A row broke out this week after it emerged that a letter had been sent out to all MPs urging them to sign up to backbencher John Grogan’s Early Day Motion on the subject.
The letter went on to say that organisations should only employ lobbyists who are members of the APPC. ‘All those, including government agencies, that contract public affairs or lobbying services should make APPC membership an absolute requirement,’ it declared.
The letter met with an angry response from Chris Whitehouse, MD of The Whitehouse Consultancy. In a riposte to APPC chair Gill Morris, he wrote: ‘I am not aware that I have... endorsed the sentiment that APPC membership, as opposed to code adherence, should be an “absolute requirement” for appointment by government agencies. That is not what John Grogan’s EDM says, and it is not a view that I support. Indeed, I oppose it passionately.’
Whitehouse’s letter continues: ‘I see the position you have taken as being contrary to the long-term interests of the Association. It turns an ethical debate into a thinly disguised attempt to secure commercial advantage for member companies. I would like to call for an urgent members’ meeting to discuss this point.’
PRWeek understands that Whitehouse has received messages of support from senior figures at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and DLA Piper Global Government Relations, neither of which are APPC members.
APPC chair Gill Morris did not comment on Whitehouse’s letter when approached by PRWeek, but senior sources at the APPC said that Whitehouse regularly disagreed with the leadership and that he did not speak for most members.