Advocates Derail SABMiller/UK Civil Service Conflict of Interest

October 30, 2014

John Manzoni, the new Chief Executive of the UK Civil Service, has agreed to step down down from his concurrent position as SABMiller Chairman of the Board after Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) coordinated opposition against the dual positions, outlining the inherent conflict of interest.

Manzoni's vested interest in SABMiller would be in direct conflict with the UK civil service mission and projects under his leadership, which include public health and safety. UK Civil Service Standards require him to put the obligations of public service above personal interests, and base advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence. Manzoni's SABMiller leadership position was paid in company shares, giving Manzoni a direct personal interest in the company's growth and profits. Even as a pro-bono board member, Manzoni would be obligated to put the corporation's profits first. As SABMiller also shares strong commercial ties and financial interest in The Altria Group, the tobacco company formerly known as Philip Morris Companies Inc., Manzoni would also be obligated to put tobacco and alcohol sales at primary importance. Altria owns nearly one-third of SABMiller. SABMiller is also a member of the industry front group Portman Group, which already has heavy and high-level influence in the UK, most recently using its influence to quash a government proposal for minimum pricing.

Alcohol Justice supported the AHA position, and signed on to the letter, which can be read in full here.