A Conservative MP who is leading a rebellion against plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes is a former tobacco lobbyist and chairs a parliamentary group whose secretariat is provided by two tobacco industry-funded organisations.
Priti Patel, a member of David Cameron’s influential policy advisory board and chair of the all-party parliamentary small shops group, argues that plain packs will be the “final nail in the coffin” of hundreds of newsagents.
She has repeatedly spoken out against the measure – which health campaigners hope will come into force before the general election – and written articles saying that it will encourage trade in counterfeit cigarettes.
Patel was for several years a lobbyist working for British American Tobacco, in a team that sought to derail government plans for an advertising ban and responded to a Department of Trade and Industry investigation into alleged cigarette smuggling.
You couldn’t make it up.