Belfast Telegraph

BBC documentary charts making of tax scam movie Landscape of Lies which Newry actress helped mastermind

First glimpse at footage of the making of the film that never was

This is the first look at footage of the making of a movie that never was - which a Newry actress helped mastermind.

Newry actress Aoife Madden was one of a gang of five which pretended that unnamed Hollywood A-listers would star in a multi-million pound production that would be shot in the United Kingdom.

A BBC4 documentary will show how a movie called Landscape of Lives became a £100,000 production called Landscape of Lies.

They said that a Jordanian company was backing the film to the tune of £19m.

But the film Landscape Of Lives was never made and the only footage shot was seven minutes of "completely unusable quality" filmed in a flat and costing just £5,000.

When HMRC followed up checks they found the production was a fraud and a means of claiming millions in tax breaks.

It later transpired that Madden, niece of Sinn Fein politician Conor Murphy, was part of a team of bogus film-makers who fraudulently claimed £2.7m in tax rebates by pretending to shoot the movie A Landscape Of Lies.

The investigation led to HMRC's first prosecution for film tax relief fraud.

The producers were arrests and charged and released on bail.

During this time they decided to try and make a movie and so they tried to cover up the scam by shooting a film called A Landscape of Lies on a small budget - a new version of the original title which was Landscape of Lives.

The film was released on DVD in 2011 and starred former EastEnders actor Marc Bannerman and Loose Women star Andrea McLean.

HMRC later claimed that the movie was a sham all along and that the real intention from the outset was to "defraud the public purse of nearly £1.5m in VAT along with nearly £1.3m in film tax-credit claims."

The producers behind it all were convicted in 2013.

Madden pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to cheat the Revenue before the trial and was jailed for four years and eight months in 2013.

Bashar Al-Issa, 34, a former Iraqi national who is now British, of Rodney Court, Maida Vale, London, described as the orchestrator of the fraud, was jailed for six-and-a-half years by Judge Juliet May, sitting at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

Two other defendants in the scam - Tariq Hassan, 52, a Pakistani national, of Willingale Road, Loughton, Essex, and Osama Al Baghdady, 51, an Iraqi national of Lowther Road, Crumpsall, Manchester, received four-year jail sentences.

A fifth defendant, architect Ian Sherwood, 53, of Esher Drive, Sale, Manchester, who allowed his offices to be used for the fraud, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Judge May said the fraud had been based on an "entirely bogus film project".

Now in never before seen footage a BBC 4 documentary will chart the story of A Landscape of Lies.

It will be shown on BBC4 on January 24.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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