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UK Politics

Google chief Eric Schmidt to meet David Cameron days after MPs maul search giant over tax affairs

Commons Public Accounts Committee members yesterday branded company 'devious,' 'calculating' and 'unethical'

The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, will meet the Prime Minister next week, just days after a Commons select committee mauled the tech giant over its tax affairs.

Downing Street confirmed that Mr Schmidt is expected to visit Number 10 on Monday to attend a regular quarterly meeting of David Cameron's Business Advisory Group.

The Google chief is one of 16 members of the group, set up in 2010 as a sounding board for the PM to hear business leaders' concerns and priorities and discuss the Government's policies for the economy and growth, and has regularly taken part in its gatherings.

A Downing Street spokesman said that Monday's meeting has been in the diary for some time and was not called in response to the recent controversy over the levels of tax Google pays in the UK. Details of the discussions are not normally released by Downing Street, but the spokesman said he was not aware of any plans for multinationals' tax arrangements to be on the agenda.

MPs yesterday branded Google "devious," "calculating" and "unethical" during a stormy session of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, in which members stepped up pressure on the search engine over its efforts to shelter its multi-million pound profits from UK taxes by completing ad sales in Ireland.

Vice president Matt Brittin, Google's head of operations in Northern Europe, insisted that he stood by evidence he gave last year that all the company's European sales were routed through its operation in Ireland and so were not liable to UK taxes.

But he was told by committee chairman Margaret Hodge: "You are a company that says you do no evil and I think that you do do evil in that you use smoke and mirrors to avoid paying tax."