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David Cameron urged to sack strategist over tobacco industry lobbying links

David Cameron is under pressure to sack his election strategist Lynton Crosby over his links with the tobacco industry, following the government's controversial decision to scrap plans to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes. The Observer today reports that senior Liberal Democrats, including former health minister Paul Burstow, are calling for Crosby to quit or be fired by Cameron after it emerged that his lobbying firm works for global tobacco giant Philip Morris. The paper claims other Lib Dems have made it clear they will fight to have Crosby, who has been the Tories' chief strategist since last autumn, removed from any role in which he can influence health policy. Philip Morris, one of the major tobacco companies, confirmed it had employed Crosby's lobbying and communications firm CTF to give it advice "on a range of matters" since November. Steven Williams, Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the all-party group on smoking and health, told the Observer is was a "massive conflict of interest" to have Crosby at the heart of government. He said: "The prime minister should be considering whether he believes Crosby's position is tenable." Cameron has stressed that Crosby is only employed by the Conservative Party - not the government - and does not lobby him on policy.

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