Guardian versus Barclays: Documents of immense public interest

Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable has spoken out in defence of The Guardian in its battle with Barclays to reveal documents detailing the bank’s tax-avoidance schemes.

The Guardian is today fighting an injunction preventing publication of the documents – which had been on its website.

Cable said: “These documents are clearly of immense public interest, suggesting as they do a systematic attempt to avoid paying tax. At a time when banks are receiving massive support from the government, the public has a right to know if those same banks are also trying to avoid paying their tax bills.

“Barclays is negotiating for substantial government backing under the asset protection scheme. The government must make it an absolute precondition that tax avoidance at the expense of the taxpayer should stop.

“The scale of tax avoidance by banks has not been previously exposed because it is so hard to report on. These documents provide chapter and verse on the banks’ activities.”

The Guardian today reveals editor Alan Rusbrider’s written submission to court in which he says: “I considered these documents to be of the highest significance in the debate about tax avoidance. They revealed at first hand the processes involved in structuring extremely complex and artificial tax avoidance vehicles; how lawyers and accountants worked together to exploit loopholes in government legislation; and the degree to which they are sanctioned at the highest levels within Barclays.”

Press Gazette is at the High Court today and will have the latest news on the case as it happens.

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