THE owners of a large UK bookmaker are facing court over allegations they moved part of their operation to Gibraltar to avoid paying tax.

Stephen and Anne Fisher and son Peter – owners of Stan James – moved their phone and internet betting business to a Gibraltar-based arm of its parent company in 2000.

But now, HM Revenue & Customs insists the move was a deliberate attempt to avoid paying UK gaming duties, court documents reveal.

The legal papers show the taxman wants to charge its profit as if it were the shareholders’ personal income, which is likely to mean paying a higher rate of income tax.

Gibraltar-based companies would normally pay corporation tax at only 22 per cent on profits.

The additional tax charge applies to companies who move offshore purely to pay less tax.