Would you trust this man with your safety?

A UK member of parliament referred to in the press as a Conservative Party ‘attack dog’ and who previously worked for a PR firm that creates front organisations for polluting industries is the new health and safety minister.

Chris Grayling, who was shadow Home Secretary before the election but whose star appears to have fallen after a sequence of gaffes and sleaze allegations which left even the rabidly pro-Tory Telegraph bemused, is now minister of state at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). He reports to DWP secretary of state Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Grayling, who has been MP for Epsom and Ewell since 2001, started his career as a BBC and Channel 4 journalist before moving into public relations.

His website notes he subsequently became “a director in the Employee Communication practice at international communications firm Burson-Marsteller. He ended his time there as the firm’s European Marketing Director.”

The company is well-known in trade union, health and safety and environmental activist circles. Burson-Marsteller is one of the more prominent ‘union busting‘ firms and has acted on behalf of asbestos, tobacco, nuclear and chemical firms on regulatory and compensation issues.

It is also regarded as a pioneer in the creation of ‘astroturf’ organisations, supposedly grassroots lobbying organisations that in fact support industry arguments.

In ‘Doubt is their product’, academic David Michaels – who is now the head of the US government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, says the company created the cleverly named ‘Foundation for Clean Air Progress.’

He writes: “The organisation is run by Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm, using funds provided by the petroleum, trucking and other polluting industries.”

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