So now we know.

All of us who have ever assumed that staff at shops in our airports asking to see and record details of our boarding cards were obliged to do it for security or official reasons were very wrong. It is just so that the likes of Boots, WH Smith and Dixons Travel can avoid paying the 20% VAT on goods purchased when we fly to destinations outside the EC, passing none of the extra millions they are making onto us, their valued customers.

The revelations by the Independent newspaper, and published in every other public-spirited newspaper has already led to some travellers now refusing to show their boarding cards, a number that will hopefully grow as passengers realise the depth and extent of the gratuitous deceit.

Why on earth couldn’t these big-name retailers be fair and transparent and admit that they were getting a VAT benefit, and at least offer to reflect this in the price charged to those travelling outside the EC? Could it be that the rent they pay to the airport owners, who are fully aware of the VAT rules, is set to include the money they can make from being less than straight with their customers?

We should all be told.

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