Ralph Harris

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Ralph Harris, also known as Lord Harris of High Cross, played a key role in the development of the Institute of Economic Affairs and is now a member of the House of Lords.

For most of his life Harris also worked extensively for the tobacco companies, both British-American Tobacco, and especially for Philip Morris which established a base in Switzerland (called FTR) for its European operations. The tobacco companies had also encouraged their main political law firm, Covington & Burling from Washington DC, to set up a London operation to run the industry scams and keep them at arms-length from legal discovery.

Harris and the IEA created a number of different organisations in support of the cigarette companies. FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) was the first and most successful; it was the British smoker's rights organisation which pretended to operate independently from the tobacco industry, but in actual fact was directed and funded almost totally by the companies. It was nominally run by Stephen Eyres but effectively remained under Harris's control. The two were very close friends until Eyers defrauded the operations.

Roger Bate, who had been hired by Harris at the IEA to run a fictitious Environmental Division, was also given the job of recreating the success in the USA of Steven Milloy's TASSC (The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition) junk-science operation. This was intended to brand anti-smoking science as unreliable "junk-science" while pleading for better funding of "sound science". The European version was originally known as Euro-TASSC, but later became the European Science and Environmental Forum (ESEF). It provided a front for organising confererences and publishing, but it was never as successful as TASSC in the USA. Harris also controlled this under Philip Morris funding.

Fighting Fund

"The "Neil Hamilton Fighting Fund" is run by Lord Harris of High Cross, a former president of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Norris McWhirter. Among those who have given money are Taki Theodoracopulos, the Greek socialite, the former Tory MP and whip Gyles Brandreth and the Tory MP Gerald Howarth. Another donor is Tiny Rowland's widow," Josie Rowland. [1]


A Tottenham grammar school boy who graduated from Cambridge University in 1947, Ralph Harris lectured at St Andrews university. According to a profile in the Guardian he stood for election as a Conservative candidate for several seats in Scotland in the 1950's but was unsuccessful on each occasion.

In 1956 Antony Fisher recruited Harris to become the general director of the Institute of Economic Affairs. Together with Arthur Seldon, Harris ran the IEA "well into the 1980s". [1]

He is a founder president of the Institute of Economic Affairs. According to Stephen Erickson "many of the policies enacted by Mrs Thatcher during her ten years as Prime Minister were the direct result of work being done at the IEA." [2]

Harris played a leading role in the development of the private University of Buckingham. [3]

Harris once led the anti-European integration Bruges Group.

In 1979 Margaret Thatcher made Harris a peer - Lord Harris of High Cross - allowing him to sit in the House of Lords, the upper house of the British parliament.

He was a Director of Times Newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch.

"A pipe smoker who carries as many as three spares in his pocket, Lord Harris was in the vanguard of the failed campaign to overturn smoking bans on many train services despite admitting he never commuted by rail," Kevin Maguire reported in he Guardian. [4]

"His far right views saw him blaming the poor for having little money and backing the successful campaign to liberalise shopping hours including Sunday opening," Maguire wrote.

His books include a biography of wet Tory Rab Butler, a treatise on hire purchase in the market economy, numerous attacks on the welfare state, and a 1971 volume, Down with the Poor. [5]

In March 2004 he spoke at an event organised by the Marshal Society, a Cambridge University society for the discussion of economics. "After studies by the IEA the RPM (Retail Price Maintenance) was abolished, payment for parking was introduced, as well as payment for television," the society's website stated. [6]

"The Institute was concerned with what made good economic sense, not with what was politically popular. It was this idea that inspired a common toast at the IEA - 'Down with the public interest!'", the society website states.



  • BBC A burst of freedom, organizational web page, accessed May 26, 2013.