This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
Smoking Gun Document
Philip Morris & UK WhiteCoats meeting
The original copy of this document found in tobacco industry files was very poor in quality, and so this retyped version was carefully compiled by various researchers. Later much more readable copies came to light.
Dr Sharon Boyse (later Sharon Blackie) who wrote this memo also made spelling mistakes in the names of some of those at the meeting. She was the "Issues Manager" at this time for British-American-Tobacco (BAT) in the UK, and second-in-charge (to Dr Ray Thornton) for running the disinformation and counter-science operations.
In the light of further research, we have now added explanatory material to help readers understand the implications of this WhiteCoats program. Boyse recommended that BAT become a co-sponsor of this project, and eventually the network of WhiteCoats grew into a substantial group of secret scientists, academics and administrators working for the tobacco industry in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Latin America.
These scientists differed from the normal scientific consultants that had long been retained by the tobacco industry both as a genuine source of useful information, and as witnesses at legislative/ordinanace hearings and informants attending scientific conferences and reporting on published literature in their fields of expertise.
- WhiteCoats came from a much wider range of scientific and academic disciplines than normal consultants. They were chosen mostly for their titles (ie "Head of Obstetrics, XXX Hospital") than for any relevant knowledge about the subject.
- WhiteCoats were not expected to have any relevant knowledge of the health effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), and needed to be put through a short training course to understand the basics.
- In order to give them some scientific standing, many of the WhiteCoats were given speaking opportunites at conferences controlled by the tobacco industry, and their speeches were co-written with tobacco industry staff... and often, then published in the proceedings. This provided them with the equivalent of publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and the reference could then be cited by other tobacco scientists to boost the WhiteCoat's scientific credentials and status.
- WhiteCoats were only rarely paid retainers, and only very few ever received research grants. They were paid on a freelance/jobber basis and they were expected to keep their relationship with the industry secret.
- WhiteCoats were only rarely given tasks to do. They were exepected to generate their own work... to search out and identify activities which could be of value as propaganda to the tobacco industry. They were then paid well for performing these tasks on a job-by-job basis.
- In order to maintain distance between the WhiteCoats and the tobacco industry, a few pseudo-consulting firms were organisated (ARIA, EGIL) which were funded to act as administrators. These were operated through industry lawyers, and would appear to any outsider to be involved in much wider range of consulting for polluting industries than just tobacco. Such organisations would launder payments (into Swiss bank accounts) and coordinate the activities of member WhiteCoats. ARIA also created, as a subsidiary, its own scientific association (IAI) which ran scientific conferences, and had a newsletter and peer-reviewed journal.
The USA also had its own group of WhiteCoats, but they were not known by this name. They had their own organisation known as IAPAG based in Georgetown University, and some of this group helped Philip Morris enlist scientists in other countries.
See one of the better copies of the document.
Also a copy used in a US court case with large sections REDACTED.
Note on a special meeting of the UK Industry on Environmental Tobacco Smoke, London, February 17th, 1988
Mr E Williams ) - meeting only
Mr F Brown ) Rothmans
Mr B Prost )
Dr H Gaisch ) Philip Morris
Mr D Oxberry ) - dinner only
Mr M Whittaker - Imperial ) meeting only
Dr A J Helmes - Gallaher )
Dr S Boyse - BAT
Mr D H Remes - Covington Burling, USA
Dr G B Leslie - Bioassay Ltd
[The idea for a WhiteCoats program had come from Helmut Gaisch who ran the Science & Technology division of Philip Morris in Lausanne, Switzerland. The idea had been taken up enthusiastically by by the company, and the Washington DC tobacco lawyers Covington & Burling were tasked with setting up the operation in Europe and identifying UK and European scientists to be recruited.
Lawyers John Rupp and David Remes of C&B were the primary recruiters, and they hired Gordon Leslie (a toxicologist), Francis Roe (an industry consultant), Frank Lunau (industrial hygienist) and Professor Roger Perry (a consultant from Imperial College, London) to help identify corruptable scientists and academics.]
Philip Morris presented to the UK industry their global strategy on environmental tobacco smoke. In every major international area (USA, Europe, Australia, Far East, South America, Central America, & Spain) they are proposing, in key countries, to set up a team of scientists organised by one national coordinating scientist and American lawyers, to review scientific literature or carry out work on ETS to keep the controversy alive. They are spending vast sums of money to do so, and on the European Front Covington & Burling, lawyers for the Tobacco Institute in the USA, are proposing to set up a London office from March 1988 to coordinate these activities. The countries in Europe where they have already been working are the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Scandinavia (via Sweden). A list of potential scientists who could be contacted in the UK was produced.
[The surprise to BAT was that the American Philip Morris had established these activities in what they believed to be their (BAT's) own territory without their knowledge. Philip Morris International had developed a highly aggressive culture which didn't fit well with the low-key approach used by the European cigarette companies.
However, at this meeting the Americans were signalling that, even if BAT and the other UK cigarette companies failed to cooperate, they would take control of counter-measures and actively fight anti-smoking activities using any tactics they chose. BAT initially saw this as a 'take-it-or-leave-it' proposition... but finally were persuaded to become partners.]
Because of the heavy financial burden, Philip Morris are inviting other companies to join them in these activities to whatever extent individual companies deem to be appropriate. Presumably they expect interested companies to respond on an individual basis; it is perhaps significant that they did not hold this meeting through the Tobacco Advisory Council. Although action on Environmental Tobacco Smoke is becoming more vital to the industry, Philip Morris strategy is perhaps questionable in some respects e.g. involvement of lawyers at such a fundamental scientific level disadvantages in perception of what will only be perceived as a 'pro-industry' group of scientists.
Dr Thornton had been invited to attend this meeting by Rothmans at their headquarters in Mayfair; in fact, the meeting turned out to have been organised by Philip Morris. Due to previous commitments I attended the meeting instead of RET, which was followed by dinner.
[Raymond E Thornton (RET) was the head of the Issues Management division of British-American Tobacco and therefore Sharon Boyse's superior. She later took over from him.]
The aim of the meeting was for Philip Morris to present to this industry their global strategy on environmental tobacco smoke and how they propose to apply it to the UK. They apparently hoped both to inform the UK industry, out of courtesy, about what they were planning, and also if appropriate to
martial marshall either financial of moral support for the idea.
Dr Gaisch said that their strategy on ETS had been established in the USA at a meeting between Philip Morris and Covington and Burling, the lawyers acting for the Tobacco institute of the USA. At a later date R J Reynolds were also brought in to support some of their US activities, one of these being the Centre for Indoor Air Research.
[The Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR) was another front group for the US tobacco industry which Philip Morris had initiated, and then handed over to the Tobacco Institute to operate. It was supposed to be an entirely independent research funding operation — completely separated from industry influence — which conducted research into indoor air quality (IAQ). This problem was defined widely — involving pollutants other than just tobacco smoke. However the CIAR was micromanaged by the tobacco industry for their own purposes.
They funded research which was designed to fail, or which gave ambiguous results to boost the idea that the dangers of second-hand smoke were still in doubt, and so 'maintain the controversy'.]
The Philip Morris philosophy of ETS was presented. This appeared to revolve around the selection, in all possible countries, of a group of scientists either to critically review the scientific literature on ETS to maintain controversy, or to carry out research on ETS. In each country a group of scientists would be carefully selected, and organised by a national coordinating scientist.
Philip Morris have already initiated various programmes of research on ETS in Europe eg with Battelle in Geneva, Neurath in Germany, about which they were quite open. Their aim now is to supplement these researches with their proposed coordinating teams. Their major target countries in Europe are: UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Scandinavia (Sweden). In all of these countries Philip Morris have already begun to identify and talk to suitable scientists.
The consultants should, ideally, according to Philip Morris, be European scientists who have had no previous association with tobacco companies and who have no previous record on the primary issue which might, according to Remes, lead to problems of attribution.
[In other words, they should be scientists not associated in any way with the tobacco industry, and certainly not research scientists who might be suspected as being paid by the industry to conduct fake research.]
The mechanism by which they identify their consultants is as follows: - they ask a couple of scientists in each country ( Francis Roe and George Leslie in the UK) to produce a list of potential consultants. The scientists are then contacted by these coordinators or by the lawyers and asked if they are interested in problems of Indoor Air Quality: tobacco is not mentioned at this stage. CVs are obtained and obvious 'anti-smokers' or those with 'unsuitable backgrounds' are filtered out. The remaining scientists are sent a literature pack containing approximately 10 hours reading matter and including 'anti-ETS' articles. They are asked for a genuine opinion as independent consultants, and if they indicate an interest in proceeding further a Philip Morris scientist makes contact.
[This became the stock-standard technique used by the lawyers in recruiting scientists without openly revealing that the tobacco industry was behind their projects. The scientists might suspect that a tobacco company was paying Covington & Burling, but they couldn't prove it. Only those candidates who produced literature reports favourable to industry positions would then be followed up by tobacco industry scientists — and later by the executive staff who would become their handlers.
By these means the industry was always sure that it only recruited scientists and academics who would do anything, say anything, or write anything for money. And they couldn't be caught by someone trying to expose the recruiting activities.]
Philip Morris then expect the group of scientists to operate within the confines of decisions taken by PM scientists to determine the general direction of research, which apparently would then be 'filtered' by lawyers to eliminate areas of sensitivity.
[This is an open admission that industry research was never open and scientific, but rather highly selective and aimed a producing predictable and pre-determined results.
The lawyers came to dominate all tobacco and health research because they were given the rights to veto any project or publication which might create adverse publicity, or be held against the industry in court cases at a later date. These lawyers also controlled the industry databases on smoking and health research, so they became experts in this field.]
Their idea is that the groups of scientists should be able to produce research or stimulate controversy in such a way that public affairs people in the relevant countries would be able to make use of, or market: the information. The scientists would not necessarily be expected to act as spokesmen for the industry, but could be if they were prepared to do so.
[The whole operation was driven by public relations, not by any scientific requirement.]
Philip Morris stressed that they did not want to offend other companies by treading on their toes in countries or territories where another company was the market leader. In fact, they would ideally like some of the coordination to be transferred to NMAs.
[National Manufacturer's Associations — a general term for national lobby groups like the Tobacco Institute of the USA, and the PR division of the UK's Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC)]
However, as this meeting was not carried out through the Tobacco Advisory Council they clearly did not see TAC as being willing or able to play a role in the UK in this respect.
In respect of Professor Perry, Dr Gaisch said they he strongly believed TAC should continue to support him because it could be problematic to withdraw support from a scientist who has been sympathetic to the industry. Dr Gaisch, Dr Helmes of Gallaher and David Remes were to go and see Professor Perry on February 18th to reassure him and if necessary Philip Morris would support Perry alone.
[Professor Roger Perry had carried out a large-scale, tobacco funded study of indoor air quality (IAQ) in Britain which had been the key research at the so-called Perry Symposium (aka the Imperial College Conference). This conference had been funded and controlled by Philip Morris because Perry had had a falling out with BAT and the British cigarette companies. He proved to be one of the most effective recruiters of WhiteCoats in Europe and Asia, because of his high status as Professor at the London University's Imperial College]
The list of potential consultants produced by Dr Leslie for the UK was as follows:-
- W Butler (a pathologist at ????? [possibly BIBRA])
- John Feccini (ex-Pfizers and Hazleton, now a consultant in Lyon)
- Rolf Haywood (ex-Huntingdon) [Ralph Haywood]
- Brian Large (a pharmacologist at the University of Leeds)
- Len Levy (a lecturer in Occupation Health at the University of Leeds)
- Frank Luno (a consultant in occupational hygiene) [Frank Lunau]
- Paul Nicholls (Lecturer in respiratory pharmacology at Cardiff University)
- Prof. Smithers (Professor of paediatric medicine at the University of Leeds)
- Frank Sullivan (a consultant to Rothmans)
- Donald Wheatman (another pharmacologist at Sunderland School of Pharmacy) [He was later credited as being the best WhiteCoat in Europe]
- Gerald Clough (an 'environmental physiologist' at York)
- Bob Brown (MRCToxicology Unit, Carshalton)
- Chris Rhodes (ICI)
- Jim Bridges (Roemans Institute) [Robbins Institute]
In addition Rothmans suggested:-
- John Daniels (ex-ICI toxicology)
- Gordon Cumming
Not only are Philip Morris active in the US (via J ohn Rupp of Covington & Burling) and the UK and Europe (via David Remes), but other Covington & Burling lawyers have also been commissioned to coordinate PM's ETS activities in the Far East, Australia, South America, Central America, and Spain.
- Bob Schroter (Imperial College)
- Professor Clifton (medical physics, UCL)
Although the industry is in great need of concerted effort and action in the ETS area, the detailed strategy of Philip Morris leaves something to be desired. The excessive involvement of external lawyers at this very basic scientific level is questionable and, in Europe at least, is likely to frighten off a number of scientists who might otherwise be prepared to talk to the industry.
[This clearly happened. They solved this problem by hiring the science-recruitment firm Weinberg & Associates (later known as WashTech) to make some of the preliminary contacts, and then had likely candidates over the Covington & Burling]
Also, the rather oblique initial approach may appear to be somewhat less than honest to many scientists. In the past the industry (at least in the UK) has had no difficulty approaching scientists directly. The idea of setting up a special group of consultants coordinated by one national coordinating scientist is also rather likely to frighten away scientists who would justifiable not wish to be associated with industry in this rather structured way or who would not wish to be part of what will inevitably be seen to be a pro-industry group, but who would be prepared to carry out exactly the same activities on an individual, and therefore less compromising, basis.
[Her judgement was wrong here. By offering scientists and academics a way to launder payments (into Swiss Bank accounts) and to be able to claim under oath that "I have never been paid by the tobacco industry", proved to be a superb recruitment tool.]
It must be appreciated that Philip Morris are putting vast amounts of funding into these projects: not only is directly funding large numbers of research projects all over the world, but in attempting to coordinate and pay so many scientists on an international basis to keep the ETS controversy alive. It is generally felt that this kind of activity is already giving them a marketing and public affairs advantage, especially in countries in which, until recently, they have played a rather low profile.
['Keeping the controversy' alive had become the industry's priority. They knew from their own research that they could never win any genuine scientific controversy, but by merchandising "doubt" and promoting "scientific skeptics" through extensive use of PR and lobbying, they could escape the clutches of national regulators for another decade or two.]
Dr Sharon Boyse
Mr EAA Bruell
Mr R? [possibly "RJ" or "RY"] Pritchard
Mr AL Heard
Mr NB Cannar
Mr RLO Ely
Dr RE Thornton
All members of the Scientific Research Group
1988 Jan 25: John Rupp of C&B to Helmut Gaisch and Bradley Brooks (both PM Europe) discussing the Nordic,German and UK WhiteCoats recruitment program.
It also discusses the early arrangements between PM and Professor Perry over the conference to be run at Imperial College.