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Crosby accused of chairing Big Tobacco meeting – and his other business links are coming under fire
Lynton Crosby, the Conservative party’s election co-ordinator, chaired a meeting last year where members of the tobacco industry discussed how to block the government’s plan to force cigarettes to be sold in plain packets, Labour claimed on Sunday. Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, made the claim in a letter demanding answers to a series of questions about Crosby’s contact with ministers and officials involved in the government’s decision to shelve the plan. The decision, which was confirmed on Friday, represents a victory for the tobacco industry but has led to calls for Cameron to sack his election strategist because Crosby also runs companies that lobby on behalf of cigarette manufacturers. Downing Street has said Crosby was not involved in the decision to shelve the proposed law enforcing plain packaging for cigarettes. But that has not stopped Labour questioning his role in the affair. -Guardian
David Cameron came under renewed pressure to sack his party’s elections adviser Lynton Crosby on Sunday night as environmental activists expressed concern about his links to the fracking industry. Mr Crosby’s lobbying firm, Crosby Textor, represents the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, an oil and gas lobby group campaigning aggressively for fracking. The association’s chief operating officer, Stedman Ellis, has made headlines in recent months for his outspoken criticism of anti-fracking campaigners, telling one Australian paper: “The opportunity provided by shale gas is too important to be jeopardised by political scare campaigns run by activist groups.” The association’s members include Dart, the company behind coal-bed methane extraction in Scotland, which holds a fracking licence. George Osborne announced tax breaks for the oil and gas industry just weeks after Mr Crosby’s appointment as a Conservative adviser was announced. – Independent