Diageo steps down from board of responsible drinking campaign

David Smith has said he is still glad that Diageo got involved in the campaign but that he is stepping down from the board so that its independence will not be questioned

David Smith keen to counteract "perceived lack of independence given the involvement of Diageo on the board”



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25 March 2015

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Guinness Parent company, Diageo has withdrawn from the board of the ‘Stop Out-Of-Control Drinking’ campaign, only one month after it had begun.

Ireland country director for Diageo, David Smith confirmed that he is stepping down from the board of the campaign group, which is headed up by Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay.

This is actually the fourth resignation received by the group since it began in February – despite the fact that up to 12,000 people have signed up to the campaign which is funded by Diageo through an investment of €1m over its first year.

David Smith told RTÉ Radio One: “Since the launch of the campaign many of our board members have been subjected to unwarranted pressure because of a perceived lack of independence given the involvement of Diageo on the board.”

“To ensure that the board members can work to the best of their abilities and carry out the objectives of the campaign without further pressure and distraction I will no longer sit on the board of the campaign,” he added.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has welcomed the news, saying: “I don’t think it is appropriate that the drinks industry should be actively involved in campaigns around public health for the obvious reasons.”

However, Ruairi McKiernan, founder of Spunout.ie, said he is still not satisfied as Diageo remains involved in the campaign through its funding.

Previously, Diageo decided to cease its annual St Arthur’s Day celebrations after facing criticism centred on claims that it was encouraging binge-drinking.



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