PROPERTY giant Peel Group – at the centre of a long-running legal row over the Whitebirk retail park between Blackburn and Hyndburn – has hit back at a senior MP for accusing it of failing to pay enough corporation tax .

House of Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge levelled the charge, suggesting the BBC should have found an alternative landlord for its move to MediaCityUK in Salford.

The former Labour minister, who recently attacked Google, Amazon and Starbucks for paying too little tax, said: “They do not pay their fair share.”

Peel, which owns a significant chunk of Blackburn’s commercial town centre, rejected the criticism, adding it had not been asked to give evidence to the Parliamentary hearing.

Mrs Hodge spoke out when she quizzed senior BBC management including Burnley-born BBC North director Peter Salmon about relocating to Salford.

During the session at MediaCityUK on Monday, Mrs Hodge criticised Peel for paying a maximum of 10 per cent in corporation tax, claiming that some parts of the Manchester-based group pay no tax at all as they are based abroad.

She said: “Peel almost have a monopoly of a lot of capital investment in this area, which always worries me as to whether you, the BBC, gets the best price.”

Mrs Hodge added that the BBC should have tried harder to find a company that paid more tax.

A spokesman for The Peel Group, founded by Ramsbottom-raised millionaire John Whittaker, said: “Following comments made at the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Monday, The Peel Group would like to make it clear that it rejects any assertion that it is not paying its fair share of corporation tax.

“All Peel operating businesses, including Peel Media (the developers and owners of MediaCityUK), are UK domiciled for taxation purposes and pay the appropriate level of UK tax.

“Peel was not invited to provide any information to the PAC prior to Monday's hearing and would be more than happy to do so on request.”

The company is currently asking the Court of Appeal in London to overturn a ban on the expansion of Whitebirk Retail Park despite losing a High Court case last month.

“The hearing is due later this summer.

Peel also owns green belt land south of Rawtenstall being considered for housing development.