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In the UK, Tesco has launched libel proceedings against The Guardian, saying that the newspaper intentionally misled readers in stories that charged the retailer with creating a tax avoidance scheme designed around offshore partnerships.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's executive director of corporate and legal affairs, released the following statement: "It is very regrettable that we have had to take this step. We had hoped that the Guardian would be able to accept that it had made a mistake and apologise for what it had written, but despite our requests to them to set the record straight this has not happened."

Tesco says that the Guardian reported the story despite being given evidence that it was untrue.

The newspaper replied in a prepared statement: “This looks like a deliberate tactic by Britain's largest retailer to shut down perfectly legitimate inquiries into their methods of tax avoidance. At the same time that two Tesco directors are reported to have lobbied the government in private on matters of taxation, the company is now seeking to chill public debate on the same issues.”

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