Ed Miliband: 'Boots boss Stefano Pessina should pay his taxes'

Miliband vowed to continue to "stand up to these powerful forces"

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Indy Politics

Ed Miliband has stepped up Labour’s counterattack on the head of Boots by telling the Monaco-based Stefano Pessina to stop lecturing voters and "start paying his taxes".

The Labour leader hit back at Mr Pessina’s warning at the weekend that  a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for Britain. Speaking at an Ask the Leaders event staged by Sky News and Facebook, he said: “I don't think people in Britain are going to take kindly to being lectured by someone who is avoiding his taxes on how they should be voting in the UK general election."

Mr Miliband vowed to continue to "stand up to these powerful forces" and take action to stop tax avoidance by people and companies. "You have now got this unholy alliance between the Conservative Party and people like him who are actually saying that the country can't change," he said. "Mr Pessina has been trying to lecture us about what we should be doing in this country. Frankly, I think he should be paying his taxes."

Labour sources claimed the Tories had scored “a monumental own goal” after George Osborne seized on Mr Pessina’s criticism of Labour. They said Labour would hit back hard at attacks by businessmen orchestrated by the Tories as part of what Labour expects to be a “dirty” election campaign.

Mr Pessina, who oversaw the £46m merger of Alliance Boots with American firm Walgreens and is now the company’s acting chief executive, said: "If they [Labour] acted as they speak it would be a catastrophe."

Walgreens Boots Alliance insisted: "The comments made by Stefano Pessina were a small part of a much larger conversation and have been taken out of context. As a businessman, international entrepreneur and investor, he takes a natural interest in a broad range of topics within the economic landscape of countries where he has business interests, like he has done previously in the UK, Europe and the USA.

"Stefano Pessina was expressing his personal views only and is not campaigning against Ed Miliband or the Labour Party."