RSTP9003 - Consequences of wrongful disclosure of PTI

RSTPA guidance on the consequences of wrongful disclosure of protected taxpayer information.

A relevant official commits a criminal offence if they wrongfully disclose PTI (see RSTP9002). A person who commits such an offence is liable:

  • on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term up to 12 months and/or a fine not exceeding £10,000 (the statutory maximum); or
  • on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term up to 2 years and/or an unlimited fine.

It is a defence for a person charged with such an offence to show that they reasonably believed that the disclosure was lawful or that the information disclosed had already lawfully been made public. A disclosure can lawfully be made by a relevant official under RSTP9004, RSTP9005 or RSTP9006, read with RSTP9007.

RSTPA 2014 section 19

Wrongful disclosure of PTI would also be a serious disciplinary matter for the relevant official concerned. Depending on the circumstances we may pursue other remedies such as dismissal and for civil proceedings for breach of confidence.

In certain circumstances information that is not PTI must also be protected by relevant officials. Examples include personal data that is not tax-related (see our Privacy Policy in this regard), commercially confidential information and Budget-sensitive information. Whilst the specific criminal offence does not apply to such information, disciplinary or other civil remedies would apply.

Persons other than relevant officials, for example members of the public or journalists, are not subject to the specific criminal offence mentioned above but in the event of any wrongful dealing in PTI or other confidential information we may pursue remedies such as proceedings relating to breach of confidence.

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