Weakened lobbying body vows to keep fighting

UK Public Affairs Council chairman speaks out after controversial PRCA exit.

The chairman of the UK Public Affairs Council has insisted that the body will continue to fight for the UK lobbying industry - despite last week's shock walk-out by the PRCA.

UKPAC was set up last year by the industry bodies to provide a united front for agency and in-house consultants as the Government draws up plans for a statutory register of lobbyists.

The future of the UKPAC was hanging in the balance after the PRCA's actions, but the council's chairman Elizabeth France has refused to dismantle the body. In an exclusive article for PRWeek, she states: 'Creating a register of lobbyists is not a straightforward issue, but the UK Public Affairs Council remains the answer.'

In a letter sent to ministers last Friday, chief executive Francis Ingham announced the PRCA's decision, saying UKPAC had failed to clean up the industry's reputation and slamming its 'inaccurate and unreliable' voluntary register. The move came as the industry continued to digest The Independent's expose of Bell Pottinger's lobbying tactics. The PRCA is investigating Bell Pottinger's behaviour but this could take up to three months.

The PRCA's decision prompted the resignation of one member of the PRCA Council, Keith Johnston. Meanwhile, at last week's CIPR Public Affairs annual dinner, the group's chairman Iain Anderson fumed: 'The PRCA has walked out on a year's worth of collective, co-operative activity with the APPC and CIPR ... The PRCA decision to quit UKPAC is a counterproductive move, especially in the current circumstances. In fact it is a smokescreen.'

Ingham described Anderson's charge as 'absurd' and insisted he had given UKPAC ample warning of the PRCA's dissatisfaction.

Elizabeth France's article, page 9.

UK LOBBYING

- The UK Public Affairs Council was set up in 2010 by the CIPR, PRCA and APPC

- A statutory register was part of the coalition agreement, with legislation due to be introduced in 2012

- The Government is in the final stages of preparing a consultation paper on the register. The consultation was due to be published last month but is now expected in the New Year.

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