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Vodafone denies deals with taxman

Vodafone launched a robust defence denying claims the taxman let it off a multibillion pound tax bill, saying that it was a "good corporate citizen" yesterday.

Andy Halford, the group's chief financial officer, said: "There has not now and never has been a tax bill for £6bn or £8bn... There was no sweetheart deal." The deal struck with HM Revenue and Customs was for a bill of about £1.2bn. The company pays about 25 per cent of its annual profits in tax, "which is the normal corporate deal," he said.

"It is frustrating," Mr Halford said. "People forget we do a huge number of other things that are beneficial to the country, include employing over 8,000 people." He pointed to £350m paid to charitable causes, its dividend payouts, and the £700m passed to the Government in the form of VAT, adding "We hugely contribute to society over here".

The group released its half-year results yesterday. Core earnings rose 2.3 per cent to £7.5bn over a year earlier. Revenues were up 4.1 per cent to £23.5bn and the group lifted its outlook for the full year, as growth remained strong in the emerging markets. The chief executive Vittorio Colao said the company had posted a "pretty good" set of numbers, adding: "The strategy is working."