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Following revelations in the Times that the Prime Minister’s self-appointed adviser, Lynton Crosby, is also a lobbyist for a major tobacco company, I have written letters to the Prime Minister and Sir Jeremy Heywood about a potentially serious breach of the ministerial code along with key questions that urgently need answering.
1. Jon Trickett’s letter to the Prime Minister:
Dear Prime Minister,
Following yesterday’s statement from your Government that you are postponing any introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes I wrote to you (dated 12 July, 2013) regarding suggestions that the policy had been influenced by your election strategist, Lynton Crosby.
Today we have seen reports in The Times newspaper that Mr Crosby’s company, CTF, has been employed in the UK by Philip Morris Ltd since November of last year. These are important revelations which I believe raise a number of additional important questions. I would be grateful if you could provide answers to the following:
As I have previously written, you and your fellow ministers have to date refused to adequately answer questions on this matter, instead taking refuge in saying you have ‘never been lobbied’ by Mr Crosby on the matter of cigarettes – a very narrow definition of the numerous questions you have been asked on this matter.
The questions that have been put to you on numerous occasions are of considerable public interest. Until you give clear and full answers on the role of Mr Crosby, your silence and continued revelations in the press-such as those in today’s Times newspaper-can only add to a growing perception that your government is seeking to avoid scrutiny in this matter and that you have something to hide.
I look forward to hearing from you very soon.
Jon Trickett MP
2. Jon Trickett’s letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary:
Dear Sir Jeremy,
I write with reference to the role of Lynton Crosby, his role working for the Prime Minister as election strategist, and possible conflicts of interest.
Yesterday the Government announced that it was postponing introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes. Today’s reports in the Times Newspaper today suggest that Mr Crosby’s company is currently employed by Philip Morris Ltd and that one of the issues they have advised their client on is standardised packaging.
I have today written to the Prime Minister to ask him a number of questions about the role of Mr Crosby. I await his reply. I would also like to ask you to provide reassurance on a number of matters relating to wider Government business and the role of Mr Crosby.
In relation to possible conflicts of interest, you will be aware that the Ministerial Code says the following:
“7.12 Ministers should take care to ensure that they do not become associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with Government policy and thus give rise to a conflict of interest.”
In your view, given Mr Crosby’s reported commercial interests, is his work for the Prime Minister and possible advice completely in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Ministerial Code in this area?
Additionally, while Mr Crosby is employed by the Government and the Conservative Party, it expected that his work brings him regularly into contact with ministers and to attendance at meetings in Number 10 and other Government buildings. I would therefore ask the following questions:
Given the public interest in these matters I am releasing a copy of this letter to the press.
Jon Trickett MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office