including whether to pursue an appeal."

Source: BBC NEWS