Peter N Lee

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Peter N Lee, (aka Peter NC Lee and PN Lee in tobacco documents) was officially an independent statistical consultants from Sutton in the UK However he was also one of the main statisticians and study critics working for the UK tobacco industry (both as an employee and as a consultant). He worked independently through his own consultancy, Peter N Lee Statistics (aka P.N. lee Statistical and Computing Ltd) and also through the Harrowgate Laboratory which was run by the Tobacco Research Council (TRC) in Britain.

His main job was to criticise adverse findings in other people's studies (those reporting health problems statistically linked to smoking). The main problem he had with the industry was that his criticism were sometimes relatively honest -- in fact, Lee was occasionally honest to the point where it got him into trouble with the US industry. The Americans were much more sensitive to such exposure.

However he worked extensively for, and in the pay of the tobacco industry for decades, and he worked closely with Professor Roger Perry, George Leslie and other cash-for-comment scientists in the UK. He was also a member of their pseudo-association, ARIA and he appears to have enjoyed luxury travel to exotic locations to speak at esoteric conferences and cavort with other cash-for-comment scientists.

PM evaluation of his services

In February 1995 the new CEO of Philip Morris, Geoffrey C Bible took control of the tobacco industry's main fightback program and completely reformed the organisational structure of the company's lobbying and disinformation activities. Philip Morris virtually dominated the global tobacco industry's fightback program at this time and he realised that the problem had become global, rather than being confined to just the developed world.

Bible therefore merged the active lobbying/scientific-witness arms of both the domestic (PM USA) company and the international (PMI) division (with many national companies) and creating three new, closely-linked headquarter entities.

  • Corporate Affairs (CA) now ran the main disinformation campaigns, and they looked after the 'grants' and 'donations' given to think-tanks and university institutions which housed scientific lobbyists for the industry.
  • Worldwide Scientific Affairs (WSA) took over the old Science & Technology/Scientific Affairs operations. It now controlled the many academic and scientific consultants that had been recruited around the world: the open/admitted advisers who were paid by annual retainers; those who received grants and were open about it while always claiming to be "independent" of tobacco influence; and the numerous WhiteCoats who preferred to operate in secret, and were generally paid only on a services-rendered basis. WhiteCoats were usually paid through their own private consultancy firms, or via pseudo-scientific associations (IAPAG, ARIA, EGIL, IAI, ARTIST etc.) set up specifically to provide a money-laundry service and cover.
  • Worldwide Regulatory Affairs (WRA), was an extension of the old Washington lobbyist in-house staff, but with experts in other countries, and now operating on a global scale. They did the political lobbying and wrote the wording of the bills. The were mainly lawyers.

As part of this restructure, the head office of the company requested information about the scientists who had been recruited and run over the previous few years by the regional divisions of the company. This document from the Swiss branch run by Helmut Gaisch and Helmut Reif gives us their evaluation of some of their contractors. See original document:

Peter N Lee

  • long-term statistical consultant to the UK's TAC.
  • Independent consultant in statistics + adviser on epidemiology and toxicology to a number of tobacco, pharmaceutical and chemical companies.
  • Reputational Value: Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. Worked on the Department of Health and Social Services committee on toxicology. Worked on the IARC monograph on analysis of animal experiments.
  • Current: Longtime association with both Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Tobacco Institute and the industry in general, He has functioned both as consultant and as principle.

Documents & Timeline

1966-74 Tobacco Research Council Labs, Harrogate (as statistician)

1974-79: statistician and research coordinator employed by London's Tobacco Research Council. Lee has published 155 papers in scientific journals and books.

1975 Sep 3 Francis JC Roe and Peter N Lee, both lifetime tobacco lobbyists from the UK, visited New York and the new American Health Foundation, Naylor Dana Institute, then reported (4 pages) to British American Tobacco. [2]

1989 Nov 19 [Wrong date on document] The Environmenal Protection Agency (EPA) was in the process of publicly asserting that second-hand smoke (ETS) was a known carcinogen ("risk assessment").

This is a draft speech script prepared for a media briefing by Dr Don de Bethizy, sentior toxicologist at RJ Reynolds. They have lined up all the industry's favourite scientific touts who are being paid to attack

..."the scientific merit of two EPA draft documents -- the ETS risk assessment and the workplace smoking guide" [which he says] contain many major scientific shortcomings. The time we have today only permits us to scratch the surface.

[In fact they dug out the deepest slime in the pit. Every scientist mentioned here is a long-term tobacco industry science-for-sale entrepreneur or witness for hire.]

Today, you'll hear why

  • Gray Robertson, an internationally regarded expert on indoor air quality, believes the Workplace Smoking Guide is poorly conceived, with conclusions that are ill-considered.
    [Robertson was the owner of ACVA/HBI -- the most corrupt of all the indoor air testing company employed by the tobacco industry. He was one of the industry's main contract lobbyists.]
  • After Gray Robertson, you'll hear from Dr Phil Witorsch, pulmonary physician and a clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center. He will detail the specific reasons he believes the EPA has drawn invalid from evidence concerning the relationship between ETS and respiratory diseases in children.
    [He spent most of his time as a tobacco consultant lobbyist, travelling around the world to provide witness services for the tobacco industry in court cases. He was a founding member of the notorious IAPAG (Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group) which was a 'WhiteCoats' organisation run by tobacco lawyers Covington & Burling.]
  • Dr. John Wesley Clayton, professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona, and former president of the International Congress of Toxicologists, will discuss the available toxicological data on ETS. None of these data appears in the Risk Assessment. And -- more important -- none supports the contention that ETS is a human carcinogen.
    [Clayon had then been receiving CTR grants for 15 years, and in return, on his retirement, he had become a professional witness who worked extensively for the Tobacco Institute (and probably any other industry with the funds). He was handled by lawyers Shook Hardy & Bacon.]
  • Dr Maurice E LeVois, a highly experienced epidemiologist who has designed large studies for the US government will detail some important omissions in the Risk Assessment. As Dr LeVois will point out,the draft arbitrarily omits important epidemiological, dosimetric, medical and statistical evidence that conflicts with the conclusions reached by the EPA.
    [LeVois was, at various times, the partner of Max Layard and also George Carlo -- both notorious science-for-sale entrepreneurs (Carlo also for the cellphone industry). During the 1990s they worked almost full-time for two industries -- tobacco and dioxin/herbicides -- mainly through infiltrating organisations like Veterams Affairs and conducting their fake studies]
  • Dr. Richard L Tweedie, the dean of information and computing sciences at Bond University in Australia, will present the findings of his own analysis of the epidemiologic studies conducted on ETS. And he will discuss some major differences between his conclusions and those reached by the EPA.
    [Tweedie and his girlfriend (also a long-term tobacco tout) Kerry Mengerson were rewarded with an endowed chair at the University of Colorado]
  • Peter N. Lee, a British statistician whose work is frequently cited by the EPA in the Risk Assessment, will explain why the misclassification adjustment made by the EPA is mathematically incorrect.
    [Lee spent his life as a full-time contractor in statistics to the Tobacco Advisory Committee (TAC) of the UK. He was retained to try to find holes in any adverse scientific finding.]
    Dr William J. Butler, a biostatistician, will focus on the EPA's failure to identify or discuss several important confounding factors that could account for most -- if not all -- of the increased risk noted by the EPA.
    [Butler was a contract scientific lobbyist from the company Failure Anaiysis, Inc. Butler and this company worked extensively for the tobacco industry: he was one of their regular witnesses used with State Assembly hearings. He also spoke at Philip Morris's closed McGill Uni. ETS symposium -- which only enrolled paid industry touts.]
  • Dr Joseph L Fleiss, the head of the division of biostatistics at the Columbia University School of Public Health, will discuss a number of considerations that make meta-analyis an invalid basis for drawing conclusions about ETS.
    [A regular Tobacco Institute consultant and speaker used at fake/closed conferences. (McGill Uni.)]
  • Dr. Paul Switzer, a professor of statistics at Stanford University, will focus on a number of statistical uncertainties, inconsistencies and biases that seriously undermine the scientific credibility of the Risk Assessment.
    [Another regular scientific witness who also played a key role in the loaded McGill University ETS Symposium,]
  • Finally, Dr W Gary Flamm, the president of the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology, will talk about serious violations of scientific objectivity contained within the .document. [
    The Society was a front for a group of science-for-sale toxicologist who worked for a range of industries with poisoning and polluting problems. Flamm also lectured at McGill.]


1993 Feb 25 Peter N Lee and Francis JC Roe have visited Professors Bela J Szende (Semmelweiss Medical University) and Gabor Kendrey in Budapest. They want to use Hungarian autopsy data from people who have died from lung cancer; they are looking for rates of false-positives and false-negatives in diagnosis. They also want to check for later changes in death certificates after microscopic analysis of lung tissue.

One "200 Person" study showed that every patient dying of lung-cancer except one had smoked, so they decided against publishing the material. They saw it as only useful to check the false-positive rates. The two Hungarians were to prepare papers and send them to Lee and Roe for comment. Lee would feed them details culled from the literature as to accuracy of diagnosis. A number of papers were commissioned from Szende and Kendrey (jointly). They would also give papers at conferences if expenses were covered.

Lee included costs:

  • £16,000 for his own/company time
£ 2,500 for Roe's consultancy services
£ 2,000 for expenses in Budapest
£ 2,500 for Szende and Kendrey for discussion time
£ 1,500 each for them for travel expenses
Estimated £16,750 to complete the project [4]

1993 May 22 Peter Martin at FTR in Switzerland (PM subsidiary) sends Charles Wall ('Chuck') his own bill for a meeting with Kendrey and Szende. Peter N Lee has taken them over and will handle their expenses. [5]

1994 Feb 23 Bela Szende met with Lee and Roe in London to discuss further papers.

1994 Jul 25 Szende and Kendrey have met again with Roe and Lee at Neuchatel, Switzerland, also with a group of disinformation executives from Philip Morris's S&T FTR (Anthony Andrade, Mitchell Ritter, Iancou A Marcovitch, Andre Badstuber, MKS & Ruth Dempster) They are to review the Hungarian Autopsy study.

  1. A paper had been sent to Human & Experimental Toxicology, but not yet published.
  2. Another paper on the accuracy of diagnosis was with: Acta. Path. Med. Imm. Scan" -- and this needs to be paid to be published as a supplement.

Philip Morris would back these proposals under the control of Roe and Lee (except for the 200 person study) [6]

1993 Oct 7 Peter Lee has written a long report following his trip to Budapest, Hungry, with BAT's Issues Manager, Ray Thornton. They were looking at the possibility of repeating Lee's UK Health & Lifestyle Study in Eastern Europe -- it had maintained that smokers were exposed to different lifestyle factors than non-smokers, and these were responsible for their increased rates of lung cancer.

Hungary has become independent only a few years previously (Aug 1990), and BAT had taken over the largest privatised manufacturer. Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Reemtsma were already manufacturing there. 40% o the population smoked. They planned a questionnaire study giving some institution a healthy donation.

Lee and Francis Roe were also involved in another Budapest study on accuracy of diagnosis with Prof Szende of fthe Semmelweiss Medical Uni and Prof Kendrey of the Postgraduate Medical School. [7]

1998 The London Tobacco Research Council employes him as an investigator on numerous project. They have budgeted $195,000 for his services in 1998.