The Barclay brothers have lost a £1.25bn battle with the taxman

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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The Barclay Brothers brothers own the Ritz, the Daily Telegraph and online retailer Shop Direct (Source: Getty)

The billionaire Barclay brothers have lost their long-running legal wrangle with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) after the UK's highest court ruled the taxman did not owe them £1.25bn.

Littlewoods, a retailer owned by Frederick and David Barclay, brought the claim against HMRC more than a decade ago after it overpaid value added tax (VAT) between 1973 and 2004.

HMRC refunded the company £205m together with simple interest of £268m, but Littlewoods argued it should have been paid additional interest of £1.25bn, calculated on a compound basis "on the ground that such interest is due under the common law of restitution, either as restitution for a mistake of law, or as restitution of tax unlawfully demanded".

The Supreme Court today unanimously dismissed Littlewoods' appeal.

The Barclay brothers own the Ritz, the Daily Telegraph and online retailer Shop Direct.

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