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

Last-minute entry: Jason Kenney will be part of Wednesday’s Westerner Days parade

Premier Jason Kenney is a late addition to Wednesday morning’s Westerner Days… Continue reading

Two men arrested on drug charges in Blackfalds

Blackfalds RCMP say they expect to lay more charges after two men… Continue reading

Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary bullet train waiting for provincial blessing

A high-speed train project between Edmonton and Calgary, proposed in April 2018,… Continue reading

Home selling and building markets reflecting a tough economy, but hope in sight

Real estate sales and new home builds still lagging 2018

Former Sylvan Lake bank employee sentenced to three years in prison for $1M fraud

Red Deer woman was ordered to pay nearly $830,000 in restitution

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Hernandez, Gurriel lead Blue Jays to 10-4 win over Red Sox

Blue Jays 10 Red Sox 4 BOSTON — Teoscar Hernandez hit a… Continue reading

New head coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

TORONTO — Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team… Continue reading

Court of Appeal dismisses Paradise Shores arguments

A court will not hear arguments; sticks with appeal board’s ruling

Schitt’s Creek’ and its stars among Canadians with Emmy nominations

TORONTO — Eugene Levy thought the highlight of his Tuesday would be… Continue reading

Singh sees Quebec as ‘fertile ground’ for NDP as he hits province for tour

OTTAWA — The province of Quebec offers the federal New Democrats fertile… Continue reading

Airline confirms three dead after float plane crashes in Labrador lake

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Four occupants of a downed float plane remained… Continue reading

New developments in text-messaging controversy involving Manitoba chief

WINNIPEG — The women’s council of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says… Continue reading

N.S. minister holds off comment on wrongful conviction case due to past as Mountie

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s justice minister — a retired Mountie — says… Continue reading

Most Read