Lord Ahmed's accusation
of blackmail has been denied by Nestlé whistle blower
20th March 2002
employee, Syed Aamar Raza, denied today that he attempted to blackmail
Nestlé using internal company documents showing the company
bribed doctors in Pakistan to increase baby milk sales. The accusation
was made by Lord Ahmed, the controversial Labour peer, on the
Shazia Khan show on the BBC
Asian Network yesterday when Lord Ahmed was questioned about
his own financial links with the company. Syed Aamar Raza has
been in hiding since gunshots were fired at his home in Sialkot,
Pakistan over two years ago, prior to his presenting evidence
of Nestlé malpractice at the House of Commons. He told
Baby Milk Action:
"I did not
attempt to blackmail Nestlé. My life was threatened and
I was offered a large sum of money to drop my legal action against
Nestlé. I approached Lord Ahmed asking him to help me
in my campaign to protect infants in Pakistan. It is very distressing
that he has decided to work for Nestlé and is making
these untrue allegations about me on the radio. It is another
attempt to divert people from the real issue - the unnecessary
death and suffering of infants in Pakistan."
Lord Ahmed denied being
an apologist for Nestlé, but then defended the company
at length claiming that he had conducted his own investigation
in Pakistan and none of the 140 million Pakistanis had any complaints
about Nestlé, only people in Canada and Cambridge. Lord
Ahmed did not reveal to listeners that a 'fact-finding' trip he
made to Pakistan had been organised and financed by Nestlé.
Lord Ahmed did indicate that he will be becoming a paid advisor
to Nestlé. In November 2000 he attempted to intervene in
support of the company at a European Parliament public hearing
into the company's baby food marketing activities, which the company
refused to attend (see "MEPs
shocked as Nestlé and Adidas snub Public Hearing on corporate
responsibility" which includes the text of presentations
made to the Public Hearing by the Network for Consumer Protection
in Pakistan and UNICEF's Legal Officer).
In the interview Lord
Ahmed referred to a tape which he claims substantiates his allegation
of blackmail. Syed Aamar Raza has been pressing Nestlé
for a copy of the tape since Nestlé first claimed to have
it over two years ago, but has had no response from Nestlé.
Nestlé told the German media that it obtained the tape
using illegal means. Baby Milk Action has also asked Nestlé
to substantiate its blackmail allegation and to release the tape,
but Nestlé has refused to do so.
Mike Brady, Campaigns
and Networking Coordinator, Baby Milk Action, was participating
in the live head-to-head interview with Lord Ahmed yesterday when
the accusation was made. Mike Brady said in response in the interview:
been asking Nestlé to substantiate its blackmail allegation
for literally years. Now Lord Ahmed says he had access to a
tape. Aamar Raza has written to Nestlé asking for a copy
of that tape so he can defend himself. Now I would ask Lord
Ahmed, if he has these contacts with Nestlé will he get
a copy of that tape instead of making allegations of blackmail
against Aamar Raza when he does not have a chance to defend
himself and he has not seen the tape?"
Lord Ahmed did not
respond to this question. (Click
here to hear Baby Milk Action's recording of the interview).
Syed Aamar Raza worked
as a Medical Delegate for Nestlé until April 1997 when
he resigned from the company shortly after an infant at a clinic
he was visiting died as a result of diarrhoea and malnutrition.
When he asked the doctor why the infant had died, the doctor replied,
"Because of people like you." Aamar's duties
as a Nestlé representative included bribing doctors with
gifts and money to promote Nestlé breastmilk substitutes
and promoting the milks directly to mothers himself at baby shows
organised by his Area Detailing Executive. The death of the infant
and the distress of the parents moved Aamar deeply, particularly
as he had a two and half year old son and his wife was 8 months
pregnant at that time. After his resignation, Aamar sent a Legal
Notice to Nestlé calling on the company to stop its unethical
promotion. He claims this prompted threats and the offer of money.
After contacting the Pakistan group, The Network for Consumer
Protection (a member of the International Baby Food Action Network
- IBFAN) Aamar decided to
go public with documentary evidence implicating Nestlé
management at the highest level in the bribing of doctors and
other activities banned by the World Health Assembly marketing
requirements for breastmilk substitutes. Documents include copies
of cheques, memoranda, minutes of meetings and Aamar's wage slips
which reveal he received bonus payments for meeting sales targets
- infant formula received most points in the company incentive
scheme. The report Milking Profits, based on his evidence,
was launched in Berlin in December 1999.
Aamar has not seen
his wife and children since he left Pakistan in November 1999
and remains fearful about returning to Pakistan following the
gun attack and other threats (see press release 29th February
2000 - Nestlé whistleblower
to present evidence at House of Commons (UK Parliament) despite
gun attack in Pakistan)
For further details
see the summary of the
report Milking Profits and other press releases in the 'resources'
Also see: The Guardian
19th March 2002 and British
Medical Journal, 18th February 2000
Notes for Editors:
- Baby food companies
are required to abide by the International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent,
relevant Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly. The
Assembly is the policy setting body of the World Health Organisation.
These measures are not enforceable, unless adopted in national
legislation. Nestlé has been opposing this in Pakistan
since at least 1992. A draft law is presently with the new administration
in Pakistan, but has still not been passed.
- According to UNICEF,
where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more
likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child.
In Pakistan, 26% of the population does not have access to safe
water and 53% do not have access to adequate sanitation.
- The evidence contained
in Milking Profits substantiates evidence found by monitoring
in 33 cities in Pakistan and published as the report Feeding
Fiasco in March 1998. Evidence from around the world continues
to demonstrate that Nestlé is violating the marketing
requirements in a systematic manner. For information on ordering
Feeding Fiasco, visit the Virtual
- Nestlé is
distributing a report dated a week after the shooting incident
in Sialkot which contradicts the information in Baby Milk Action's
possession, even to the extent of saying there are no bullet
marks at the house. The presence of bullet marks has been independently
verified by a journalist in Pakistan and photographs can be
seen in Update 27.
The police Station House Officer named in Nestlé's report
has been transferred from the station and no contact details
are being released by his replacement.
- The German launch
of Milking Profits coincided with an article in Stern,
including pictures taken in Pakistan which may be purchased
for publication from the syndication agency Picture Press GmbH.
For details of pictures contact Picture Press GmbH on +49 40
3703 2572. Baby Milk Action has no connection with the agency
nor responsibility for the pictures.
television series in Germany, Kennzeichen D, was to broadcast
film of Mr. Raza in Pakistan on 8th December 1999. This was
cancelled at the last minute after Nestlé's Communications
Director, Francois Perroud, met with a senior executive of
ZDF television. The journalist responsible for the film has
since resigned and it has been reported in Die Welt
that the 28-year-old investigative television series responsible
for the film is to be axed by ZDF.
Baby Milk Action
has had a long correspondence with Nestlé Vice-President,
Niels Christiansen, who is responsible for diverting criticism
of Nestlé's baby food marketing malpractice. Mr. Christiansen
has not provided adequate explanations for the documentary
evidence provided by Syed Aamar Raza and has not substantiated
the blackmail allegation. For copies of the correspondence
contact Baby Milk Action.