Former tobacco exec tells trial he helped destroy documents

A former tobacco executive has admitted in a historic legal case that he helped destroy research documents in the 1990s.

MONTREAL — A former tobacco executive has admitted in a historic legal case that he helped destroy research documents in the 1990s.

Roger Ackman’s testimony Monday came in the largest class-action suit in Canadian history, which is also the first trial of its kind involving cigarette companies in this country.

Two groups of claimants are arguing they were misled by three cigarette companies about the addictiveness and danger of smoking, or that they suffered health problems for which the industry is to blame.

Ackman testifed in the $27-billion case that when he was vice-president of legal affairs at Imperial Tobacco, he participated in the destruction of documents.

But Ackman suffered from repeated memory blanks — saying he didn’t remember why the documents were destroyed, who asked for them to be destroyed, or what specifically was in the documents.

“It was a long time ago,” Ackman often said under questioning from Gordon Kugler, one of more than a dozen lawyers representing the plaintiffs.

“I don’t recall.”

The Canadian case comes years after lawsuits and huge cash settlements in the United States.

In one American case, in 2006, the U.S. Federal District Court concluded tobacco companies had set up a complex series of hurdles to downplay research on the dangers of smoking, ranging from public relations spin to the shredding of documents.

The ruling by U.S. Judge Gladys Kessler said research was shredded in Canada, the United States and Australia. Some copies have remained on file with British American Tobacco.

She cited a 1992 letter sent by Montreal lawyer Simon Potter, who represented Imperial, to lawyers at British American Tobacco, saying he intended to destroy 60 documents unless he received instructions to the contrary. The documents were listed and included scientific studies and another document with the notation “not destroyed because never received by Imperial.”

Potter has been representing one of the tobacco companies involved in the case, but may be called to testify as a witness.

Just Posted

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

Humboldt Broncos player transferred to Calgary hospital for rehabilitation

CALGARY — One of the Humboldt Broncos hockey players injured in a… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta pharmacists decry fee reductions for services

Government funding cuts to Alberta pharmacies will hurt health care, declared about… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Northbound QEII traffic to return to northbound lanes as contruction continues south of Red Deer

Though the Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange still has months until completion, some… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month