Throughout this period AstraZeneca was, of course, an active tax lobbyist. The AstraZeneca FD Jon Symonds, since 2007 with Goldman Sachs, did for example whilst at AstraZeneca chair the 100 Group of FTSE FDs. And just by chance whilst he was in that role he ensured that the FTSE 100 gave £5 million to fund the Oxford Centre for the Non-Taxation of Business. This was taken at the launch event:
At the launch reception, from left to right: Jon Symons, Chair of The Hundred Group; Dave Hartnett, Director General HMRC; Judith Freedman, Professor of Taxation Law, University of Oxford; Chris Wales, Goldman Sachs; Colin Mayer, Professor of Management Studies, Said Business School. (Photograph by Greg Smolonski).
Or as Accountancy Age put it:
The great and good of the tax world gathered to listen to Hundred Group chairman Jon Symonds and HMRC director general Dave Hartnett share a platform with a handful of handpicked and distinguished academics.
The exchange was mostly amicable ¬? Symonds and Hartnett are, after all, highly professional, polished and have worked on too many committees together to be anything other than cordial.
And yet the question remains - are such links appropriate when there is so much tax in dispute? I'm not sure. And can a company in such dispute sit on committees setting tax policy? Again, I'm not sure.
PS Accountancy Age are slightly incorrect in their reporting. Someone called Murphy asked some awkward questions at the same event, and for good reason, as history has proven.