Pension fund for academics funded by Cancer Research UK invested in tobacco

Scientists funded by Cancer Research UK who spend their lives hunting for cures for the disease are among thousands of academics whose pensions are invested in the tobacco industry, the Guardian can reveal.

The latest annual report for the university staff’s pension fund shows it had £211m invested in British American Tobacco in the year to 31 March 2015 – its fifth biggest listed equities holding.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – the official name for the fund for university academics and staff – was worth £49bn in 2015. The BAT holding is not the only controversial investment; its biggest holding was £344m in Royal Dutch Shell.

But the tobacco investment will come as a shock to many researchers, academics and staff. One scientist, who is employed by a leading university but whose post is funded by CRUK, was horrified to learn that her money was being invested in this way.

Revealed: cancer scientists’ pensions invested in tobacco