The scores of bemused shoppers passing Vodafone's two stores in the city centre on Saturday would have been largely unaware of the reason behind the presence of demonstrators & the company's decision to close both outlets. A brief piece in yesterday's Oldham Echo did mention the fact that Vodaphone owes £6bn to the exchequer in unpaid tax (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/11/01/protest-shuts-vodafone-stores-in-liverpool-100252-27577649/ ), yet described the evidence as "claims".
For good measure, the piece, typically lacking a byline, happily quoted a Vodafone spokesman who duly trotted out the company's spin on the matter: "We saw protests outside a small number of our UK stores.
"We temporarily closed some of them and diverted customers to other locations so they were not inconvenienced. Most have since reopened.
"We pay our taxes in the UK and all of the other countries in which we operate."
You'll be surprised to know that there were no quotes from any of the protestors.
The closure of the Grosvenor-pool & Church Street stores was part of a nationwide campaign to highlight Vodafone's tax-dodging scam (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/11/02/why-the-vodafone-protests-have-already-been-successful/ ).
The beans were spilled on the company's tax dodge by Private Eye in September (http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1273 ), the magazine pointing out that the company has ploughed its profits into a Luxembourg-based firm. Private Eye's article noted that Luxembourg's tax rate is "less than 1 per cent."
It would have been nice if the Oldham Echo had mentioned all this. After all, it would be unfortunate if Oldham Hall Street's much-trumpeted "pro-business" stance were to be tarnished because of a puff-piece for a tax-dodging multinational. Wouldn't it?