To Tesco, an apology

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This apology is correct.

It became obvious the Guardian got this story wrong, at least in part, after it was published. I'm afraid there was a logic flaw in it, and this outcome was inevitable for that technical reason. Although some thought otherwise, I did not advise in detail on his story before publication.

But let's be clear about the following:

1) Tescos avoided tax.

2) This apology does not end the possibility of legal action.

3) I believe Tescos did avoid corporation tax, and largely for the reasons I have noted in this blog, although that too I would amend now, a little. I stress, this blog is based on evidence different from that available to the Guardian when they wrote their article.

I applaud the Guardian editorial today. It is brave, defiant and appropriate.

I think Tescos have made themselves foolish in taking this action. They have sought to defend the indefensible. In doing so they have made themselves look more than ever like bullies and abusers of the liberties and obligations that underpin society.

I am also confident that there is more to come as yet on this story. When it does appear Tescos might rue having taken on this fight.

In the meantime, what is clear is that a fault-line is developing in what is considered tax avoidance. The City believes that if no tax is due after they have undertaken their shenanigans then there could not have been avoidance. This is what I have already called the 'Philip Green' defence. It is summarised as 'no tax was due, so how could it have been avoided?' The reality is that it is the shenanigans to ensure no tax is due that constitute the avoidance.

And this debate will not go away, whether Tescos like it or not, and their conduct will now remain a feature of that debate, again whether they like it or not because what has been proven beyond doubt by this case, so far, is that they thought themselves quite justified in seeking to subvert the will of the UK Parliament through the use of complex offshore structures which had no purpose but to subvert that will. That is not and never will be the action of a responsible corporation.

I believe that indisputable, although Tescos might not agree.