Tax Avoidance Lawyer Abandons Scheme to Establish Brexit ‘Escape Clause’ in Irish Courts

Joylon Maugham
BBC

Tax avoidance lawyer Jolyon Maugham has abandoned his attempt to have the European Court of Justice (ECJ) declare that Britain’s exit from the EU can be stopped despite the activation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Maugham had hoped that Irish judges – rather than British judges – might refer his case to the ECJ. He aimed for a ruling on whether or not British politicians could unilaterally revoke the activation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets in train the Brexit process.

If judges in Europe had ruled that they could, it would have established an “escape clause” for MPs like Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and Labour’s David Lammy to terminate Brexit, should the efforts of Castro-inspired financier Gina Miller, former prime minister Tony Blair, and other Remain holdouts shift the parliamentary arithmetic before 2019.

“It is clear that Ireland does not want a reference to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg of the questions in the proceedings,” Maugham wrote. “This stance surprised me.”

The lawyer, who recently converted a historic windmill into a multi-million-pound country retreat, financed his scheme through donations raised on the CrowdJustice website.

“My name is Jo Maugham”, wrote the lawyer, son of the author, Old Etonian, and former tutor to the Rothschild banking family, David Benedictus, when launching his appeal. “I was born into a working class family. I am a QC and I speak and write and campaign for people who’ve been left behind.”

The ultimate fate of the £70,000 raised by his campaign is unknown, although he claims he has been a “careful steward”.

“Of the £70,000 raised, £4,000 went in fees. Of the remainder, a significant portion will have been expended on legal costs so far.

“But there will be a sum remaining unspent. The solicitors have not yet been able to quantify that sum.

“When that sum is known to me, I will ensure it goes either to other Brexit related litigation with sympathetic aims – or if there is no other such litigation to a charity.”

Maugham was previously best known for stirring controversy when former Labour leader Ed Miliband brought him on as an adviser on tax avoidance.

He had himself represented the alleged “celebrity tax dodge film scheme” Eclipse 35 in courtL judges ultimately deemed Eclipse 35 was indeed a tax avoidance front, depriving UK public services of some £117 million.

“I was for the alleged tax avoiders,” Maugham admitted. “I was trying to do the best by my clients, you will understand.”

By way of mitigation, Maugham claimed he had also “applied many, many times to do work for the government … I have made my services available to Her Majesty. There’s not much more I can do than that.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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