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Splashing the ash: Top Tory MPs wined and dined by tobacco giant

Politicians given tickets to cricket, the opera and more

Big money: Tobacco makers are giving politicians jollies


Tory MPs have been treated to lavish hospitality from a tobacco giant as the industry fights new curbs on selling cigarettes.

Plans to ban branding and make firms sell cigs in plain packs are being fiercely resisted by the companies.

And leading Tory Philip Hammond was one of 21 MPs – 19 of them Conservative – entertained by Benson & Hedges maker JapanTobacco International.

They have enjoyed trips to cricket Test matches, the opera, Chelsea Flower Show and even a pop concert at the firm’s expense in the past year, Parliament’s register of MPs’ interests shows.

Defence Secretary Mr Hammond and wife Susan took flower show tickets worth £1,132.80 and fellow Tory minister Crispin Blunt went to a Test match in a treat valued at £694.80.

In all, the firm shelled out more than £23,000 wining and dining politicians and their friends or family at premier events.

Campaign group Action on Smoking Health said the jaunts were an opportunity for the tobacco industry to lobby MPs against proposed new laws.

A spokesman said: “The tobacco industry uses these jollies as a way to have a quiet word in the ear of sympathetic MPs.”

Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans was treated to the flower show and with tickets for a Paul McCartney gig. Tory Brian Binley, of the Commons Business committee, took tickets to Glyndebourne opera festival and the flower show.

Those given cricket tickets were Nazi stag do scandal MP Adain Burley, fellow Tories Oliver Colvile and Andrew Rosinnity dell, and Labour’s Simon Danczuk.

Other Tory MPs with flower show tickets were Solicitor General Edward Garnier, Alun Cairns, Michael Ellis, Mark Garnier, James Gray, Karl McCartney, Stephen Metcalfe, Richard Ottaway, Chris Pincher, Laurence Robertson, Mark Spencer, Angela Watkinson, and Labour’s Jim Dowd.

– More than 60% of the public support proposals for cigs to be sold in plain packaging, a YouGov survey found

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