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Highland Council accused of bankrolling killer industry over stake in tobacco trade

A COUNCIL has been accused of bankrolling an industry that kills more than 10,000 Scots every year after its pension fund upped its investments in the tobacco trade.

Highland Council, which promotes healthy living, has been accused of being hypocritical after making multi-million-pound investments in the tobacco industry.

The value of the pension fund’s investment in one of the world’s biggest tobacco funds increased last year.

The fund’s stake in British American Tobacco — producers of the Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Benson & Hedges brands — increased from £12.6 million to £15.15 million last year.

John Finnie, list MSP for Highlands and Islands for the Greens and a former Highland councillor, said:

“The scheme manages £1.5 billion that could provide a secure future for employees while investing in work that benefits society. Instead, it bankrolls an industry that kills over 10,000 Scots every year.”

Council leader Margaret Davidson said the pension fund has a legal obligation to best serve its beneficiaries.

Councillor David Alston, who chairs the council’s health board, said the legal requirements of the pension fund should be changed.

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