Constituency Office diligence gets results
The constituent from Cumbria wrote to Nick Griffin concerning the Maltese Government's charge for vehicle importation and tax registration.
The gentleman spent some time in Malta with the intention of settling there permanently. He fell ill however within six months and returned to England following medical treatment. Whilst he was ill in hospital, he was pressurised into importing his British car and paying over 5000 Euros for tax registration.
He found out subsequently that he may have been wrongly advised and did not need to import the car, so he wrote to the Maltese Ministry of Finance, requesting a refund but had not received a reply.
"This was back in January and for the past 11 months Nick and I have been in correspondence with the Maltese Government trying to get the matter resolved," says Constituency Office manager Tina Wingfield.
"Initially the Maltese Ministry of Finance stonewalled requests to open discussion on the matter, insisting that there was 'no exemption entitlement in the strict terms of the law'.
"Apparently it was a Transport Authority decision to reject the refund, so I requested an exception in writing, supplying all the documentary evidence in support of the case based on our constituent's particular and personal circumstances."
This was back in May, and over the the next three months there were more than 30 emails, letters and telephone calls from the Constituency Office to the Maltese Ministry of Finance trying to get the matter resolved
At the end of September there was some disappointing news which Tina reported to the constituent.
"I spoke to the Maltese Ministry of Finance this morning and was told that your case had been discussed at a meeting of the Transport Authority and it was decided that, as you had lived in Malta for more than seven months, you were liable to pay the vehicle tax. Your request for exemption from the payment was therefore refused on legal grounds. While it is stated that there is no legal basis for a refund, I have requested that an exception might be made in your case."
For the next six weeks the was no response from the office dealing with the matter and calls were not returned. In the end Tina was left with no option but to contact the Ministry of Finance's Customer Care office.
She told them that her constituent had been denied the simple courtesy of a single response to his request for a refund, and that he was preparing a formal complaint.
Finally at the end of October there was a light at the end of this long tunnel.
The Customer Care office reported that the claim was being reconsidered by the Government of Malta but that proof of the vehicle's re-registration in the UK was required to be able to proceed.
This posed problems as Tina explained to the Customer Care Office:
"Unfortunately, the constituent sold the car that was registered in Malta, so no longer holds the logbook. As a pensioner, faced with ever-increasing petrol prices in the UK, he was forced to change his vehicle for a smaller, more economical car. He has however, provided you instead, with copies of the following documentation: the MOT Test Certificate which shows the registration transfer date; the Bill of Sale and the acknowledgement letter from the DVLA confirming the ‘change of owner’; and the logbook issued by Malta ADT (Certifikat ta’ Registrazzjoni) - which will enable you to cross-reference the vehicle details.
I hope this documentation suffices for the purposes of progressing the refund claim."
But there was further delay because more meetings in Malta failed to come up with a resolution.
Then finally on the 3rd of December, the Maltese Ministry of Finance agreed that there were "exceptional circumstances" in this case and that a refund on “humanitarian grounds” should be made.
This was a very satisfying outcome after nearly a year's polite persistence by Nick Griffin's Constituency office, and a very welcome Christmas bonus for the constituent concerned.