HMRC launched a taskforce in September, aiming to recover more than £19.5m, and is focusing on five groups – the legal profession in London; grocery and retail in specific pockets of the UK; the hair and beauty industry in the North East; restaurants in the South East and Solent; and the motor trade in Scotland.

According to HMRC, the taskforce is a team of specialists which will conduct visits to examine records and carry out other investigations in “intensive bursts of activity”.

However, Bar Council chairman Michael Todd QC queried why HMRC had “chosen to proceed in this manner” rather than engaging with the relevant professional bodies. “It is not, at present, clear to us exactly why the legal profession has been targeted by HMRC,” he said.