Thursday 22 February 2018

Irish Cancer Society to reject donations from Arthur Cox


A leading Irish charity has announced it will no longer accept any corporate donations from a top law firm which is acting for tobacco giant Japan Tobacco in threatened court action against the State to block plain cigarette packs.

The Irish Cancer Society says it has made a “difficult decision” to no longer accept donations from Arthur Cox law firm.

Mark Mellett, a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society told “Arthur Cox are leading a legal action against the legislation for plain packaging on behalf of Japan Tobacco Ireland.” 

“We will be declining further donations from Arthur Cox. In light of the aggressive action, we feel we have to take this measure. Over 92pc of income comes from individuals and companies so it was a difficult decision to make.”

The charity received €20,000 in both 2013 and 2014 from Arthur Cox, which is a legal adviser to the Health Service Executive.

John Player, which is part of the Imperial Tobacco Group, and Japan Tobacco Ireland has said it would bring the Government to the High Court if it did not abandon plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

The companies claim the new law is a breach of their intellectual property rights and will lead to an increase in cigarette smuggling.

“In light of the recent aggression that’s been demonstrated by the tobacco industry we have decided that we are no longer able to receive donations from Arthur Cox.”

Children's Minister James Reilly said yesterday it is not appropriate for legal firm Arthur Cox to represent tobacco firms and State agencies under the aegis of his department.

Mr Reilly said he has a "problem" with Arthur Cox continuing to provide legal advice to the State agency if it is representing tobacco firms, which he said put the lives of people at risk.

"I am very concerned about a perceived or real conflict of interest here of legal firms representing both sides in a hugely high stakes situation like this," Mr Reilly said.

"We are fighting for the future of our children and the health of our nation against the determination of Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International to increase their profits at the cost of people's health in this country."

The minister added: "I fail to see how we send the right message by employing legal firms that are prepared to represent the tobacco industry."

"Their inability to come out and tell the truth time after time has been quite shocking frankly and we are going to stand firm against them."

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