Review of Government PR set to begin amid criticism

The independent team of PR and media heavyweights investigating the spate of scandals surrounding Government communications is to meet for the first time today (Friday).

Despite drawing the bulk of its membership from outside Government - notably PR agencies and journalism - the 13-strong team does contain four Government communicators, a move that has already provoked criticism.

Shadow deputy prime minister David Davis argued this week that the committee, chaired by Guardian Media Group CEO Bob Phillis, should be wholly independent.

The review team includes Good Relations Political Communications MD David Hill and Maitland Consultancy partner Colin Browne.

Government communicators include Department of Health comms director Sian Jarvis and the Prime Minister's official spokesmen, Tom Kelly and Godric Smith. Journalists include Evening Standard political editor Charles Reiss.

The first meeting will involve drawing up a timetable and work programme for the review, which is set to take months, before a final report is sent to Cabinet Office minister Douglas Alexander.

Options to be considered by the review team are understood to include a scrapping of the Government Information and Communications Service or a possible strengthening of the role of Downing Street in directing media relations.

Phillis said this week that the recent handling of the release of the Government's latest Iraq dossier would also come under the spotlight.

Hill, a former special adviser and chief spokesman for the Labour Party, said: 'The committee has called for a radical review and that's what we intend to do.' He added he expected the role of special advisers to continue but with a more clearly defined relationship with the rest of government.

PRS ON THE PANEL

Colin Browne partner, The Maitland Consultancy

- David Hill MD, Good Relations Political Communications

- Rupert Howell former joint CEO, Chime Communications

- Hywell James director, Brown, Lloyd, James

- Sian Jarvis comms director, Department of Health

- Sue Jenkins deputy head, GICS

- Tom Kelly and Godric Smith Official spokesmen for the Prime Minister

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