BMJ Editor resigns from Nottingham University over BAT blood money



Friday 18 May 2001

Embargo: 00:01 Friday 18 May  2001

ASH applauded the decision of Richard Smith,­ editor of the British Medical Journal, to resign from his post as professor of medical journalism at Nottingham University in protest at the University’s decision to accept £3.8 million sponsorship from British American Tobacco.  BAT is funding an “International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility”.

The BMJ established a poll among its readers which asked two questions: whether the Nottingham University was right to accept the donation, and whether Richard Smith should resign his post.  With over a thousand responses, the decision to accept the money was condemned by a large majority (85:15), but there was a closer vote on whether he should resign (55:45).  Voters were divided on whether he should fight from the inside, or pull out in protest [1]

The condemnation of BAT and the university is unambiguous and richly deserved, and backed up by testimony of BMJ readers. But ASH believes that though there are arguments both ways on resignation, the readers were right to support his resignation. ASH Director Clive Bates said:

 

ASH has been campaigning for the university to return the money since the announcement was made in December last year. There has been world wide condemnation of the move and protests on campus. [2]

[1] www.bmj.com/content/322/7294/1118.1.short

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Contact: Clive Bates, 020 7739 5902 (w) 077 6879 1237 (m) 020 8800 1336 (h) or Karl Brookes at ASH