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  1. ITV Report

Barclay Brothers lose battle with UK taxman

Sir David Barclay (left) and his twin brother Sir Frederick after receiving their knighthoods from the Queen at Buckingham Palace Credit: Michael Stephens/PA Archive/PA Images

The billionaire Barclay brothers, who live on Brecqhou, have lost a battle with the UK's HM Revenue and Customs after the Supreme Court ruled that the taxman does not owe them £1.25 billion.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay had been pursuing the claim after Littlewoods, the retailer they own through Shop Direct, overpaid VAT to HMRC between 1973 and 2004.

The company had already received a £205 million refund from HMRC, together with "simple interest" of £268 million.

But Littlewoods has been seeking "additional interest" calculated on a compound basis amounting to £1.25 billion on the grounds of the "common law of restitution, either as restitution for a mistake of law, or as restitution of tax unlawfully demanded".

However, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the claim.

This is a disappointing outcome. Having succeeded in the High Court, the European Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal in a long process lasting over a decade, we are surprised by the Supreme Court's decision.

Given the importance of the legal issues and the sums at stake, we felt a duty to pursue this to its ultimate conclusion. To that end, today's decision has provided legal certainty and we can now finally draw a line under this case.

– The Barclay brothers

This is a great outcome for the UK taxpayer. The Supreme Court's confirmation of HMRC's understanding of EU and UK law on the payment of interest on VAT repayments will protect billions of pounds to fund the UK's public services.

– HMRC spokesperson