Out to BAT

Friday 26 March 2004

ASH news release:    Friday 26th March 2004


Out to BAT

Responding to news that the Department of Trade and Industry is to take no further action against British American Tobacco over its role in global tobacco smuggling Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:


“If we had effective freedom of information laws in the UK this report would be published. It is a scandal that it has been kept secret. This investigation was started in October 2000, following the unanimous recommendation by the Health Select Committee that the DTI should investigate allegations of BAT’s involvement in global smuggling. Nearly four years later the Secretary of State has slipped out the announcement that no further action will be taken out on a Friday morning – a clear attempt to get as little publicity as possible.”


Chair of the Health Select Committee, David Hinchliffe said:


“I am asking urgently for a full copy of the report in view of the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that my Committee called unanimously for this investigation to be carried out. We said at the time that we would call for an apology to be issued by those making the allegations if they were found to be false. However, a bald statement that the DTI ‘has not uncovered material indicating a basis for launching a criminal investigation’ is not the same as vindication, as the DTI themselves pointed out in their press release.  BAT were asked at the Select Committee hearings if they were going to take libel action against the Guardian over the allegations.  Four years later they have still not done so.”


ASH have asked the DTI whether they also made a proper assessment of whether or not there is sufficient evidence for a civil action, but have as yet received no reply.





Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available