The latest edition of Private Eye carries an article claiming that many or all of the Central London shops selling cheap tourist tat are part of a tax (probably VAT as well) fraud that began in 2006, when a “well connected” Afghani set up the first shop in Piccadilly Circus. The article claims that a long series of businesses and, probably, front men have perpetrated a the fraud – and also pricing out legitimate shops, and has since moved outside to London to other cities such as Canterbury and Edinburgh. It laments HMRC lack of action, saying that Westminster Council is investigating the businesses for business rates evasion.
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