Barclays has won a continua- tion court order stopping The Guardian newspaper from publishing documents on its tax affairs.
Last week, the bank forced the paper to remove a number of the bank’s internal memos documenting the group’s tax affairs from The Guardian website.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable, who was originally given the leaked documents by a whistleblower, says the decision is “a sad day for democracy”. Cable, who offered to provide a witness statement to support the press in court, says the scale of tax avoidance by banks has not been exposed because banks have been able to hide behind commercial confidentiality and threats of legal action to prevent their tax avoidance becoming known.
He says: “Gordon Brown is calling on the G20 to outlaw tax havens but is doing nothing about their use right under his nose. British taxpayers are being asked to underwrite Barclays’ loans. I believe full disclosure of these documents would be in the public interest. “Banks use the finest legal brains money can buy to avoid tax but HMRC is underpaid and overstretched, so it is far from a level playing field. I have sent these documents to HMRC officials, who must read and use them all now.”