Row reignites over F1 tobacco ban- 14 Oct 2008 00:00:00
A parliamentary row has broken out over claims that the UK government looked to give F1 special exemption to the ban placed on tobacco advertising in 1997.
Commons speaker Michael Martin has said he is ‘deeply concerned’ at reports that former Prime Minister Tony Blair misled MPs over exempting F1 from a tobacco advertising ban and will look to fully investigate the matter.
Documents obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act suggest Blair ordered ministers to find a way of exempting F1 from the tobacco advertising ban after the meeting with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on 16th October of 1997.
The government has said the decision was not made straight after the meeting between Blair and Ecclestone, a renowed Labour donor.
Ecclestone gave a £1m donation to Labour in 1997, which the party later handed back amid negative newspaper coverage.
A spokesman for Tony Blair commented: ‘There is nothing new here. All these issues were known and debated at the time, and the documents released are entirely consistent with his answers at the time.’
At the time, F1 was heavily reliant on tobacco brands bringing in vital sponsorship income to the sport and was hit hard by the decision to ban such associations.