Scottish executive gives lobbyists the green light

The Scottish executive has given Scotland’s lobbying industry a clean bill of health, five months after allegations of cash-for-influence led to the closure of Beattie Media’s public affairs arm.

The Scottish executive has given Scotland’s lobbying industry a

clean bill of health, five months after allegations of

cash-for-influence led to the closure of Beattie Media’s public affairs

arm.



The report into the use of PR agencies by public bodies, promised by

first minister Donald Dewar last September, was published last week, and

stated that the evidence gathered had ’not identified any grounds for

concern’.



Almost pounds 4 million was spent by bodies under the Scottish executive

since July. A quarter was spent by the executive on campaigns through

its information directorate. Of the remaining pounds 3 million, the

report said: ’No body reported any payment for seeking advice or

assistance to approach, influence or persuade others such as MSPs or

ministers.’



One senior Scottish PR consultant expressed surprise at this statement,

but pointed out that the figures did not include agency use by local

authorities, since they are not in the executive’s remit.



Beattie Media, at the eye of August’s ’lobbygate’ storm, had 23 PR

contracts with public bodies last year, almost twice as many as its

nearest rival.



The executive is considering a repeat exercise this year.



Kirsty Regan, secretary of the Association for Scottish Public Affairs,

welcomed the findings. She said: ’We will continue to promote good

practice in public affairs and provide a forum for members to discuss

such issues.’



Philip Chalmers, a member of Donald Dewar’s communications unit, has

resigned because of media attention over a drink-related motoring

offence.



Chalmers is the second key aide to quit, a month after chief of staff

John Rafferty.



Leader, p10.



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