During this period of Tory driven Austerity, Priti Patel has claimed over £400,000 in expenses in the last 4 years alone.
Before being sacked in disgrace for breaching the Ministerial Code by meeting with a foreign government, Israel, on her own with no permission nor guidance, The Tory Home Secretary, and former International Development Secretary & Tory employment minister Priti Patel was a spin doctor paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to counter negative publicity for the tobacco industry. Patel worked for Shandwick, a lobbying and PR firm that worked for British American Tobacco (BAT).
Patel was one of seven employees used by Shandwick on the account.
One of her jobs was to lobby MEPs against the introduction of the EU tobacco control directive, which was introduced shortly after the new millennium.
She was charged with ensuring that a letter from the BAT chairman at the time, Martin Broughton, outlining his objection to the directive, was faxed to every MEP.
But internal BAT documents show that in addition to her work lobbying MEPs, Patel’s team played a key role in fashioning the company’s public profile. In a memo dated 14 December 2000, a senior executive within the company, Andreas Vecchiet, conducted an annual appraisal of the Shandwick team’s performance. “We have mainly used Shandwick for project-based work relating to the WHO [World Health Organisation] campaign, NGO monitoring … reputation issues relating to Burma, and some limited advice relating to Nigeria and labour standards.”
BAT’s position in Burma at the turn of the millennium was hugely controversial. “BAT’s factory in Burma was jointly owned with the military dictatorship and so helped fund one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world,” said Anna Roberts, executive director at Burma Campaign UK.
“BAT refused to admit how much money it gave to the dictatorship, but Burma Campaign UK estimated that BAT paid the generals $16m (£10m) in taxes alone between 1999 and 2002. In contrast, BAT paid its factory workers in Burma just £15 a month. The dictatorship spent 40% of its budget on the military.”
Following widespread public outrage, BAT pulled out of Burma in 2003.
The tobacco giant also came under fire in Nigeria after children as young as seven were found to be working on farms supplying it with tobacco leaf.
The documents show that in 2001, Shandwick drew up plans to invoice BAT for 279 hours of its work a month, of which Patel’s contribution amounted to 100 hours. BAT was charged £165 an hour for Patel’s services. The entire team was on a monthly retainer of nearly £40,000 – a total of almost £500,000 a year.
Patel has consistently refused to comment on this.
Patel is seen as on the far right of the Conservative party, having backed calls for the return of capital punishment and voted against same-sex marriage, and has arguably already been sacked once for treason. She is now in charge of the Home Office – from where her insane views will shape our country with all the serious power that comes with one of the 3 largest offices of State.
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