Google could land up in the Tower of London

A committee of the House of Commons summoned a Google executive to give testimony again today and raised the possibility that the corporation might find itself in contempt of parliament.

The Public Accounts Committee is investigating why multinational corporations are not paying enough tax, even while they are clocking up huge revenues.

Chair of the committee, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, claimed she had documents from whistleblowers that showed Google transacted business in the UK. Google maintains that no money changes hand in the UK.

Under parliamentary procedures, “a person prevaricating or giving false evidence can be considered to be in contempt of the House”.

She described Google as “evil”.

Google’s head of sales in northern Europe, Matt Brittin, maintains that the £3 billion (~$5 billion) in revenues is routed through Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. A nervous looking Brittin said Google had done nothing wrong.

Hodge told Brittin that the committee will continue to investigate until it gets “to the bottom” of the matter.  The UK parliament has the power to levy heavy penalties for contempt, but the Tower of London is no longer a prison so any Google person convicted of contempt could end up in Pentonville.