Protest group was born from a Twitter hashtag

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The Independent Online

The group behind the occupation of the luxury food store Fortnum & Mason was created from a simple hashtag on Twitter.

In October last year, a week after the Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the country's biggest spending cuts for decades, a group of protesters entered Vodafone's Oxford Street store and sat down.

They claimed the global telecommunications company owed £6bn in unpaid UK tax, which should be used to avoid budgets being slashed for health, education, pensioners and the disabled. The occupation was organised using the phrase #ukuncut on Twitter, and the direct action group UK Uncut was born.

The group's website includes videos of past successes, a map of "tax dodgers and banks near Oxford Street", and an option to make your own placard, by downloading their logo. It claims: "Everyone from pensioners to teenagers, veterans to newbies have already joined our actions in towns from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth. We have proved that there is anger at these cuts, that the idea of mass apathy is a myth and that people are willing to ... stand up and defend what they believe in."

Boots, Tesco, Topshop, RBS and NatWest are among the shops and banks that have been criticised by UK Uncut. But campaign group The TaxPayers' Alliance said the protesters need to be "more rigorous" in researching their targets. Its director Matthew Sinclair said: "Too often UK Uncut has attacked targets on the basis of dubious reports of tax dodging, and seem more interested in moralising than getting a tax code that might actually limit avoidance."