The Guardian has apologised to Tesco over its reporting of the
supermarket’s tax affairs.
The paper published a series of articles on Saturday making clear that it no
longer believed Tesco’s Cayman island structures allowed it to avoid up to £1bn
in corporation tax.
‘The original Guardian articles did not correctly explain the effect
of Tesco’s tax schemes. It was wrong to state that they were designed to avoid
corporation tax. It would have been correct to refer to avoiding SDLT [Stamp
Duty Land Tax].
‘As a result, the figure of “up to £1bn” – calculated as the amount which
could have been saved on the disposal of £5bn of property – is wrong. The loss
to the exchequer is likely to be nearer the region of £90m-£100m,’ the paper
In a separate editorial it apologised for that: ‘We are happy to withdraw
both assertions and apologise.’
But iit also robustly defended its journalism, and insisted there are
important issues over Tesco’s tax avoidance that still require answers.
‘We remain ready to defend our journalism – in court, if necessary. We
believe these matters should be subject to debate and scrutiny, and we invite
further informed analysis from any readers with experience in accountancy or tax
law,’ the paper said.
The Guardian reported Tesco saying in a statement: ‘Given that the
Guardian has not yet filed a defence to the legal proceedings issued
against its parent company and editor, we believe that it is completely
inappropriate for Tesco to be asked by the Guardian to comment further
on matters which may have a bearing on the case.
‘Tesco has already made clear in its public statements and in the legal
documents served on the Guardian Media Group that savings have been made on
stamp duty and stamp duty land tax.’
The statement added: ‘We continue to hope that the Guardian will publish an
apology and correction for its false statements.’
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