Terry Leahy can't win. If the Tesco chief executive were to chalk up £3bn worth of pre-tax profits, immediately donate £1bn to the farmers and then give another £1bn to the National Union of Journalists Benevolent Fund he would still find a pack of marauding hacks snapping at his heels, eager to prove that Britain's class supermarket act was profiteering. And so it was this week. Indeed, four days before the multiple served up its dish of good news to the City, parts of the media were searching out groups of disgruntled farmers, not to mention a motley collection of self appointed retailing gurus, who were prepared to condemn Tesco for "plundering profits" at a time when Britain's farming community was on it's knees. So it was interesting to see the NFU's unprecedented message of support for Britain's top grocer, urging its members to work with the multiple rather than against it. Not that that cut much ice with some broadcasting hacks. We were still treated to a fusillade punctuated with dark suggestions from unnamed Whitehall figures that multiple power could be the subject of a new Whitehall probe once foot and mouth is eliminated and a little matter of a June General Election is done and dusted. Never mind that Tesco has made £1bn before tax without increasing its margins, and never mind that it has already done a lot to develop the businesses of significant local producers in the very Shires the media claims to protect, the campaign to put the multiples under the microscope again is well into its embryo stage. We don't need an expensive "Competition Commission Probe Mark 2". Provided the NFU gets its way, the DTI's code of trading practice will give all the supply chain protection that Britain's farmers require. So, is it too much to hope that, by the time Tesco's next set of annual figures comes around, even the severest media critics will be hard pressed to find something to moan about? Or will some always see the more successful supermarkets as the villains of the piece? Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}