EDITORIAL: Scottish PA consultants watch out

Attempts by the Scottish Parliament to restrain the activities of

lobbyists are a knee-jerk reaction to the Beattie Media scandal.



The incident - in which public affairs consultants for the Glasgow-based

firm were alleged to have peddled influence with the Scottish secretary

in exchange for cash - has scarred the minds of those who sit on the

Parliament's standards committee. It now seems unstoppable in its desire

to tar all lobbyists with the same brush as was used on Beattie.



Constraints will probably be imposed, despite calls by the lobbying

trade bodies - which PRWeek supports - to keep the self-regulation

system in place. Self-regulation is seen by groups such as the PRCA and

the APPC as a solid enough deterrent through its threat of peer group

humiliation.



It looks bleak for PA consultants, but the constraints could be halted.

The Human Rights act, which brought the European Convention on Human

Rights into UK law, comes down hard on those who limit freedom of

expression or restrain trade. The Parliament could find itself up

against greater barriers than even it is proposing.



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