Cancer Research UK responds to BBC Panorama claims of wrong doing by British American Tobacco in Africa

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is calling for an urgent inquiry into whether criminal offences have been committed under the Bribery Act 2010 after claims made in tonight’s BBC Panorama.

"These allegations need urgent attention by the appropriate authorities, both here and overseas." - Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK

The programme alleges that British American Tobacco Group making payments in Africa to politicians including Government Ministers and officials.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "We are appalled by the allegations presented in this programme. For any company to pay for access to government and officials to influence legislation is bad enough. But if that company is doing it so that it can more easily sell deadly products, it’s outrageous. The Bribery Act is in place to ensure that corporations cannot unduly influence policy makers through improper payments to individuals. This ensures that governments put the best interests of society as a whole first. These allegations need urgent attention by the appropriate authorities, both here and overseas."

Allegations made on Panorama include that BAT Group money has been used to buy influence with politicians, get information and make changes to tobacco control legislation, and to gain market information to undermine competitors.

The programme alleged that in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, BAT Group employees and agents appear to have used payments to get access to draft tobacco control laws and to secure changes that benefited the tobacco industry.

BAT is the biggest tobacco company in Africa, with the largest market share in two thirds of African countries.

ENDS

For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 0203 469 8300 or, out or hours, on 07050 264 059.