Our people are our most important asset. Through their professionalism, dedication and expertise we have become recognised as the leading fee protection insurance provider and independent specialist tax and funding consultancy in the UK. 

Christian Stobbs Managing Director

Christian joined Abbey Tax in September 2016 from its parent company Markel International. At Markel, Christian was a strategy and development executive, supporting the growth of Markel Corporation in its international markets. Prior to Markel, he was at The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consultancy business, where he specialised in financial services. Christian is a graduate of Oxford University.

Colin Davison – Chief Executive Officer

Colin founded Abbey Tax in December 1996 and headed up the management buy out, which included Abbey Legal Protection, in 2004 to create Abbey Protection Group.  In November 2007, Colin was instrumental in floating the group on AIM with market capitalisation of £55million and Colin became CEO of Abbey Protection plc.  In January 2014, Abbey Protection was acquired by Markel International for £116.5million and Colin has continued in his role as Managing Director of Abbey Tax and Consultancy Services and CEO of the group operating company. 

Liz Grace – Operations Director

Liz worked alongside Colin to launch Abbey Tax Protection Ltd in December 1996. She became Operations Director of Abbey Tax in 2001 and an Abbey Protection Group Ltd main Board Director in 2004. Liz has responsibility for the day to day running of Abbey Tax.

Christopher Penfold - Sales Director

Christopher has considerable sales and marketing experience, having established his reputation at Crowe Clark Whitehill and, before that, Grant Thornton. His primary responsibility at Abbey Tax is to co-ordinate our sales and marketing efforts across our three sites in Sheffield, Rugby and London, whilst developing  our insurance products and tax consultancy services moving forward.
 

Andy Ralston – Head of Operations

Andy became Head of Operations in January 2017 having transferred from our Sheffield office. Andy joined what was to become our R&D Tax Division in 2012, initially as a Consultant and later as Director of R&D Tax Services. Working with a variety of clients, in partnership with Accountancy practices, Andy secured R&D tax relief ranging from a few thousand pounds to several hundred thousand pounds, whilst having operational responsibility for the division. Prior to that, Andy spent 28 years in insurance claims, becoming ACII qualified in 1987 and working for a variety of insurers, loss adjusters and service providers in both technical and managerial roles.  

Dave Marples – Head of Underwriting

David joined Abbey Tax in 1997 having previously worked for the Inland Revenue for 14 years where he undertook enquiries into Sole Traders, Partnerships and Limited Companies as well as dealing with PAYE Compliance Reviews. He initially built up and managed our consultancy team, providing advice to and dealing with enquiries on behalf of clients. Then he took responsibility for managing the claims team and applied his expertise in providing practical advice to Accountants dealing with HMRC enquiries on behalf of their clients. As Head of Underwriting, David was responsible for overseeing the changes to our Policy in January 2017 which has delivered an enhanced level and scope of cover to meet the needs of our clients.

Ash Bakawala – Head of Claims

Ash graduated from The Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Business and Technology and proceeded to work for HMRC for five years. His move from HMRC to Abbey Tax in 2008 was a natural fit and he has been part of the claims team for nine years. Ash was promoted to head up the claims team in 2016 and, whilst he still looks after a small portfolio of clients, his main priority is to ensure that the claims department operates in a fair and efficient way. 

Margo McKenzie – Head of Advisory Service

Margo has been involved in the world of tax for nearly 40 years. For the first 22 of those years she worked for what was then the Inland Revenue, initially dealing with PAYE, then company directors.  In 2000, she left the Inland Revenue and joined Abbey Tax to become part of the telephone advisory team, albeit a much smaller team then, just two direct tax advisers and one VAT consultant. She embarked on the ATT study course, passing all papers first time. Over the years, the UK tax code has become much more voluminous and complicated, so it is an interesting challenge keeping up with all the changes. The outstanding team Margo manages now consists of 10 tax advisers and five VAT advisers, handling in excess of 45,000 calls per year. 

Guy Smith – Head of Technical Research

Guy Smith is our Head of Technical Research, with specific responsibility for Making Tax Digital.
He worked for HMRC for 15 years, most latterly as a tax inspector, before joining Abbey Tax in 2003 as a Senior Tax Consultant. 

Alongside his role at Abbey Tax, Guy is also a Consultant Editor and Author for Tolley and sits on the ICAS Technical Bulletin editorial board. Guy has attended several HMRC presentations on Making Tax Digital and recently participated in an Agent Strategy Design Workshop.

Sarah Baker – Head of Support Services

Sarah has been with Abbey Tax for more than 16 years and is very passionate about the company. On a day to day basis Sarah ensures the smooth running of our onsite operations including facilities management and procurement. She also looks after recruitment, training and development and wellbeing. In the near future, she will be launching our very own graduate programme to further develop our technical expertise. Sarah also manages the office support team which provides support and overspill to many of the other departments. 

Alison Lynch Head of Tax Services

Alison has a BA Honours and 1st class degree in Economics. She started her career with Coopers & Lybrand in 1995 and became a Chartered Tax Adviser in 1998. When Coopers & Lybrand merged with Price Waterhouse in 1998 she started to specialise in R&D tax credits. She set up a National R&D Tax Credit service when she joined PKF as Director in 2006.

Alison then decided to go it alone and set up her own bespoke R&D Tax Credit practice in 2009, HowarthLynch, which grew to be one of the largest independent R&D Tax Credit specialists in the UK. Abbey Tax acquired HowarthLynch in August 2014 to expand the Tax and Funding arm of the business, which Alison now heads up.  

John Moxon – Director of R&D Tax Services

John is an ICAEW Chartered Accountant who has specialised in R&D tax relief since 2009. In this time, he has managed over 2500 R&D tax claims and currently sits on the HMRC Research and Development Consultative Committee. John manages the Sheffield operation of Abbey Tax which incorporates R&D tax relief, Patent Box and R&D funding. Although management takes up a lot of his time, John still enjoys working with a number of clients, many of whom have used John for R&D tax advice since 2009. Born, raised and educated in Sheffield, he particularly enjoys working with clients involved in the steel and foundry industry.  

Vaughn Chown – Managing Partner, Gabelle

Vaughn is Managing Partner at Gabelle. He is a Chartered Tax Adviser and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has 30 years' professional experience. He specialises in VAT. Vaughn spent nine years as a senior officer with HMRC. He has represented many cases in the VAT Tribunal including take away food, mixed and multiple supplies, VAT liabilities and VAT bad debt relief. He regularly lectures on all aspects of VAT and writes on the VAT issues facing OMBs and their advisers.

Paula Tallon – Partner, Gabelle

Paula is a Partner of Gabelle. A Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser with an Advanced Diploma in International Tax, she has spent almost 20 years advising on tax. She has a broad range of tax expertise with particular emphasis on owner-managed businesses and her particular areas of interest include property taxes, entrepreneurs’ relief, business reorganisations and reconstructions, employment related securities and venture capital schemes.  She regularly writes and lectures on tax issues affecting OMBs.

Jeremy Leach – Director, Accountax and Tax Indemnities

Jeremy is a former Inspector of Taxes with over 40 years’ taxation experience. His specialisms include tax investigations from local enquiries to Special Investigations and disclosures under HMRC campaigns. As an Inspector of Taxes, he dealt with Status enquiries for HMRC, which provides a valuable insight for clients. Jeremy has played a pivotal role in developing NIC Insurance indemnities for a wide range of clients. He was also an Accounts Investigator for HMRC which ensures clients under investigation benefit from extensive experience gained from both sides of the fence. As a former Tax partner in a top 20 Accountancy Practice, he has a good understanding of clients’ tax issues as well as the issues faced by their advisors. He is also able to help clients with Tax Indemnity Insurance which often can assist to indemnify clients against any potential tax liability that may be identified by due diligence in the event of a business sale or restructure.