Tesco has insisted it will not put pressure on non-executive director Carolyn McCall to leave the board, despite its legal wrangle with The Guardian newspaper, which is owned by the company she runs.

McCall, who is chief executive of Guardian Media Group, has held her non-executive role at Tesco for the past two years and was paid£62,000 by the supermarket group last year.

According to a report in The Independent, Tesco said it would stand by McCall. “Carolyn has absented herself from any board discussions on this issue,” a Tesco spokesman told the paper. “As to whether she will be forced to stand down, she will not be by us – we believe she has a valuable contribution to make.”

The report also quoted a Guardian Media Group spokesman, who said: “Since The Guardian first published a story on this, Carolyn McCall has absented herself from all Tesco discussions and decisions on the issue.”

Tesco has filed a High Court writ against The Guardian, because the paper claimed in a story that Tesco had avoided paying£1 billion in tax through an offshore structure. The supermarket contests the claim and said that its business is suffering as a result of the story.

Separately, McCall, who has 22 years’ experience in publishing, was last night named winner of the 2008 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award.