Published: 20:30, 10 January 2017
A Kent-based motivational speaker who advised businessmen on “inspiring sales” has been revealed as a fraudster.
Consultant Keith Liddiard, 54, posted videos on You Tube boasting “leadership and essential skills for businessmen”.
He had also carried out charity work including making ovens for refugees in the former migrant camp in Calais known as the Jungle.
VIDEO: Keith Liddiard boasted of his skills on YouTube
But a jury decided the business “guru”, from Rowan Mews, Tonbridge, who ran Liddiard Company Associates had fraudulently claimed £45,000 in VAT.
He denied the charge at his trial at Canterbury Crown Court was convicted of “ripping off” taxpayers for two years with his tax scam.
Now Judge James O’Mahony has heard that after the guilty verdict Liddiard has repaid the money with a loan from his sister.
He escaped an immediate jail sentence, receiving a nine month sentence suspended for two years.
Judge O’Mahony told him: “These courts deal daily with the whole spectrum of criminal activity...and it is common that offenders come from broken dysfunctional families, limited education and often illiterate.
"They are very often unemployed and very often addicted to drugs.
“But you have had all the advantages...highly intelligent, charm, academic achievements and great success in your consultancy business...indeed you have lectured to others as how to conduct themselves in business with their aims and methods.
“But over a two year period you ripped off other decent taxpaying people of nearly £45,000. This was deliberate dishonesty taking other people’s money.”
The court heard Liddiard was “an exceptional” father who had also carried out charity work.
But the judge told him: “That doesn’t sit well with you cheating other members of society, who struggle to make their way honestly paying their taxes...while you declined to pay yours.
“Now you have lost your good name and this conviction quite rightly brings disgrace upon you.”
Liddiard, who privately paid for Chris Daw QC at his trial, was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for the community and pay £2,900 court costs.
A three month electronic curfew suggestion was withdrew by the judge after hearing how Liddiard was now working in Thailand.
Mr Daw said that after "much soul-searching" following the trial and verdict Liddiard now accepts his "personal responsibility and has expressed his regret".
Speaking after the case, Alan Tully, assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Keith Liddiard showed a blatant disregard for UK tax law by knowingly defrauding HMRC of VAT.
"He knew what he was doing was wrong and now has a criminal record.
"It is simply not acceptable to steal from HMRC and honest UK taxpayers.
“HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who attack the tax system and we ask anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to contact our 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
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