Chatham House

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Chatham House, or the Royal Institute of International Affairs, describes itself an “independent policy institute” and is based in London.1 According to the website, its “mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world”.12

The think tank has history of involvement with various corporate members, including British American Tobacco (BAT).

As of 2020, the Chatham House website stated that it does not accept funding from the tobacco industry.3 It is not clear from their website which year this funding ceased.

Funded by BAT

Funding declarations

British American Tobacco was listed as one of Chatham House’s “major corporate members” until at least 2015.4 BAT was listed as a donor in its 2014-15 and 2015-16 donor reports.56

However, BAT was not listed as a corporate donor in its 2015 or 2016 annual reviews.78 As separate donor reports for the years 2016-2017 and onwards are not available on the Chatham House website, it is not possible to verify the date when BAT’s funding ceased.

Annual reports published from 2017 do not list BAT as a funder.91011

Historical Funding

Internal tobacco industry documents, now publicly available, reveal that Chatham House has a history of receiving money from BAT, sometimes giving funding in addition to its annual corporate membership fees:

In 1990, Chatham House began a major fundraising appeal to coincide with its 70th Anniversary. BAT’s chair, Patrick Sheehy, was a member of Chatham House’s Fundraising Board,12 and the tobacco company funded the refurbishment of the library, donating £70,000 towards it.131415

BAT believed that funding the library was the most comprehensive way the tobacco company could achieve “impact” with its money. BAT noted that:

“A number of options of the most effective way of supporting the Chatham House Campaign have been explored including an annual lecture and endowing a junior research fellowship. However these proposals would involve either considerable organizational input from BAT or would not have sufficient impact.”16

In 1996, BAT paid £23,500 towards the “Sponsorship for Former Soviet South Project.”17

BAT’s other Involvement with Chatham House

Use Chatham House to “Counter” Critical Report on Smoking

In December 1983, the fourth Royal College of Physicians Report, “Health or Smoking?” was published. For the first time, the report examined the health risks of passive smoking and called for an end to tobacco advertising and promotion18

One undated BAT document revealed how the tobacco company proposed to use Chatham House in its public relations strategy to counter the Royal College’s report.19 The document stated:

“The purpose of this note is to suggest an approach to the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC), who wish to create some publicity for the benefits of tobacco growing in the developing countries, so as to provide a counter to the critical comment that may well emerge from the Royal College of Physicians Report later in the year.” The company suggested a seminar should be organised, with an aim “to publicise the contribution of tobacco to the economic development of many countries overseas”.19

The proposed venue was “at an institution such as Chatham House or at a central hotel”. The event was to be organised by BAT and TAC.19 It is unclear from the documents whether the event went ahead.

Getting “Closer to the corporate members”

In the mid-1980s, one BAT executive noted that: “In their desire to make Chatham House more relevant, they would like to get closer to their corporate members”.20

BAT a Council Member

By the late-1980s, BAT’s chairman Patrick Sheehy was a Council Member of Chatham House.21

Internal Market Project

In the late-1980s, BAT co-sponsored Chatham House’s “project on the Internal Market, which culminated in the publication of Europe’s Domestic Market”.22

Russian Project “Addresses the Interests” of Corporate Sponsors

By the mid-1990s, BAT and its employees were considered “active participants in the Institute’s activities, including sitting on the Russian and CIS Programme”.23 As part of this, the company sponsored the Former Soviet South project.24

The benefits BAT reaped as a result of its sponsorship of Chatham House are further detailed in internal documents. One from Chatham House noted:

“The project is funded by companies investing in the region and the highest priority is given to addressing those companies’ interests in all aspects of the project’s work – from setting the research agenda and topics for publication, round tables and briefings, to helping develop contacts with specialists and officials in the West and the CIS.”25

Another internal document from BAT revealed how important these meetings were to the company to give it an inside track to key government officials and other influential people in the post-Soviet debate:

Chatham House’s “value is in the contacts made at the meetings and picking up some issues that might not have been discussed publicly. There are usually Foreign Office officials and key journalists present as well as academics and businessmen”.26

Facilitated the Visit of the Argentinean President

In 1995, BAT was asked to help facilitate the President of Argentina’s business links on a visit to Britain. The tobacco company proposed that it arrange for the President to give a talk at Chatham House.27

Chatham House’s China Task Force

In the 1990s, BAT was one of the Member Companies of the Chatham House China Task Force 28, whose remit was to “cover the handover of Hong Kong and to ensure continuing good relations with the Chinese”.29 To be a member of the Taskforce, BAT had to donate £15,000 to £20,000 and chair 4-5 meetings a year.30

The China Task Force was strategically important to BAT, as during this period the company was trying to force a relaxation of the Chinese investment restrictions and gain greater access to the lucrative Chinese market.31

By the late nineties, BAT’s chairman at the time, Martin Broughton, was invited to be in the “inner core” of UK-China Forum.32 At one stage the Chair of the Forum was ex-Conservative politician, Michael Heseltine.33 In 1999, Martin Broughton was appointed Chairman of the UK-China Forum Industry Sub Group. 34 35

Included on the list of issues to be addressed by the subgroup was “British support for China’s membership of the WTO”.36 As noted in an academic paper by members of the Tobacco Control Research Group and others, BAT stood to gain tremendous economic benefits if China were to become a member of the World Trade Organisation as it would contribute “to significant concessions on the liberalization of the tobacco market in China”.37

In the paper, the academics argued that forums such as the UK-China Forum were important for BAT to “exert influence” because, “in both the United States and Europe, support for aligning domestic and foreign policy on tobacco was increasing.”37

Relevant Link

Chatham House website

TCRG publications

Trade Policy, Health, And Corporate Influence: British American Tobacco and China’s Accession to the World Trade Organisation, C. Holden, K. Lee, A. Gilmore, G. Fooks, and N. Wander, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 40, Number 3, pp 421–441, 2010, DOI: 10.2190/HS.40.3.c

For a comprehensive list of all TCRG publications, including research that evaluates the impact of public health policy, go to TCRG publications.

Tobacco Tactics Resources

References

  1. abChatham House, About us, website, undated, archived 9 January 2021, accessed February 2020
  2. Chatham House, website, about, accessed July 2014
  3. Chatham House, Our Funding, accessed February 2020
  4. Chatham House, Annual Review 2012–13 – Navigating the new geopolitics,
  5. Chatham House, Donors to Chatham House in 2014-15
  6. Chatham House, Donors to Chatham House in 2015-2016
  7. Chatham House, Annual Review, 2015
  8. Chatham House, Annual Review, 2016
  9. Chatham House, Annual Review, 2017
  10. Chatham House, Annual Review, 2018
  11. Chatham House, Annual Review, 2019
  12. Patrick Sheehy, membership of the Seventieth Anniversary Fundraising Board, 17 April 1900, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202213586
  13. Heather Honour, Note from Honour to Prideaux regarding the Chatham house appeal, 19 July 1990
  14. British American Tobacco, Extract of Minutes of Meeting of the Chairman’s Policy Committee held on 20th July 1990, 20 July 1990, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 201147053
  15. Patrack Sheehy, Letter from P Sheehy to Christopher Tugendhat regarding the BAT Industries’ donation to the Chatham House Appeal, 31 July 1990, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202212312
  16. British American Tobacco, Chatham House, 19 July 1990, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 201147054
  17. Chatham House Enterprises, Invoice in favor of British-American Tobacco Company Limited, 15 October 1996, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 700410971
  18. Action on Smoking and Health, Key Dates in Tobacco Regulation, 1962-2020
  19. abcBritish American Tobacco, Proposed Seminar on Tobacco in the Developing Countries, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 100299011-100299012
  20. EJ Symons, from EJ Symons to Chairman regarding the Chatham House – Royal Institute of International Affairs, 29 May 1984, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 201003284
  21. Patrick Sheehy, Letter from Patrick Sheehy to Helmut Maucher regarding Royal Institute of International affairs, 28 November 1988, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202206959-202206960
  22. Patrick Sheehy, Letter from Patrick Sheehy to Antony Pilkington regarding enlist support, 28 November 1988, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202206962-202206963
  23. Keith Gretton, Membership of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 17 May 1994, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202200218
  24. Royal Institute of International Affairs, Rural and Agricultural Development in Uzbekistan, 1995, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 700414238-700414242
  25. The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Former Soviet South Project – Benefits for Consortium Members Former Soviet South Project – Benefits for Consortium Members, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 800193905-800193906
  26. Heather Honour, Royal Institute of International Affairs: Post Soviet Business Forum, 20 January 1995, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 500035464
  27. Michael Leach, Presidential Visit to Britain, 24 November 1995, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321425538-321425539
  28. Member Companies of the Chatham House China Task Force, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number:321356558
  29. Chatham House China Task Force, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 322121972
  30. Heather Honour, Chatham House: China Project, 9 January 1995, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 202238690-202238693
  31. British American Tobacco, Prime Minister’s Visit to China, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321357201
  32. David Wall, Letter from David Wall to Martin Broughton regarding UK-China Forum, 27 January 1999, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321357403
  33. Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK-China Forum: Inaugural Meeting – 15th February, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321357386-321357387
  34. British American Tobacco, Martin Broughton FCA, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321308956
  35. Nicola Shears, Note from Nicola Shears to Wei Ming Ooi regarding China task force, 2 July 1999, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321357338
  36. British American Tobacco, UK China Forum: Industry Sub-Group, 13 May, 1999, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates Number: 321357344
  37. abC. Holden, K. Lee, A. Gilmore, G. Fooks, and N. Wander, Trade Policy, Health, And Corporate Influence: British American Tobacco and China’s Accession to the World Trade Organisation, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 40, Number 3, pp 421–441, 2010, DOI: 10.2190/HS.40.3.c
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