IEA (Doc. Index)

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (note the name Institute for Economic Affairs is used also) was the creature of the UK chicken-king, Antony Fisher in 1955 established to promote his libertarian, extreme free-market ideology. It was run by two of his closest friend Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon as co-directors. [Later Fisher received a knighthood, and Ralph Harris a Baronette - Lord Harris of High Cross.

The IEA has become notorious for:

  • becoming the main ideology advisory source and think-tank operation behind Margaret Thatcher
  • being the foundation think-tank of a chain of (claimed) 200 think-tanks spread across the UK and North America, Europe, etc
  • being contracted lobbyists for the tobacco industry (known for certain) and probably for other industries with poisoning and polluting problems.
    • Creating the European Science and Environmental Forum (ESEF) as a tobacco-industry front. It was the UK equivalent of the US's TASSC junk-science operation run by 'junk-man' Steve Milloy but in the UK it was run by Roger Bate.
    • Creating FOREST the (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) in London for British-American Tobacco, and FOREST branches in many other countries with funding from Philip Morris. These were smoker-rights lobby groups run initially by Lord Harris of High Cross and Stephen Eyers then taken internationally by Philip Morris. [[2]]

Documents & Timeline

1945 Antony Fisher visits Friedrich Hayek after reading his book The Road to Serfdom which attacks socialism as being a subset of communism, which he believes has the potential of world domination. Hayek persuades him to create an organisation devoted to the promotion of free market ideas.

1955 The Institute for Economic Affairs was founded by Antony Fisher. He ran the first major battery-hen/chicken farming operations in the UK and made a sizeable fortune.

1955 June The Institute for Economic Affairs (under Director Antony Fisher) publishes The Free Convertibility of Sterling by George Winder.

1955 Nov: Financial support for the IEA is now channeled through a trust established by Fisher and two of his friends, John Harding and Oliver Smedley.

1957 Jan: Journalist/economist graduate Ralph Harris, a friend of Fisher, was persuaded to drop his job writing casual editorials for the Glasgow Herald and join the new IEA think-tank as a part-time director. His background is seven years as a lecturer (?) in economics at St Andrews University in Scotland

1958: Another friend of Harris and Fisher, Arthur Seldon is appointed Editorial Advisor. Seldon and Harris coauthor many of the IEA's early papers. Seldon has moved into classic liberal economics from the left after studying at the London School of Economics.

1959: Arthur Seldon moves up to become Editorial Director. He is now effectively co-director with Ralph Harris

1963 - 1968: Tobacco archive documents show that the IEA funding from British-American Tobacco (BAT) began this year. Until 1968 they only gave a donation of £100/year. Lord Cole wrote the request letter to the Chairman of the BAT board. [3] [4]

1968 - 1973: BAT funding to the IEA jumps from £100 to £500/yr. "It's work has been increasingly relevant and influential."

1973 - 1975: BAT funding now jumps again to £!,000/yr. "We have established personal contact with its directors (Ralph Harris and John Wood) and could undoubtedly make more use of the Institute's knowledge of sources of economic information.

1975: BAT recommends to the Board that they subscribe to the IEA "on the scale of £2,500 - £5,000 per annum in line with a handful of large companies." They do so for £2,500/yr via their Charity Aid Foundation which allows them tax relief as a charitable donation. (Donations, payments and bribes are reviewed by BAT about May of each year)

1978 Nov: The idea for a "grassroots" front group was proposed to British American Tobacco's by their then PR firm Campbell-Johnson. The biggest challenge, according to Campbell-Johnson, would be keeping the appearance of separation between the new group and the tobacco industry:

"The main problem would be how to ensure that the group had access to the industry's thinking on major issues without appearing to be merely a mouthpiece for it. In this connexion it is possible that Campbell-Johnson Limited, within any functions carried out for TAC (Tobacco Advisory Council), could act unattributably both as an intermediary in facilitating two-way flow of information between the group and TAC, and as a backroom guide to the group in overcoming some of the public relations difficulties it might meet." [5]

1979: Minutes of a meeting of a subcommittee of the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) describe plans to set up the FOREST group. Members of the tobacco industry rehearsed how they would answer press inquiries about FOREST after its launch, saying "T.A.C. should reply that while they were aware of its existence, [the industry] had no connection with the new organization...].
The General Manager of Public Affairs at Gallaher Tobacco stated that "his company should reply that FOREST was an independent organisation, that it seemed a good idea for it to support smokers, and that the company provided financial support and nothing more." [6]

1979: The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST) formally began as a European smokers' rights group (SRG) with £12,000 British of tobacco and allied industry funding. FOREST was founded by the IEA under Christopher Foxley-Norris (and placed under the control of Lord Harris of High Cross and his IEA associate Stephen Eyers, with almost their entire funding coming from the tobacco industry, including Gallaher PLC. [7]


1980 May 14: BAT recommends to the board that their IEA donation be increased to £5,000 for five years from March 1981, through the Charities Aid Foundation. (it went to £8,000 a year in just a few years)

1980 Dec: The Social Affairs Unit was established. This was put under the control of Digby Anderson. Supposedly co-founded by Anderson and Professor Julius Gold "with the active encouragement of the IEA ...(for) critical evaluation of the welfare state."

1984: BAT is giving the IEA £8,000/yr

1985 May: Lord Harris of High Cross has written to BAT Chairman asking BAT Industries "To join our top subscribers at £10,000 per annum (BP, Shell, ICI, Beecham and McAlpine" The donation advisers recommended an extra £2,050 to bring it up to £10,000 for that year (and same for the following years) [9] This document was marked with a Restricted Stamp [10]

1987 June: BAT minutes (also Restricted). BAT now owns Eagle Star Insurance, so it intends to split the IEA £10,000/yr donation between the cigarette company and its insurance arm.

1987: Lord Harris of High Cross boast to a reporter that the IEA now had financial support from 250 major corporations, a staff of a dozen, and a budget of nearly 1 million pounds.

1987 May 8: Lord Harris is asking BAT for a donation to their £600,000 appeal to purchase a property in London. He wants a four year covenant for either £5,000/£10,000 per year and explains that BP and Glaxo are giving similar amounts. The BAT recommendation is that: "The IEA is an important institution and one we have supported for many years." [11]

1987 /E: The IEA now has strong ties though the Atlas Network, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the American Atlas Group (loose global collective of libertarian think-tanks) all founded and funded by Antony Fisher.

1993 Oct 11:Dr Robert D Tollison (George Mason Uni) with Richard E Wagner (both tobacco lobbyists) have written a monograph attacking the WHO. The Social Affairs Unit run by Digby Anderson is the publisher. (This unit is loosely linked to the IEA)

1994 July: Media release by Roger Bate, who originally ran the Environmental Unit at the IEA. He says he first got the idea for a European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) himself and approached Dr John Emsley, a chemist at Imperial College London, and Dr Frits Boettcher of the Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources in The Hague for support. According to this foundation myth: they were both also suspicious of the consensus among IPCC scientist on climate change, and all three joined forces to found the ESEF. They jointly contacted many European scientists who shared a similar view about the corruption of climate science. [12]

1995: The Earhart Foundation begins funding the IEA. Total Earhart funding will reach $533,691 by March 2015

1995 Dec 7: BAT Background Papers for a restructured department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

  • Their main attack is on the World Health Organisation's anti-smoking activities (also) rather than 'more serious diseases' in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa. (See also the activities of Paul G. Dietrich)

    A number of independent think-tanks have severely criticised the WHO (and other UN organisations) for this reason, and publications have been sponsored through groups such as the Social Affairs Unit. (SAU)

In spite of our previous efforts, and increasing disillusionment in less developed countries, health ministers in these countries are heavily reliant upon WHO funding for their health programmes and are generally unwilling to criticise WHO despite their concerns.
Action:(1) Continue to give donations to the Social Affairs Unit to enable them to continue with their work in this area;
(2) Fund economists to publish an analysis of the current WHO budget and activities. (Note: Robert D Tollison & Richard E Wagner)
Resource implications: SAU donation: -- £120,000   Economic project:-- £25,000 (to Tollison and Wagner) [13]

1995-96: In the USA, Philip Morris is forced to mediate between two of its main PR/lobby corporations which both wanted to establish and control what was known in the industry as "Euro-TASSC" (a European version of TASSC, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition which had been set up in America to promote the tobacco industry's "junk science" propaganda:

  • APCO had been sloughed off the Arnold & Porter law firm to run surreptitious operations for the tobacco industry. It had created TASSC and SEPP in the USA and felt it had the right to run the European operations.
  • Burson-Marsteller, the main PR company doing underhand work for tobacco, which already had UK operations, and felt it should be in control.

Eventually Philip Morris decided to hand the problem over to its British associates, who then handed the operation to the IEA.

1996 May /E: The European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) is created by the IEA with tobacco industry funding. It is run by IEA staffers Roger Bate and Lorraine Mooney and is based in Cambridge. It concentrates initially on climate-denial and claims about junk-science. The aim is to create the impression that it is an organisation of professional scientists which arbitrates on scientific standards ("sound science vs. junk-science") -- rather than a tobacco industry lobby group. [14]

1996 Aug: Bate has written a 10 page report to Keith Gretton (Smoking Issues Dept) at British-American Tobacco outlining his current program of activities at the ESEF and asking for permission to go ahead with some articles. He is also delivering his 'grand plan':

  • His Mission Statement declares that the ESEF is an

    ... independent, non-profit-making alliance of scientist whose aim is ensure that environmental debates are properly aired. The major concern of the members is to combat what has become known as corrupted science.
    To maintain its impartiality, the ESEF does not accept outside funding from whatever source, the only income it receives is from the sale of its publications. On Aug 6th 1996 the ESEF has 67 scientific members from 10 EU countries and USA an Australia.

    In the accompanying report he spells out:
  • He will promote himself to the public as a 'scare watchdog' and to the the media as a 'science watchdog.' On the business lecture circuit he will promote 'sound science' (Note: he is establishing himself as the European Steven J Milloy who's TASSC operation was set up to do this in the USA.)
  • He has plans for articles: ... on the risk trade-off between thrombosis and 'the pill'; ... an article praising Pat Sheedy's generosity in funding a chair at Cambridge Uni; ... a joint article with tobacco lobbyists/columnists James Le Fanu and Richard D North on health scares. (listeria, mad cow disease, salmonella); ... an article by Sally Baliunas attacking the 'precautionary principle'; ... another attacking climate change; ... another attacking epidemiology; ... an article on caffeine addiction saying it is worse than nicotine.
  • He needs to also deal with media requests, sell books, manage the web site, publish a newsletter, and host monthly meetings of the management committee.
  • He has two publishers interested in a book on the 'politicisation of science' etc. etc. etc.
  • He needs £8,000 from them immediately, then £6,000 per month [15] He has two new members on the ESEF CommitteeL Prof CJ Fritz Bottcher from the Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources (The Hague) and Dr John Emsley a chemist/writer from Imperial College London. [16]

1996 /E A Roger Bate Media Release. The ESEF intends to publish a book "Global Warming: The Report of the European Science and Environment Forum" He has a list of well-know climate deniers who have agreed to write chapters. (Who was funding this effort ???) [17]

1996 Dec 3 The ESEF and the American TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition) hold a joint press conference announcing that more than 500 physicians and scientists had signed an open letter to world leaders opposing the climate change treaty which was then being negotiated in Kyoto (the Kyoto Treaty]). They managed get some semblance of scientific support by wording questionairres in a way that suggested governments should put more money into disputed scientific questions like some of those involved in the climate change debate.

1997 /E: Booklet by Bate at the ESEF "Addressing issues in Environmental Science". He attacks lobbyists and politicians, and praises the scientific approach which he says is not being followed by the IPCC (International Panel of Climate Change) -- the ESEF, of course as a 'scientific watchdog' will set them right. It would be funny if it weren't breathtakingly hypocritical and mendacious. [18]

2004: Exxon donates $50,000 to the IEA, via American Friends of the Institute for Economic Affairs Also the Earhart Foundation has donated a cumulative $533,691 since 1995 [19] 2008: The Social Affairs Unit is split away (theoretically) from the IEA and it begins publishing a monthly magazine, Standpoint.