Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 16 December 2011

Institute of Masters of Wine open investigation into Pancho Campo MW

'Statement from the Institute regarding Pancho Campo MW (issued 16th December 2011)

The Institute of Masters of Wine is aware of certain claims being made in regard to the alleged conduct of one of its members, Pancho Campo MW. Membership of the Institute and the right to use the title Master of Wine is reserved for those individuals who have passed all aspects of the Masters of Wine Examination, agreed to abide by the Institute’s formal Code of Conduct and who remain members in good standing. 

The Code of Conduct sets out the professional and personal standards which are expected of a Master of Wine. The Institute takes alleged breaches of its Code of Conduct very seriously, and investigates all such alleged breaches once a formal complaint is made. In the event that a breach of the Code is proven, a range of sanctions is available to it. 

Having received a formal complaint into Pancho Campo MW’s alleged conduct, the Institute of Masters of Wine has opened an investigation. No conclusions have been reached, investigations will continue, and no further statement will be made until such time as the investigation has concluded.'

Media contact
Nathaniel Anderson, Communications Manager, The Institute of Masters of Wine
T: +44 (0)207 621 2830

Details of the IMW Code of Conduct are here on Jim's Loire.


Unknown said...

Jim - Isn't this all a little like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? I understand what happened in the Middle-East may not have reached the standards expected of an MW, but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
The current pay to play issues which you highlighted in Spain are hardly illegal - it is no different to product-placement by advertising and everyone has a choice what to do with their marketing budget. The sole issue around Campogate was that pay to play was completely at odds with the published WA standards, so Parker had the problem. I can't see this latter aspect being anything to do with IMW, despite, Campo's cack-handed attempts at obfuscation and denial...

Anonymous said...

I would have a major issue with this in relation to using a "fake" brand to market an event as per the sponsors alluded to for wine future.

3.3 Purchasing ­ Members involved in purchasing should at all times endeavour to buy honest and sound quality. They should not condone the marketing of any such quality as might damage public respect for and interest in wine.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks for the comments. I think it is best to leave the IMW to carry out their investigation. However, the code of conduct is not restricted to what is legal and what is illegal.

There will be further posts on this pay for access scandal with a more complete set of emails from Murcia to be posted I hope today.

Unknown said...

"pay for access scandal"
But it's not a scandal - it is about whether you want to pay the costs proposed by Campo to (indisputably) help you market your Spanish wines.

What it is, however, is highly embarassing for Parker/Miller given that it was completely at odds with to their published code of 'ethics'...

Jim's Loire said...

bilin. Sorry I don't agree. Certainly embarrassing for Parker and TWA that their ethics code was flouted. Campo used his position to demand large sums from the region's for access to Miller and has now sought to cover this up.

James Bond said...

Jim, what will happen if the investigation conducted by Parker´s lawyers and the IMW go in favor of Campo? If they show that Campo has not gone against TWA rules nor broken the IMW Code of Ethics, will you apologize?

Jim's Loire said...


Thank you for your comment.

IMW: As I haven't called for Campo to be investigated by the Institute and they will be judging whether he has contravened their code of conduct, the answer is no.

I have always had a policy of being prepared to amend, delete and apologise for any material that is shown to be wrong or false. The investigation by Robert Parker's appointed law firm does not change that and if something was demonstrated to be wrong I wouldn't wait for their report.

I hope the Parker investigation will not just be confined to Murcia but will have a broad remit.

Jim's Loire said...

James. I should also make it clear that I haven't made any complaint to the IMW about Pancho Campo.

Anonymous said...

Why should Mr. Budd apologise for simply reporting news? If, after all of this, he refused to publish the news of a favorable outcome for the Wine Advocate, Miller and/or Campo, that would be a different story. His track record is as professional as it gets, though. Frankly, if it wasn't for him none of this would have come to light and the Miller/Campo gravy train would still be rolling along.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks Anon. I certainly intend to publish (or link) to the result of Parker's investigation if possible. I would hope that it will published where it will be free for all to view not not just on erobert.

Unknown said...

Disagree Jim - but from the perspective that nobody was forced to pay anything. Paying to be present at a tasting that will (is represented as!) being published to many people can be equated to deciding to pay to advertise - there is/was no coercion - just an offer i.e. a commercial decision to consider, even if we call it pay to play.

'Scandal' is rather a tabloid word to use in this case, likewise 'demand' is a far from objective word too. It's nice to clutch at concepts like 'expensive in the current climate', but there is no more effective advertising you can get for the cost of a couple of cases of wine.

Was Campo taking advantage of his relationship with WA to 'offer' this opportunity - surely, and contrary to everything RMP writes about WA ethics - but would it have been value to the producers? Certainly it would, if they got a good score.

Now if the level of the score was equated to payment (or not) then that would indeed be a scandal - fortunately that has never been part of the problem here, rather the diminished choice for WA readers as fewer wines may be tasted if people choose not to take up the commercial decision in front of them.

Patrick said...

Have we reached mainstream media yet? What I am missing in all of this, arrived at this stage, is an explicit statement of desired outcome out from all of this work. Basically an idea as what signals to look for as to an end of hostilities.
Chasing all these people around denouncing them openly, revealing emails, names and associating people to a 'scandal' isn't appetizing to anyone.
Putting people down so as to educate them is one thing. Ruining the reputation others and their relations as collateral damage is another.
I'm with @billn here, I believe the standards are dubious to say the least, and Campo may have just rocked the IMW institution back to life on the issue of Ethics and unwillingly will be a scapegoat for it, as they become part of a media story for which they have no means of defense.
In the end, this is about a moving target, it's not about media, ethics, wine, or journalism - it's about an axe looking for the right neck to fall upon, with unwanted cuts along the way and for which apologies are useless.

Anonymous said...

While something may not be completely illegal, it can certainly be unethical and a few colors of gray based on semantics. We have enough problems in this wine industry with ethics than people who chest pound they have done nothing wrong, then take weeks to come up with a response.

Always remember, you have to remember a lie, you never forget the truth. Lies grow as it takes more lies to cover the original lie and explain the lies previously told, then once the ball gets so large, uncovering one small detail as incorrect can cause a huge avalanche which is what I believe we are seeing. You cannot ever correct a lie with the truth, when you tell the truth after a lie, it's called confessing.

I see a lot of elaboration in this entire situation in all the responses for the alleged people involved in he alleged scandal. Lies are elaborate, the truth is always a short answer.

I certainly hope as I firmly do believe so does Jim that all parties will be able to exonerate themselves with the pending investigations by independent council & now the IMW.

However, if they are exonerated without full transparency I will also be quite upset with Mr. Budd if he doesn't continue his investigation.

The wine world are full of wanna be critics, bloggers & idiots thinking because they can pronounce a wine region they are experts and provide entertaining but primarily monotone coverage on wine that has probably already had 100 articles referring to it. But it's great light blathering for people to be passionate and express themselves with something they love so much & I adore them all.

But then you have a handful of serious wine writers and unfortunately an even smaller amount of investigative wine writers. And they are the game changers.

Jim Budd has written nothing but facts presented to him & Howard Heckle in a blog, asked appropriate questions and got the world to take notice. His questions are worthy because he's simply seeking to fill the holes in the information that so far there hasn't been a straight answer for & I believe the wine world deserves an answer.

What I find surprising is if this came from the NY Times, Guardian, even crazy batshit Fox News, no one would blink an eye that a reporter has gone in and unearthed surprising information that highly affects an industry in distress in a country with a 40% unemployment rate but a blogger who breaks the story isn't worthy to do so.

Jim has done some fine investigative reporting.

Donna Thirkell
@winelush on Twitter

Jim's Loire said...


Many thanks for your kind and generous comment.

Firstly I do not feel bound by either Parker's investigation or that of the Institute of Masters of Wine. That is not to say that I will ignore what they say but in neither case was I involved in setting up their terms of reference.

The IMW situation is very clear – they are investigating, seeking to establish whether Campo has breached their rules. This is an internal matter for the Institute.

Harold and I will continue our investigation while it appears to have merit. One of the characteristics of investigative journalism is that very often you have no idea where it will lead. Neither Harold or I imagined that the email Campo sent from Tuscany on 3rd June 2011 would come into our possession and be so damning. As you say, we are (or trying our best) to report on the evidence that we have.

Of course evidence can be open to different interpretations, which is why we have posted the Murcia emails that we have in their entirety, excepting any details that would reveal our sources. This will allow others to make up their own minds.

Although I'm proud to be included within the blogging community, I have been a blogger for just over three years while I have written for the traditional print media for some 22 years. But the comments you make about bloggers is indeed pertinent.

Sadly it is perhaps part of the mind set that dismissed Campo's conviction in Dubai because it had occurred in an Arab country. What wine people forgot is that Campo freely chose to go to Dubai in 1997 and to establish his events business there as had his father in law, James Butler, done some years before with his language college.

Campo can hardly complain, when charged with stealing over $600,000 from his business partner, that he doesn't like the laws of his adopted country. Shamefully there are some who are still ready to peddle this canard.

Listening to some of the evidence being given to our Levenson inquiry into UK press ethics following the News International photo-tapping scandal, I'm struck by how often it is suggested that there is no control over bloggers etc. Significantly untrue!

In 2000 I set up my investdrinks site to look at dubious drinks investment companies. Although I chose an ISP in Canada, I was always aware that I could, quite rightly, be sued for defamation/libel in the UK. Obviously this is still the case, so here in this pay for access scandal, if I get something wrong I can be sued in the UK with its tough libel laws.

Thank you again for your support – it is much appreciated.