The Portman Group does not represent alcohol industry

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7462.404-b (Published 12 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:404
  1. Jean Coussins (jcoussins{at}portmangroup.org.uk), chief executive
  1. Portman Group, London W1G 9DQ

    EDITOR—I write with reference to Mayor's news item on a researcher, Robin Room, objecting to a representative from the drinks industry sitting on an alcohol research body.1 Room should check his facts before jumping to conclusions. Here are some facts.

    Firstly, the Portman Group is not a trade association or lobby group. It does not represent the industry. It has no commercial purpose. Its role is to promote responsible drinking by the consumer and responsible marketing by producers.

    Secondly, I was not nominated to the Alcohol Education and Research Council (AERC) by the industry or any industry related body. I was invited to apply by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. I do not occupy one of the three places on the council that are traditionally reserved for industry nominees. This was made abundantly clear in discussions with the department and with the chairman of the council.

    Thirdly, neither Robin Room nor anyone else engaged in alcohol research registered any concern when one of the industry representatives on the council was also the chairman of the Portman Group for two of the years he served on the council. His concern about the chief executive is therefore puzzling.

    Fourthly, the Portman Group has co-funded a number of research projects with the Alcohol Education and Research Council in the past, at the invitation of the council, again without any apparent cause for concern.

    Finally, all members of the Alcohol Education and Research Council are appointed as individuals and are committed as trustees to upholding the independence and integrity of the council. This I fully intend to do, whatever the source of any pressure.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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