My Twitter joust with Juul's Peter Beckett
Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 9:34
Simon Clark

I’ve been embroiled in a rather weird Twitter spat, not of my instigation.

A few weeks ago I was told that someone called Peter Beckett had responded to one of my tweets (congratulating former Forest spokesman Brian Monteith on his election to the European Parliament) with this:

Yep. You heard it here first. Cigarette lobbyists for #Brexit.

— Peter Beckett (@peterbeckett) May 27, 2019

I hadn’t seen it because I don’t follow Peter and at that time his tweets were protected.

The name Peter Beckett rang a bell however and I eventually remembered who he was. We’d met when I was in Geneva for COP8 last year.

He worked for the e-cigarette company Juul but we barely spoke so he made very little impression on me.

Anyway, here he was, having a little dig at Forest, so I replied:

Peter, your tweets are protected. If you comment on or reply to my tweets it’s polite to tag me. Not sure why you would describe us as cigarette lobbyists. We campaign for choice & defend the interests of the consumer, smokers & vapers. What do you do? @peterbeckett @JUULvapor

— Simon Clark (@simonclark_) May 29, 2019

Owing to the protected status of his tweets it was difficult to fully engage because I had to rely on one of his followers sending me screen shots of his replies.

Consequently our exchange quickly fizzled out and I thought no more about it until yesterday when, out of the blue, he had another go at me.

This time it was in response to my tweeting a link to an excellent article by Claire Fox. (Claire, as you know, has been elected to the European Parliament as a member of the Brexit party and the article was about her first day in Brussels. I urge you to read it.)

This article should be read by all the smug EU apologists I meet whenever I’m in Brussels but they won’t care because most of them are on the gravy train too.

— Simon Clark (@simonclark_) June 15, 2019

I was unaware that Peter is a lobbyist in Brussels so my comment was not directed at him but he decided that it was and tweeted:

Hi Simon. Nice to hear that I'm a smug EU apologist from Brussels. Rather that than a smug apologist for deadly cigarettes.

— Peter Beckett (@peterbeckett) June 15, 2019

This time I saw it because his tweets are no longer protected so I immediately replied:

Hi Peter, how lovely to hear from you (again). Can you confirm that the cigarette manufacturer Altria owns a 35% stake in the company you work for? @JUULvapor

— Simon Clark (@simonclark_) June 15, 2019

I didn't know if I had struck a nerve but several hours passed before I discovered he had unfollowed me!

And there was another twist. When I mentioned this on Twitter he replied:

Yes. Accidentally sorry. You'll find I've re-followed. Thanks for pointing out

— Peter Beckett (@peterbeckett) June 15, 2019

He then tweeted:

I've never advocated on behalf of smoking. You have / do. Hence my comments are valid.

— Peter Beckett (@peterbeckett) June 15, 2019

To which I responded:

Forest has never advocated smoking. We’re advocates of choice and personal responsibility, hence our support for adults who make an informed choice to smoke, vape or do neither.

— Simon Clark (@simonclark_) June 15, 2019

So there we have it. I barely know the guy. I don’t follow him on Twitter (although he follows me) yet on two separate occasions he has described Forest as “cigarette lobbyists” and accused me personally of being a “smug apologist for deadly cigarettes”.

Did I mention he works for the e-cigarette company Juul, 35 per cent of which is owned by the cigarette manufacturer Altria?

But that’s OK because Peter has never advocated smoking.

At least we have one thing in common.

Update: Peter has responded to my post by telling me 'we've met several times over a number of years. The first was I think four years ago ...'

I genuinely don't remember. Sorry.

Update: He’s unfollowed me again.

Update: And now his tweets are protected (again) which is why you can’t see them properly in the post above!

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