Lanesborough Luncheons

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Lanesborough Lunches were a series of informal lunch events starting in 1999, organised by the Institute for United States Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London), but funded by Japan Tobacco International.[1] They were held at the Lanesborough Hotel[2] which is reportedly the most expensive hotel in London.[3]

Extracts from the speeches given at successive Lanesborough Lunches were published in the Risk of Freedom Briefing, edited by Roger Scruton and also funded by Japan Tobacco International. The first Lanesborough Lunch (20/5/99) was addressed by Frank Furedi of the LM network.[4] The lunches[5] were cited by lobbyists Edouard Peter and Michael McKay of Advisio International as an example of a 'platform and follow-through series' which can help in 'conditioning public debate'.[6] The strategy recommended is

First, elevate the issue as high up the scale of logic, objectivity and social relevance as possible: It is not about this or that product, it is the boundaries to freedom of commerce... For example, practically all products may have negative health consequences, yet there is the broader issue of personal choice that needs to be balanced with an inclination to regulate. The freedom for adults to make their good or bad choices attracts influential audiences who otherwise may have no particular interest in the particular products.
Second, have a prestigious and credible third party assume the public debate on your behalf. The corporation doesn’t hide, yet its spokespersons never take the front of the stage in the public debate. Wherever possible, the third party is an independent institution, a recognized platform for objective debate among experts.
Bringing these two conditions together requires enormous tact, long-standing networks of relations at the highest levels and the ability to behave in a neutral fashion as a bridge between academic, political, media and commercial thought processes. The latter often disqualifies large, well-known consultancies. That is why this approach is not applied more often. Or if it is, can’t attract attention to itself and risk self-defeat.[6]



  1. School of Advanced Study, University of London Annual Report 2000/01. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 22 June 2006 on 4 October 2014.
  2. Mick Hume The Right to be Offensive: Free Speech, Autonomy and Censorship. Risk of freedom Briefing, No. 7: p. 3. Retrieved from the Internet archive of 19 October 2007 on 20 October 2014.
  3. LBC Home > News > 1. The Lanesborough - London's Most Expensive Hotel Suites. Accessed 19 October 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Frank Furedi 'Litigious Britain: Consolation and the compensation culture' The Risk of Freedom Briefing, Issue No. 1 October 1999, p. 3.
  5. Along with other events such as the Centre for the New Europe / Liberty Lunch Series and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung / Berliner Mittagsdebatte
  6. 6.0 6.1 Edouard Peter and Michael McKay Proactive Positioning – a Public Affairs approach A White Paper Jedco Conseil, posted 15 August 2005. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 7 September 2008 on 24 January 2015.
  7. Anthony Daniels Podium: Anthony Daniels: A little medical knowledge is a dangerous thing, From a lecture given by the medical practitioner and writer at a Lanesborough Lunch in London on the Risk of Freedom. The Independent, Thursday 02 December 1999
  8. Niall Ferguson The Cash Nexus: Money and Politics in Modern History, 2013.