7.30 Report - Tobacco Litigation
Reporter Kerry O'Brien introduces fresh claims on tobacco industry practices in the '90s in its attempts to limit future liability over the health effects of smoking.
John St Vincent Welch was chief executive officer of the Tobacco Institute of Australia - the industry lobby group - for 15 months in 1991-92. He says it was routine practice in conjunction with the major tobacco companies, acting on legal advice, to engage in what was called document retention - a policy of destroying any document that might hurt them in possible future litigation. The documents included sensitive research material linking smoking with health problems.
Mr Welch's revelations follow the filing of an affidavit from British American Tobacco's former company secretary and legal counsel, raising serious questions about the appeals process in the case of deceased cancer victim Rolah McCabe.
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