Media Intelligence Partners

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Background

Media Intelligence Partners (MIP) was founded in 2004 by Nick Wood, who is a former Communications Director for the UK Conservative Party, who worked for the MPs William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith.[1] MIP still works for the think-tank which was set up by Iain Duncan Smith in 2004, the Centre for Social Justice.[2][3]

The company’s website highlights the political and media experience of its staff: “With backgrounds in Downing Street, the White House, national newspapers and international campaigning our staff bring a wealth of experience to a client’s campaign,” it says.[4]

Penny Mordaunt who is the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, and who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2014 [5], has past links to MIP.

Mordaunt used to be a director of MIP but resigned her position on 22 March 2010, eight days after her links with the lobby firm were highlighted in the Observer newspaper.[6] [7]

Working for Philip Morris International

Against Plain Packaging

In response to the plain packaging evidence review conducted by Sir Cyril Chantler, on behalf the UK Government in 2014, MIP acted as media contacts for PMI, reiterating many of the tobacco industry arguments against plain packaging. The contacts for the press release were William Walter, who is Director of Campaigns at MIP - who used to work for three different Conservative MPs: David Willetts MP; James Duddridge MP; Nigel Waterson MP - as well as Alistair Thompson, MIP's Managing Director, who is currently a senior member of the Conservative Group on Portsmouth Council.[8][9][10]

The press release contended that illicit tobacco levels in Australia had risen since the introduction of plain packaging in December 2012, despite the fact that Chantler had dismissed this research as “flawed” and the Australian Government condemned it as “not accurate”. See Plain Packaging: Have Illicit Levels Risen in Australia?

As well as:

Scaremongering on Illicit in the UK

PMI's media activity timeline plan, PMI Corporate Affairs Update, February 2012

On the eve of the UK Government’s first public consultation on plain packaging, on 15 April 2012, MIP issued a press release on behalf of PMI which released a poll which claimed that “UK residents overwhelmingly believe a ban on branded packs would increase the black market for cigarettes”. The press release also went on to mention research by London Economics which showed “that plain packaging would result in consumer preferences shifting from premium to cheaper products, making cigarettes more affordable.”[11]

The press release was part of a well-planned public relations campaign by PMI to derail plain packaging legislation in the UK. Leaked PMI documents reveal the precisely planned detail of the campaign. One “Media Activity Timeline” shows that the London Economics research and poll, fitted into a carefully crafted plan to oppose plain packaging. [12]

Three months later, in July 2012, MIP issued another press release on behalf of PMI which contended that: “Government plans to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products will make it easier for criminals to produce and sell illegal cigarettes, according to a new poll of serving police officers.”[13] This Populus poll of 501 police officers was funded by PMI.

Again the release also was part the wider PR campaign, including the strategy of using third-parties such as Policemen and ex-Policemen, to push the company’s message.

To this end, PMI has employed Will O’Reilly, an ex-Scotland Yard detective, to scaremonger over illicit levels in the local, regional and national press. For more on this see:

Freedom of Information Requests to Local Councils

In the autumn of 2014, Alistair Thompson from MIP started sending Freedom of Information requests asking for information relating to smoking, eating and drinking to local authorities.

As part of the request he asked for illicit trade rates for tobacco. It is unclear whether the requests were sent on behalf of PMI. [14]

Lobbying on the Tobacco Products Directive

MIP also actively lobbied on behalf of PMI on the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision (TPD).

Lobbying disclosure records by Conservative MEPs reveal that in May 2103, Matthew Walsh, the Director of Corporate Affairs at MIP met the Conservative MEP Giles Chichester on behalf of MIP/Philip Morris to talk about the TPD.[15]

For more on this see:

Non-Disclosure About PMI on its Website

Although MIP discloses some of its clients on its website, it is interesting that PMI is not one of them.[16][17][18]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. Media Intelligence Partners, Us, Website, accessed November 2014
  2. MIP, clients website, accessed November 2014
  3. Centre for Social Justice, History, Website, accessed November 2014
  4. Media Intelligence Partners, Team, Website, accessed November 2014
  5. Gov.UK, Penny Mordaunt MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, accessed November 2014
  6. Nick Mathiason, Embarrassment for David Cameron over Tory hopefuls' lobbying links, The Observer, 14 March 2010, accessed November 2014
  7. MIP, Companies House Records, accessed November 2014
  8. Philip Morris International, Philip Morris Response to Chantler Report and Government Statement on Plain Packaging, 3 April, 2014, accessed November 2014
  9. Media Intelligence Partners, William Walter, Website, accessed November 2014
  10. Media Intelligence Partners, Alistair Thompson, Website, accessed November 2014
  11. Media Intelligence Partners, New research shows concern that plain packaging 'risks rise in black market cigarettes', Press Release, 15 April 2012, Accessed November 2012
  12. Philip Morris International, UK Corporate Affairs Update, February 2012
  13. Media Intelligence Partners, Police warn that plain packaging of cigarettes will fuel organised crime and smuggling, Press Release, 3 July 2012, Accessed November 2012
  14. Alistair Thompson, FOI Request to Local Authority, autumn 2014
  15. Conservatives in Europe Lobbying Contacts Report, Jan-June 2013, accessed November 2014
  16. MIP Website, Clients, MIP Website as of 29 September 2013, accessed via Internet Web Archive, November 2014
  17. MIP Website, Clients, MIP Website as of 24 June 2014, accessed via Internet Web Archive, November 2014
  18. MIP Website, clients, accessed November 2014