April 15, 2003

At today’s AGM the board of British American Tobacco faced a barrage of questions over its joint venture factory with Burma’s military dictatorship.

Fifty protesters from Burma Campaign UK and Friends of the Earth greeted shareholders as they arrived for the AGM. Campaigners had also bought shares so they could attend the meeting.

Deputy Chairman Ken Clarke MP was left squirming in his hush puppies as he and other board members were repeatedly questioned over the appalling human rights record of their business partners in Burma. Ken Clarke admitted he agreed with Burma Campaign UK about the nature of the regime in Burma but had no problem working with them.

“Ken Clarke admitted that he is happy to keep doing business with the dictatorship in Burma, regardless of the moral questions”, said John Jackson Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “ The only bottom line for Ken Clarke and BAT is if it’s legal and makes a profit then they’ll do it.”

Ken Clarke and Chairman Martin Broughton repeatedly gave evasive answers, and even refused to answer one question about the regime. “This AGM was a major embarrassment for BAT”, said John Jackson.“All but two questions related to their factory in Burma. They denied knowing how much money they are paying the regime. Our estimates are that BAT have paid $16 million in taxes alone to a dictatorship that spends 40% of its budget on the military.”

The Burma Campaign UK has vowed to continue the campaign to get BAT to close its factory Burma.

For more information contact John Jackson, Director, or Mark Farmaner, Media Officer on 020 7281 7377

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