Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Plain Packs Campaign Encouraged Multiple Duplication Of Signatures

You may remember, last month, that the Department of Health released their correspondence on the plain packs campaign with a number of organisations including Forest. Simon Clark wrote about it at the time.
The correspondence includes two letters to Forest from the tobacco programme manager at the DH. In his letters he highlighted five specific incidents concerning the HOOP campaign.
Clark also described how his responses to the concerns raised had not been included in the published documents.
The DH is now is possession of two further letters from me, one dated August 30, the second dated September 7. The first is a five-page letter which provides a detailed response to all queries. The second is a four-page letter in which I highlight several concerns that we have about the Plain Packs Protect campaign. 
Neither letter was part of the package of correspondence released on Friday because they were sent outside the period stipulated in the FOI request.
Of course, for a tobacco control industry still reeling from the huge numbers of signatures opposing them, that didn't matter. Here was a straw and they were desperate to clutch it. The experts in evidence manipulation and spin sprang onto Twitter, and other avenues, to manipulate evidence and, err, spin (click to enlarge).

No point in waiting for the other side of the story before making their conclusions, was there? It might prove that there was nothing in it, and that just wouldn't do. Besides, they've spent decades ensuring there cannot be another side of the story, so it was business as usual really. 

Sadly for them, another side of the story has emerged with another release of documents by the Department of Health, this time of correspondence with the pro plain packaging campaign. There's a lot to read through there, so enjoy yourselves, but the one that caught my eye today is the e-mail from Deborah Arnott to the DoH on 10th August [pdf] (sixth from the bottom).
I understand that you have been copied into an email from a junior member of the UKCTCS which was circulated to the UKCTCS list encouraging sign up to the various websites supporting plain packs stating that  "You can only vote once on each petition, but I would seriously doubt that there will be cross checking between charity petitions so it may be worth signing all of them to get your money's worth"
Oh really? Isn't that just a bit, you know, corrupt? Perhaps even 'laughably amateur' according to one commentator.

So a tobacco control industry employee was actively encouraging fraudulent submissions of signatures. Perhaps we should take to Twitter and tell the world, eh? Sauce for the gander, and all that. 

Just as in the case of the September frenzy from tobacco control,. we don't know what happened after that as there is nothing (that I can spot, anyway) detailing what measures Arnott took afterwards. But that shouldn't matter, should it? It certainly didn't for CRUK, Chapman and Scally, after all.

In fact, it's worse than that. You see, this wasn't a couple of rogue part-time signature-gatherers perverting evidence, it was someone working on behalf of the campaign itself. What's more, there are other questions which jump out of this document.

How did ASH know that the DoH had received a copy of the email? Would Arnott have disclosed the email if the DoH hadn't already been "copied into" it? How long after the original corrupt encouragement was a corrective email sent? How many people received the original email? How many acted on the email before being notified not to? How many forwarded the original email to how many others? 

In a separate document [pdf] (the bottom one), Smokefree South West subsequently state that they have put protocols in place to ensure signatures are not duplicated, but they admit that they have no clue about those from CRUK, BHF or Avaaz because they all used different systems. Instead, they ask that the Department of Health do that job for them!

So, to pinch vernacular from CRUK, Plain Packs Protect say 211,653 signed its pro plain packs petition. The above suggests otherwise.

Just sayin'.


nisakiman said...

Gosh, I'm so surprised! The Tobacco Control Industry cheating? Surely, this cannot be?

Has anyone got a feed to Crapman's Twitter? It would be truly delicious to see him wriggling out of this one.

PatNurse said...

They live in a bubble and are protected by the tobacco control activists who have blagged their way into our DoH so they are quite confident that they can be misleading and corrupt and get away with it.

Great post. Stay on their backs mate and don't let them get away with it..

Jason said...

Shouldn't a scandal such as this one be considered criminal and a criminal investigation into fraud be launched, since it involves individuals taking taxpayer money who perpetrated and encouraged outright fraud with felonious criminal intent.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The issue of taxpayer funds involved is, indeed, another question to be asked. Why did ASH send the email? Smokefree South West were the lead organisation.

Paid for by the taxpayer, but administered by ASH?

ivandenisovich said...

I don't smoke but signed the HOOP's petition. I resent Chapman's claims on the grounds that I signed it not because I care about the tobacco industry one way or the other but because I prefer to live in a world that is not dominated by unproductive, unethical, mendacious zealots like him.

I agree with you on Arnott. I sincerely doubt that someone with her appalling reputation would have ever written that email had her colleagues dishonesty not have been already exposed. It is a desperate and unconvincing attempt to exonerate herself from her industry's manifest impropriety timed to have no impact on the name gathering exercise.

I note that Arnott is an honorary fellow of the The Royal College of Physicians. I feel no need to say more about the Royal College of Physicians

Jay said...

I took to Twitter. So far, I've seen very little mention of this, apart from my own tweets. But that's not surprising. Most of the people who do care about this stuff are not on Twitter, clearly. No. Scratch that. Most of the people who *would* care about this stuff don't even know about it.

John Davidson said...

It seems a few years back Tobacco control was busted for faking 100s of thousands of emails cloaked as regular citizens,only being sent from computers located inside government buildings and anti-smoking associations.........scripted again ehh!

david said...

Brilliant! :)

My God, junior members of staff certainly seem to have a lot of decision making powers. But we all know where the buck should stop. As for Arnott, she was clearly trying to cover her own arse - but only after the damage was done...

Whatever, this is intent (at least) to defraud the tax payer.

Is the official blog mascot aware of this btw?