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01/10/2013

Alcohol charities fear conflict of interest

A key civil servant who has been part of a team responsible for the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Scotland has been confirmed as the incoming Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The SWA announced last week that Mr David Frost, currently Director of Europe, Trade and International Affairs at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills will take up the SWA post next year.

Scottish and European health campaigners expressed surprise that a current senior civil servant in a key Department dealing with the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol has been confirmed as the incoming Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General at the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, Eurocare, shares the concerns of the Scottish organisations: “What is happening in Scotland is a situation where there is a clear conflict of interest. Federal Governments should impose a minimum of 12 months quarantine periods before regulators may return to private enterprise.”

Dr Peter Rice, chair of SHAAP said: “His appointment raises some questions. Will he continue to represent the UK government in trade discussions involving alcohol until he takes up his SWA post? When did his relationship with the SWA start and what role has he played in the development of his Department’s policy on minimum unit pricing?”

Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “AFS has been closely involved in countering the SWA’s challenge to minimum unit pricing by presenting the evidence that it will reduce harm and save lives. We were delighted that the Court found in favour of the Scottish Government in May and disappointed that the SWA and their allies immediately appealed, further delaying implementation. Mr Frost’s appointment to the organisation opposing minimum pricing is an obvious conflict of interest and another example of the revolving door between the public and private sector where gamekeeper turns poacher.”

The Scotch Whisky Association is currently involved in legal action in Scottish courts which is delaying the implementation of the Minimum Unit Price legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. Part of the SWA’s campaign against MUP has been focused on the trade implications for Europe.

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Download Eurocare Press Release- Alcohol charities fear conflict of interest 1 October 2013

For more information please contact:

European Alcohol Policy Alliance

Mariann Skar Secretary General
Email mariann.skar@eurocare.org
GSM: +32 (0) 474 830 041

EUROCARE (The European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is an alliance of non-governmental and public health organisations with around 50 member organisations across 23 European countries advocating the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe.

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) SHAAP was established in 2006 by the Scottish Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties to raise awareness about alcohol-related harm and to promote solutions based on the best available evidence. It operates as an Advocacy Body to provide a coordinated, coherent and authoritative medical voice on reducing the impact of alcohol-related harm on the health and well-being of the people of Scotland.

Eric Carlin Director
Email: shaap.director@rcpe.ac.uk
Tel: +44 131 247 3665
Website: www.shaap.org.uk

Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) is national charity working to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Our vision is to create a culture where low alcohol consumption is the norm and people who choose not to drink are supported in their choice.

Evelyn Gillan Chief Executive
Email: evelyn.gillan@alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk
Tel: +44 141 572 6700
Web: www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk