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The Thoughts of Chairman Rusbridger…

February 6, 2009


The exciting new-look Grauniad, home of the “think pod” (AKA room), has been trumpeting its investigation into corporate tax-dodgers. So far, so commendable. But wait… what’s this? Every article on the subject published on CiF is either closed to comments or pre-moderated.

In the business section, an article on tax-dodging corporations by Richard Brooks was displayed with the following notice:

CommunityMod, 04 Feb 09, 7:18pm: Please note, comments on this blog are being pre-moderated…

The Grauniad’s editorial on the subject of corporate tax-dodging had the following addendum:

Cif editor’s note: This article has been published with comments off because of potential legal issues, which might arise. Unfortunately, we cannot open every article on this topic to comment…

And Polly Tuscany Toynbee’s philippic on the same subject allowed no comments at all. All the above pieces, it should be noted, appeared under the rubric “Comment is Free”.

It would, of course, be a spiteful and small minded person who speculated on whether the Guardian Media Group‘s setting up of GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited in the Caymans Isles, where the corporation tax rate is zero, has anything to do with it. This corporate vehicle allowed the Guardian Media Group to dodge stamp duty, saving itself £600,000, or almost enough to pay slippery ex-gossip drooler Alan Rusbridger for a year.

Note to Grauniad: Before shooting yourselves in the foot, it’s wise to remove said foot from your mouth.

  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 7, 2009 11:42 PM

    Has anyone drawn attention to this elsewhere?

  2. mishari permalink*
    February 8, 2009 10:36 AM

    It’s pretty common knowledge, MM. Private Eye broke the story last year, I think.

    It dated from GMG’s sale of %50 (or whatever it was) of Auto Trader for about £600 million .

    It’s Auto Trader that allows the Grauniad to blithely ignore its readers feelings because the paper is not subject to the stringencies of the market. It is entirely subsidised and, in fact, lost some £28 million last year. The paper has lost millions a year for the last decade, at least.

    I remember when GMG bought radio station Jazz FM. The station went from a decent jazz oasis to a purveyor of dreary MOR/lift-music sludge. Last year, it changed its name to Smooth FM: that’s smooth as in baby-shit…

  3. seanmurray permalink
    February 9, 2009 1:21 AM

    Uh, this is pretty big news.

    Do I hear steel-capped sandals booting down Mishari’s door?

  4. mishari permalink*
    February 9, 2009 11:53 AM

    No doubt. In an effort to get me to reveal my sources, they’ll force me to read Julie Bindel, Bidisha, La Toynbee and Chad Nuclear-Boredom…and I’ll break. There’s only so much flesh and blood can stand.

  5. February 9, 2009 3:00 PM

    More likely they’ll force you to read back issues of Auto Trader. In the company of men who like reading back issues of Auto Trader.

  6. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 9, 2009 11:53 PM

    I didn’t know Auto Trader was so popular. I don’t think I’ve ever opened it. A few years back I remember the G crowing that it had overtaken The Times and was selling 400,000 copies. Or was it 500,000? That’s a lot of papers, but I think it was a simpler product then. You could easily lose a third of the crap that goes into it now. I wonder how expensive the web operation is? I think I can guess.

  7. freep permalink
    February 10, 2009 11:58 AM

    Mishari. This puts me in mind of other ‘worthy’ or liberal institutions which have been been propped up by rather dirtier or murkier enterprises. I seem to recall that the arty farty Dartington Trust was discreetly founded on the back of a firm making sewage pipes. The Catholic Church, of course, obtains its useful wealth and high art from mincing the bodies of harmless filipino children and selling them as Big Macs.
    Perhaps it’s laudable that someone who wants to perform a social good is prepared to get their hands dirty for a higher purpose. The Freep Give Life to a Starving Brigand Trust depends entirely on the proceeds of the Gateshead non-aligned Roulette Distortion Project, but you just have to be pragmatic in this difficult world. The Duke of Sutherland, when he cleared his county of feckless crofters, had a higher purpose, but he forgot what it was. Ah yes, sheep.

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