Following his recent public criticism of HMRC it has been announced that his reign as the front man for HMRC media adverts has come to end.
He has lasted five years, and succeeded Mrs Doyle, the tea lady from the Father Ted comedy show. The first such character was a cartoon.
I still remember speaking at the ICAEW annual conference in 1997 and explaining to the audience that the cartoon taxman was to have been called ‘Hector the Inspector’. However just before the campaign launched someone at the Revenue had checked the dictionary definition and noted that “to hector” meant ‘to bully or torment’. As these were not qualities with which the Revenue would want to be associated, the name was officially dropped.
Sharing the platform at the conference was a senior Revenue official, Sam Mitha. He spoke after me and immediately disputed my version of events. I was astonished until he ‘explained’: “… evidently Mr Lee is mistaken as I can assure you that Inspectors of Taxes do not have access to dictionaries.”
We have since laughed about this especially as everyone other than the Revenue always referred to the character as Hector.