Public Affairs: BPPA loses top Lib Dem

Neil Stockley is latest senior lobbyist to quit Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

Bell Pottinger Public Affairs has been hit by the resignation of its leading Liberal Democrat lobbyist Neil Stockley.

Stockley, a former director of policy for the Lib Dems, has been a director at BPPA since 2002. He is the third senior lobbyist to resign from Peter Bingle's agency in recent months and the move comes amid uncertainty over the agency's client list.

Last month, BPPA lost director Alex Deane to arch-rival Weber Shandwick. Deane's departure was widely seen as a blow to BPPA, depriving the agency of one of its best-connected Tory consultants.

In recent weeks another senior BPPA lobbyist, Kevin Doran, was named as joint-MD of Grayling Belgium's EU public affairs team. Doran made the switch last month, having previously been Brussels-based European affairs director for BPPA.

Stockley, who could not be reached for comment, is set to join telecommunications firm Arqiva.

As well as being a former Lib Dem policy chief, he is a member of the party's Federal Policy Committee and in 2007 chaired the working group that developed a new climate change policy for the Lib Dems.

Well-placed sources said that the resignations followed a number of BPPA clients reviewing their requirements.

Earlier this year, BPPA lost its big-money account with BAE Systems to Portland. It is understood that in recent weeks, key clients Jacobs, Carlyle Group and Fluor have also reviewed their public affairs support.

Bingle insisted: 'We are still advising Carlyle Group and Fluor.' However, he declined to say whether this was on a retained basis. Bingle also did not say whether BPPA's lucrative accounts with the governments of Bahrain and Sri Lanka were still in place.

Yet Bingle insisted the agency was in better shape than any of its rivals. 'We are on course to once again be the most profitable public affairs agency in the sector,' he claimed. But the BPPA chairman was unable to provide figures.

As PRWeek went to press, Jacobs, Carlyle Group, Fluor, Bahrain and Sri Lanka were all listed as BPPA clients on the UK Public Affairs Council register.

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