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Lincoln MP Karl McCartney under fire over tobacco firm's ticket gift

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 05, 2012

Karl McCartney

Criticised: Lincoln MP Karl McCartney accepted tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show from the world's third largest tobacco company

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Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has come under fire for accepting tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show from the world's third largest tobacco company.

The Tory MP accepted hospitality totalling more than £1,300 from Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which produces Benson and Hedges and Silk Cut, in May.

The details were declared by Mr McCartney in the Register of Members' Interests.

Now, health charities have described his acceptance of the tobacco giant's hospitality as "disappointing" and the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health, Stephen Williams, has renewed calls on the Government to tighten up the regulation of lobbying.

Mr Williams, who is the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, made the demand after it was revealed that Mr McCartney wrote to the APPG on Smoking and Health asking for details of how the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is funded.

The letter also requested details about the number of people associated with ASH who have placements with the Department of Health and other areas of Government.

Mr Williams said: "I would expect every Member of Parliament to consider carefully what message they send out about the importance of public health if they accept hospitality from tobacco companies."

Martin Dockrell, director of policy and research at Action on Smoking and Health, said: "The Prime Minister says corporate lobbying goes to the heart of why people are fed up with politics and he is right.

"The Government's tobacco plan warns of the dangers of tobacco industry attempts to influence health policy.

"MPs don't always know when they are being lobbied by the big tobacco companies because they often hide behind a smokescreen of lobby firms and front groups."

Eileen Streets, director of tobacco control at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said "We are very disappointed to hear that Mr McCartney has accepted a hospitality package offered by a tobacco company."

Before winning the general election, Mr Cameron said in February 2010 that lobbying was an issue that "has tainted our politics for too long".

Existing rules on lobbying say MPs must not place themselves under any financial obligation to outside individuals or organisations and must not act as a paid advocate in any parliamentary proceedings.

Mr McCartney was unavailable for comment.

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  • IPTF2011  |  January 11 2012, 12:57AM

    Ah so he ran for MP on the issue of developing the common into a horse racing course whilst sitting on a horse racing course development board. His very well paid secretary is his wife. A wife who is a garden designer and they take tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show from a smoking lobby when one of his few other vocal positions is opposition to the smoking ban. The voters of Lincoln really selected a gem in Karl.

  • vpire  |  January 06 2012, 9:51PM

    Just looked at the site http://tinyurl.com/r5yb4o , absolutely shocking!

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  • Numb_Chumpy  |  January 06 2012, 7:41PM

    "Karl has asked about ASH's funding because I asked him to ask about it and last time I looked, MPs were supposed to work for their constituents" Indeed they are. I trust apologies will now be forthcoming from Stephen Williams, Winemaster et al. (Yes, that last sentence contained sarcasm. I'm well aware such people are psychologically incapable of admitting they are wrong.)

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  • Patnurse  |  January 06 2012, 2:51PM

    Shame too that the Echo did not add balance and inform its readership of the massive corporate lobbying that the anti-smoker industry such as Smoke Free orgs and Action on Smoking and Health do for their clients in Big Pharmaceutical companies - the ones that are in direct competition with what is now "Little" tobacco. ASH is secretive on its funding - most comes from Big Pharma and unwilling tax payers who have no choice but to fund it. If it had to rely on donations from the public as many hard working voluntary groups working for good causes have to, then it couldn't even afford its own office. £11,000 comes from the donations. The rest of £800,000 comes from corporate Big Pharma either directly or indirectly and Govt. Karl has asked about ASH's funding because I asked him to ask about it and last time I looked, MPs were supposed to work for their constituents and not Corporate unelected lobby groups such as ASH msquerading s "charities". Do check out the Fake charity site and you will ASH there. Marin Dockrell is a pure hypocrite. The Echo should be ashamed of such bias.

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  • Evelyn78  |  January 05 2012, 9:39PM

    Gnome_Chomsky? Gym_Davidson more like!

  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  January 05 2012, 8:38PM

    It's a shame that that nice Mr McCartney, advocate of such healthy pursuits as gambling and smoking, has been smeared by this attempt to suggest he took a massively overpriced gift from a tobacco company. Other public servants are allowed, under local authority codes of conduct for example, to receive gifts of 'nominal value', so long as they declare them. Such a shame he was not able to identify a friend or relative, even by marriage, who was in some way connected to the flower or garden trade and might have stumped up the odd complimentary ticket.

  • Numb_Chumpy  |  January 05 2012, 7:28PM

    "In fact it is my hope that this article will set the tone for the future, and this newspaper will follow this article up and in future be far more critical of Karl McCartney rather than seemingly providing him with a mouthpiece and a shelter from public criticism, as I believe it has done in the past." But you were quite happy for it to provide Gillian Merron with a mouthpiece and shelter from public crticisim as it so frequently did? I also love the way you're willing to brush Merron's gift from the BPI and her SUBSEQUENT voting in favour of by far more damaging and despicable legislation under the carpet. Very telling. "And as for your argument in point B - I find it ludicrous to suggest a relaxation in the smoking ban would not affect the profits of the tobacco companies in a positive way - just ludicrous!!!" Of course you do, because you've been parachuted in from Labour HQ with an agenda that's become more and more obvious with every comment you've made. You, sir, are nothing but a shill and like emmaretard, I refuse to waste any more of my time and energy on you. Good evening!

  • eatmygoal  |  January 05 2012, 6:29PM

    What is there to be critical of then? Are they to make stories up just to appease your lust for them being critical? Aside from that, my thoughts were that a local paper was there to report facts rather than give views on things. This article reports facts, the same as the one reported facts on him entering his pet into the MPs competition, the same as it reported on his first thing when getting into power was sorting out the spelling of his name.

  • Winemaster  |  January 05 2012, 6:26PM

    @emmaretard Good evening! @Numb_Chumpy So, you're honestly trying to tell me that receiving the gift 3 or 4 months after the vote rather than before actually makes a difference ethically to this issue? Many of us work for our pay before actually receiving it, very few of us get paid or receive stipends in advance. And as for your argument in point B - I find it ludicrous to suggest a relaxation in the smoking ban would not affect the profits of the tobacco companies in a positive way - just ludicrous!!! Whether or not your smoking habits would be affected or not is not really relevant to this discussion. If you really wish to support your arguments by saying this, well that's up to you.

  • Winemaster  |  January 05 2012, 5:33PM

    In fact it is my hope that this article will set the tone for the future, and this newspaper will follow this article up and in future be far more critical of Karl McCartney rather than seemingly providing him with a mouthpiece and a shelter from public criticism, as I believe it has done in the past. Far more scrutiny of this local MP please, and I'm sure that newspaper sales will go right up!

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