David Cameron is refusing to confirm or deny whether he discussed plain cigarette packaging with Conservative election strategist Lynton Crosby, who has strong links with the tobacco industry.
The silence comes one week after the government announced it would postpone the introduction of standardised cigarette packaging, prompting Labour demands for an inquiry into whether Crosby breached ministerial standards.
Cameron has thus far refused to rule out discussing the issue with Crosby, leaving himself open to accusations of undue influence.
Crosby’s company, Crosby Textor, has clients including Philip Morris International which has been a vocal opponent of the plans.
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Cameron of ‘weasel words’ over the issue and has asked cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood to investigate whether a ‘back door breach’, of the code had taken place.
Retorting in the Commons Cameron said: “On the issue of Lynton Crosby, this is a complete red herring which is raised by the Labour party because they are in political trouble,” Mr Cameron said. “This is complete nonsense from start to finish.”