David Cameron denies being lobbied by Mr Crosby on tobacco policy
Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett has written to David Cameron to ask about his election strategist’s influence on tobacco policy.
He asked whether Lynton Crosby was involved in the government’s decision to delay plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging in England.
It comes as the Times reports that Mr Crosby’s company is employed in the UK by cigarette makers Philip Morris Ltd.
Mr Cameron has denied he was ever lobbied on tobacco policy by Mr Crosby.
Mr Cameron also insisted he was “unaware” of Australian-born Mr Crosby’s role as a consultant to Philip Morris, the world’s biggest tobacco company.
‘Something to hide’
The Times said Mr Crosby’s lobbying firm Crosby Textor (CTF) has been advising Philip Morris, whose brands include Marlboro, since November.
CTF was also employed by British American Tobacco in Australia, but the company said the lobbyists did not work on its campaign against plain packaging there.
In the letter, Labour’s Mr Trickett asked Mr Cameron whether he would sack Mr Crosby if he refused to give up his “conflicting interests”.
He also suggested if Mr Cameron did not give some clear answers on the matter, it would lead to a “growing perception” that the government had “something to hide”.
In a second letter to Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, he asked whether Mr Crosby’s reported commercial interests alongside his advisory role to the prime minister amounted to a breach of the ministerial code.
Under the plans, the standardised packets would be the same colour, with the same font, and carry a prominent graphic warning.
The decision was said to have been delayed to allow more time to examine how similar plans have worked in Australia, where plain packaging was introduced last year.
Labour said the move was a “humiliating U-turn” but Conservative health minister Anna Soubry said she “would never give into pressure” and waiting for more evidence was “sensible”.
The Scottish government says it will press ahead with its own plans to introduce plain packaging.
The Welsh government said it was “disappointed” by the delay and would consider “the way forward” while the Northern Ireland executive said it would like to see a “UK-wide” response to the issue.