Protesters have marked Sunday’s day of action against tax avoidance by staging sit-ins at UK stores accused of denying the country much-needed cash.
In central London, members of the campaign group Uncut occupied a branch of Boots in Oxford Street.
Dressed in surgical masks and bloody bandages, they claimed the pharmacy chain should be paying tens of millions of pounds in additional taxes every year that could go towards improving UK hospitals.
Around 30 such protests were planned across the UK, with demonstrators focusing on retailers Boots and Tesco, and brands such as Walkers Crisps and Cadbury.
In the heart of London’s shopping district, around 20 protesters appeared to take shop security by surprise when they entered the branch of Boots in Oxford Street at around 1pm. As they conducted their sit-down protest, shoppers were escorted out of the premises and the store shut its doors to the public.
Uncut accuses the retailer of depriving the UK taxman out of huge sums of money by being registered in Switzerland, where taxes are far lower.
Responding to Uncut’s criticisms, a Boots spokeswoman said that it established itself in Switzerland because “in the longer term we believe it will better reflect the increasingly international nature of our wider group”.
She added: “If we had registered in Switzerland purely for tax reasons there are many other countries that we could have considered.”
The Boots spokeswoman added that it had contributed to the UK’s finances through increased business rates and National Insurance contributions resulting from the expansion of the brand.
The occupations were the latest in a string of stunts aimed at drawing attention to Uncut’s cause. Previous actions have included a “read-in” at Vodafone stores and a “sports day” in Top Shop aimed at highlighting the effect of Government spending cuts on libraries and schools sports programmes.