(London Telegraph) Rick Hone will never forget the morning of February 5, 2009. “I was in the car when I got a phone call from the office. The voice at the other end of the line was hysterical. I couldn’t really understand what was happening. I just knew I needed to get back to base immediately.

When he returned to Abbey Forwarding in Woolwich, London, the drinks warehousing business of which he had been a director for five years, he was shocked by what he saw.

“There were about 20 officers from HMRC [Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the tax authorities],” he remembers.

“Some of them were already changing the locks on the doors. Others were going through the company’s documents and computers, packing them up to take them away.”

One officer came up to Mr Hone and told him: “You owe over £5million in taxes. You can’t pay it. The company will be closed down to protect the creditors.”

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