Memorandum from Tesco PLC


I have been following your inquiry into Press Standards, Privacy and Libel with interest.


Further to comments made during a recent session, I wanted to provide some background on our recent case against The Guardian.


The Guardian published a highly inaccurate and damaging article in February last year accusing Tesco of avoiding 1bn of corporation tax on some sale and leaseback deals. This was despite our having explicitly told The Guardian five times prior to publication that these allegations were untrue.


The Guardian then refused to accept they had made a mistake and apologise for or retract the piece. We were therefore unfortunately left with little choice but to issue legal proceedings to protect our reputation and set the record straight. The matter was finally settled when The Guardian agreed to publish a full apology and front page notice in September last year, although it was a further six months before costs were settled.


I fully support free and open debate about the role and conduct of business, but as I am sure you agree it is vital that this debate is based on fact, not fiction.


I hope that this is useful background. If however you would like to discuss this, or indeed any other matter, with me further, please do not hesitate to let me know. In the meantime, best wishes for the remainder of the inquiry and I look forward to seeing the final report.


May 2009