Kwasi Kwarteng

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Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed Secretary of State at the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 8 January 2021.1

Links to British American Tobacco (BAT)

All Party Parliamentary Groups

In 2015, Kwarteng was on the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Governance Group. One of the funders to the APPG was BAT, which donated £5,000.2

Hospitality

In 2018, BAT paid for a dinner for Kwarteng. 3 At the time Kwarteng was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.1

Financial Reporting Council

In late 2021, DBEIS issued a press release stating that the “Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng” had “announced that Jan du Plessis is the government’s preferred candidate to become the new Chair of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which promotes transparency and integrity in business.”4

In a letter to Kwarteng, the Tobacco Control Research Group drew the Minister’s attention “to the fact that Mr. du Plessis had a nearly twenty-year career within the tobacco industry.” The letter continued: “Given the remit of his proposed role, we believe that you should urgently consider in your deliberations that during the time of Mr. du Plessis’ chairmanship of BAT, the company was accused of numerous unethical and illegal activities that could suggest he is unfit to hold this role.”5

In response, the DBEIS responded that “The Department is satisfied that it has properly considered all factors before nominating Sir Jan as its preferred candidate.”6

Dealings with Philip Morris International

Vectura

In 2021, Philip Morris International (PMI) acquired the inhaler maker, Vectura. In the months before the takeover, Kwarteng as Business Secretary, and his counterpart Sajid Javid as Health Secretary, were under pressure to block the takeover.

In July, Kwarteng reportedly sent PMI a note in writing that “while government has no role in the strategic direction or management of private sector companies, the proposed transaction has raised concerns with various stakeholders and my officials will be monitoring the situation”.7

Also that month, Kwarteng was contacted by British health charities, including Cancer Research UK, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership, and Action on Smoking and Health, noting that “There is a real prospect that PMI will use this acquisition to legitimise tobacco industry participation in health debates within the UK. This must not be allowed to happen”.8

The following month, in August 2021, European respiratory organisations wrote to both Kwarteng and Javid urging “UK regulators to use their authority to intervene in the deal, in the interest of protecting public health and public confidence in essential medical supply chains”.9

Later in August, eighteen American medical, patient and health organizations, also wrote to Kwarteng and Health Secretary Sajid Javid urging them to “use your leadership authority to prevent the sale of Vectura to the tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris International (PMI). It is clear that PMI’s acquisition of Vectura is not in the best interests of the public, lung disease patients or even the medical drug and device industry.”10

In October 2021, The Times newspaper reported that “concerns have increased” that PMI would use its £1 billion takeover of Vectura to “legitimise the tobacco industry’s participation in public health”. PMI’s CEO, Jack Olczak had written to Kwarteng, seeking a meeting to “talk more about our plans for PMI and Vectura’s operation in the UK”. As of January 2022, the BEIS had not disclosed its online its ministerial meetings for that time period.11

Ultimately the takeover took place without Government intervention.12

TobaccoTactics Resources

Vectura

References

  1. abKwasi Kwarteng, UK Government website, undated, accessed January 2022
  2. UK Parliament, Register Of All-Party Groups [as at 30 March 2015], website, accessed January 2022
  3. Department For Exiting the European Union, Transparency data: Ministerial hospitality, October to December 2018, entry for 12 March 2018, accessed July 2021
  4. Department Of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Jan du Plessis named as Business Secretary’s candidate for Chair of Financial Reporting Council, press release, 22 December 2021, accessed January 2022
  5. TCRG, Letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, 10 January 2022
  6. Helen Huish, Letter to the Tobacco Control Research Group, DBEIS, 25 January 2022
  7. Alex Ralph, Tobacco giant is accused of lobbying over Vectura, The Times,  October 25 2021, accessed January 2022
  8. Marlboro maker’s takeover of UK ventilator firm Vectura must be stopped, say lung cancer charities, This is Money website, 15 July 2021, accessed January 2022
  9. Professor Anita Simonds, President of the European Respiratory Society and Prof. Jonathan Grigg, Chair of the European Respiratory Society Tobacco Control Committee, Letter to Kwasi Kwarteng and Sajid Javid, 06 August 2021, accessed January 2022
  10. Action on Smoking and Health (Washington, DC, USA); Allergy and Asthma Network, Alpha-1 Foundation, American Association for Respiratory Care, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, COPD Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute, Dorney-Koppel Foundation, Hermansky-Pudlak Sundrome Network, PCD Foundation, Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Respiratory Health Association, The LAM Foundation, US COPD Coalition, Letter to Kwarteng and Javid, 17 August 2021, accessed January 2022
  11. A. Ralph, Tobacco giant is accused of lobbying over Vectura, The Times,  October 25 2021, accessed January 2022
  12. P. Aripaka, S. Cavale, Philip Morris seals deal for UK’s Vectura despite health group concerns, Reuters, 16 September 2021, accessed January 2022
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