BMJ investigation reveals the “cosy relationship” between the alcohol industry and the British government

In this investigation, Under the influence, journalist Jonathan Gornall discovers that the UK government consultation into introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales was a sham and that politicians ignored the strong health evidence in favour of protecting the interests of industry.

Under the influence

Read Gornall's feature article here and follow the investigation's full story in this series of articles that explore the practices of the alcohol industry:

  • False dawn for minimum unit pricing: Gornall reveals the alcohol industry's longstanding influence on government policy
  • How industry captured the science on minimum unit pricing: Gornall examines how the alcohol industry has worked to give scientific respectability to its views
  • Role of parliamentary groups: Almost half of MPs are members of the all party parliamentary group supporting the beer industry, and undisclosed numbers belong to groups supporting other alcohol producers. Gornall asks what effect this might have had on the government’s alcohol policy
  • Election prospects triumph over public health: In the final part of his investigation, Jonathan Gornall describes how minimum unit pricing was finally pushed off the agenda
  • Internal government and industry documents that give details of meetings between the Department of Health and representatives of the alcohol industry can be viewed here.


Journalist Jonathan Gornall interviews Katherine Brown, director of the UK's Institute of Alcohol Studies



Journalist Jonathan Gornall interviews Ian Gilmore, professor of medicine in Liverpool and leading campaigner for public health interventions, on alcohol


A timeline of events in the alcohol pricing saga

Politicians George Osborne, Danny Alexander, and Sajid Javid and the beers launched in their honour


Open letter

In an open letter, published in The Telegraph, senior doctors and health campaigners say that this new information “will fuel fears that big business is trumping public health concerns in Westminster.” They urge the government “to stop dancing to the tune of the drinks industry and prioritise public health.”

Scotland’s battle over alcohol pricing

On 6 February 2014, the alcohol industry heads back to court in its latest attempt to overturn the introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland. The case is likely to end up in Europe and this is a process that could drag on for years. In this feature Jonathan Gornall investigates how the alcohol industry has tried to influence opinion in Scotland.

Europe under the influence

Carrying on from his investigation into the lobbying activities of the alcohol industry in the UK, Jonathan Gornall finds that the industry is using similar tactics to influence Europe’s alcohol policy. Read Gornall's feature.

Response: Costs of minimum alcohol pricing would outweigh benefits

Many people disagree with a minimum unit price for alcohol on grounds that are evidence based, writes Christopher Snowdon in response to this series by Jonathan Gornall.

The UK chancellor should resist industry lobbying to scrap annual rise in alcohol duty

In the forthcoming UK Budget, Chancellor George Osborne, once dubbed “beer drinker of the year” by the alcohol industry, should not relax the rules on alcohol duty that, in the absence of minimum unit pricing, reduce affordability and hence harm, says Katherine Brown in this personal view.