Guardian launches tax inquiry undeterred by Tesco libel

Undeterred by its costly libel battle with Tesco – The Guardian today launches a major investigation into the tax avoidance schemes run by Britain’s biggest companies.

The project is being led by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and involves a team including heavyweight investigative reporters such as Nick Davies, David Leigh and Rob Evans.

The Guardian claims that tax avoidance schemes could be costing the UK taxpayer anything up to £14bn.

The report points out that drinks giant Diageo for instance paid an average in UK tax of £43m despite profits of £2bn a year.

Guardian editor Rusbridger told Press Gazette in an interview last month that Tesco would form a small part of the paper’s current tax inquiry.

In September The Guardian published a front page apology after admitting that it got part of a story about Tesco’s tax planning wrong.

Last month, writing in the New York Review of Books, Rusbridger called for urgent reform of the British libel laws – warning that they were making complex investigations into matters like tax avoidance impossible.

The Guardian is still wrangling with Tesco lawyers Carter Ruck over legal costs relating to their dispute.

Rusbridger will be on the speakers at Press Gazette’s media law conference on 11 February in the Great Debate on libel reform. Also taking part in the debate will be a lawyer from Carter Ruck.

Places are still available at the conference – which features keynote speaker Jack Straw.

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