Editorial: A dangerous admission, Sir Martin

Statements of the obvious can be fraught with peril. Just ask Gerald Ratner, who wiped £500m off the value of his jewellery business by admitting that many of its cheap-as-chips products were, in fact, "total crap".

Now it is advertising mogul Sir Martin Sorrell who may live to regret his candour. According to the WPP chief executive, the amount of corporation tax that large businesses pay is largely "a question of judgement", the final figure dependent more on a desire not to upset consumers than anything else.

Given recent revelations about various multinationals' creative (yet legal) tax arrangements – and Starbucks's attempt to make the furore go away with an arbitrary £20m donation to HM Revenue & Customs – Sir Martin's observation hardly comes as a surprise. It is one thing to suspect the truth, however, and quite another to hear it from the horse's mouth.