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Cable willing to provide court evidence against Barclays

Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has slammed Barclays for obtaining a court order banning The Guardian from publishing documents on its tax affairs.

Cable is now offering to provide a witness statement to support the press in court.

He says the documents are “of immense public interest” and argues that “at a time when banks are receiving massive support from Government, the public has a right” to see the documents.

According to Cable the scale of tax avoidance by banks has not been previously exposed because banks have been able to hide behind commercial confidentiality and threats of legal action to prevent their tax avoidance becoming known.

He is now calling for open discussion of the banks’ tax affairs.

He says: “Allowing independent tax professionals to examine these documents is vital to regulating the banks in a way that properly protects the UK taxpayer.”

However, a Barclays spokesman says Barclays is one of the UK’s largest taxpayers, paying just under £10bn in direct, indirect and payroll taxes in the UK. Globally it paid £10.4bn in taxes in the last two years.

The spokesman says: “Barclays does not encourage or condone tax evasion. We comply with taxation laws in the UK and the other countries in which we operate.

“Why we have taking this injunction is because the documents are confidential, commercially sensitive and Barclays’ property. No organisation can tolerate theft of its property that’s why we sort this injunction.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will later today meet with Barclays group chief executive officer John Varley, where he will discuss a number of issues including tax avoidance.


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