Former Leicester City ace pays penalty for unpaid tax bill

Emile Heskey

Former Leicester City striker, Emile Heskey, has been ordered to pay almost £200,000 in costs to HMRC following a long-running legal battle over an unpaid £1.6m tax bill.

A judge ruled on Tuesday (June 4) that Heskey, who is currently the head of football development at Leicester City Women, must pay £194,794.42 in legal fees after HMRC took action against the former Foxes and England favourite.

Heskey was due to stand trial at the High Court in November 2019, but this was cancelled after he admitted liability for the debt in the long-running case that can be traced back to 2005.

Yesterday, special costs judge Mark Whelan said the fine was “reasonable and proportionate” in what had been a “complex” case.

Some 15 penalty notices had been issued to Heskey, dating back to 2005. He wasn’t present at the hearing and was unrepresented.

Francis Kendall, Director and costs lawyer at costs firm Kain Knight, told “Given the amount of tax at stake, it is no surprise that the fees were deemed ‘proportionate’.

“In my experience, the fees incurred by HMRC are near impossible to dispute. The department has an army of in-house lawyers, who charge hourly rates that are well below market rate, or the guideline figures usually allowed on assessment. Counsel also tend to work on reduced fees for HMRC.

“It is therefore likely that the legal spend, if in the open market, could have been significantly higher than the sum recovered. Mr Heskey’s own costs would undoubtedly be an interesting comparator.”

Heskey’s £200,000 bill does not include interest, so he may end up paying substantially more.