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
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.