Government met with Google 25 times before tax deal
Daily Mirror investigation reveals extent of Google lobbying
Conservative party leaders, including Chancellor George Osborne, met with Google every three weeks in the run-up to its ‘sweetheart’ deal with the Treasury, the Mirror reported today.
Chancellor Mr Osborne, policy chief Oliver Letwin and ex-Tory chairman Grant Shapps were among 17 different Tory Ministers to hold face-to-face talks with Google bosses in at least 25 official meetings over the past two years.
The details come to light as pressure mounts for an investigation into a deal struck between Google and HMRC that sees them paying the equivalent of just 3% in corporation tax on their vast profits in the ten year period from 2005.
The European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, announced this week that she is willing to investigate Google's tax arrangements should someone complain about them.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:
"If we find that there is something to be concerned about [and] if someone writes to us and says, well, this is maybe not as it should be then we will take a look."
The Mirror adds that:
"there is no suggestion any rules were broken, and it is understood the meetings covered a broad range of topics."
However the paper questions the links between the company and the current tax deal, as private talks were held every three to four weeks over a two year period as the tax deal was being struck.
The paper also lists the following examples of the closeness between the two organisations:
- The Tories spent £312,000 on Google adverts in the run-up to the May election. (Labour spent just £371.)
- Google chairman Eric Schmidt spent five years as a business adviser to the Prime Minister between 2009 and 2015,
- Schmidt also gave the keynote speech at the Tory Party conference last year.
- Mr Osborne and Mr Schmidt have penned several joint articles for British newspapers.
- Mr Osborne and Mr Schmidt attended the secretive Bilderberg conference together last year.
- David Cameron has twice spoken at Google’s own conferences.
- Mr Cameron also accepted a £14,000 trip to Google’s HQ in 2007, and met with Google bosses three times after becoming PM.
- CCHQ spin doctor, Amy Fisher, is a former Google press officer, while backbench Tory MP, Nigel Huddleston, only quit his job with Google last May.
Read more about Google and alternative browsers, search engines and email providers in our recent report into the Internet.
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