APPC opens membership to in-house public affairs specialists

The APPC is widening its membership to in-house public affairs specialists in a bid to head off the possible introduction of a statutory lobby register limited to agencies.

Darren Caplan: Association of Airport Operators chief executive
Darren Caplan: Association of Airport Operators chief executive

The Association of Airport Operators (AOA) will be one of a handful of non-agency organisations to join from 1 July, said APPC chairman Michael Burrell.

The body is amending the wording of its code, which currently applies just to ‘political consultants’, to reflect the move.

Burrell is concerned the Government is likely to press ahead with a statutory lobbying register applicable only to agencies and reasons that in-house public affairs practitioners signing up to the APPC could head off such action.

‘We will say to the Government, if you’re thinking of bringing in a register that only covers multi-client consultancies that looks odd given our voluntary register is open to in-house practitioners,’ he said.

AOA CEO Darren Caplan urged all organisations and individuals that lobby professionally, including trade associations, trade unions, voluntary and charity bodies, law firms and management consultancies ‘to join representative bodies such as the APPC, CIPR and PRCA so that no-one who lobbies could be accused by the public of lobbying under the radar’.

Caplan added it would be ‘indefensible’ for the Cabinet Office to draft a statutory register that did not include business organisations or trade unions. The AOA is also a PRCA Public Affairs Group member and Caplan is a member of the CIPR.

The APPC’s agency membership was last week boosted by the addition of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs (BPPA) for the first time in its 19-year history.

Former BPPA chairman Peter Bingle, who left last May, had opposed signing up to the APPC, though the agency enlisted to the PRCA register in 2010.

Without naming Bingle, MD of BPPA Stephen Lotinga attributed the delay to ‘differences in personalities among various people at BPPA and APPC in the past’.

Confirming BPPA would remain part of the PRCA, Lotinga said: ‘We want to play an active part in the industry and we recognise the APPC is central to that, especially for public affairs.’

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