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.