Murdoch escaped UK tax bill

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RUPERT MURDOCH'S main British holding company, Newscorp Investments, has in effect paid no British corporation tax in the past 11 years, despite achieving total profits of pounds 1.4bn in the period, according to a report to be published today.

The disclosure in this week's edition of The Economist comes more than three years after an extensive investigation by The Independent revealed that in the previous 10 years News International, owner of The Times, The Sun and two other national newspapers, earned nearly pounds 1bn in profits (net of operating losses) and had a total tax bill of pounds 11.74m, or just 1.2 per cent.

The report in The Economist shows that tax payments in some years have been offset by rebates in others.

It comes as the Department of Trade and Industry is considering the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on the bid for the football club Manchester United by BSkyB, in which Newscorp has a 40 per cent stake.

There is nothing illegal about the group's activities. In response to questions from The Economist, Mr Murdoch's US holding company News Corporation said: "News Corporation and its subsidiaries, including News International, prepares and files tax returns in every jurisdiction in which they do business. The company's tax returns and payments are reviewed on a regular basis by relevant tax authorities."