11:05 Thursday 09 January 2014

MP speaks out in row over policy

Written byROB SMYTH

Pics of Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire MPs in Westminster, London, for featureAndrew Griffiths (Burton) Pics of Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire MPs in Westminster, London, for featureAndrew Griffiths (Burton)

BURTON’S MP has launched a fierce defence of the alcohol industry following allegations from the British Medical journal (BMJ) claiming that it had undue influence on the Government over minimum alcohol pricing policy.

Andrew Griffiths, who is the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, told the Mail the claims read like a website created by ‘conspiracy theorists’.

The BMJ claimed its own investigation revealed an ‘extraordinary level of access’ granted to the industry.

The report comes after the Government axed plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

Mr Griffiths said : “There is simply not truth in the claims by the BMJ and, in my opinion, the claims sound more like a conspiracy theorists website.

“It is such a shame that this report and its contents throw doubt on something that has been open and transparent from the start and tries to make out that they are underhand and sinister.

“It is odd that the brewing industry is accused of having undue influence when I myself have actively campaigned in favour of minimum pricing.

“I even met with the Prime Minister to talk about the issue but, unfortunately, I failed in my attempts to convince him as I was lobbying in favour.”

The Government ditched plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol last summer, even though the Prime Minister David Cameron had previously given his backing to it.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “As you would expect from a government department seeking to effect public health change through a voluntary deal with industry, a wide group of officials have many different meetings with a vast range of stakeholders.

“We utterly reject the allegation of anything untoward taking place in the small proportion of talks that took place with the alcohol industry.”

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