BP restructures comms ahead of Hunter's exit

BP has restructured its communications department in the wake of Anji Hunter's resignation.

Hunter, Tony Blair’s former ‘gatekeeper’, will leave the oil behemoth at the end of the year, six years after joining as director of comms (PRWeek, 14 September).

Hunter’s decision to leave has prompted the resignation of group vice-president of comms Mark Ware, to whom she has reported throughout her time at BP.

BP has decided not to hire an external replacement for Hunter. Instead, deputy ­comms director David Bickerton will step into her role.

Rather than replace Ware, BP has changed its reporting structure, ‘removing a layer’, according to BP chief spokesman Roddy Kennedy.

All comms heads, including head of investor relations Fergus Macleod, Bickerton and Kennedy, will now report to BP president and chief of staff Steve Westwell.

Ware chose to ‘rule himself out of the equation’, said Ken­nedy. While Ware did not share Hunter’s public profile, he was responsible for the over­arching comms strategy at BP, where he spent five years.

Kennedy described Ware’s decision to step down following Hunter’s departure as ­indicative of BP’s comms success. ‘He was brought in by John Browne to tidy up the comms department, reduce costs and bring in structure and discipline,’ he said. ‘Before he arrived, the department was loose and amorphous. Mark tightened it up. Now he’s moving on.’

Ware is currently seeking a new role, either in the energy industry or in comms, according to Kennedy.

Hunter will leave BP at the end of the year, but she has yet to announce her next move. Her departure is seen by some pundits as an effort by new chief executive Tony Hayward to distance BP from Blair’s government.

BP had earned the nickname ‘Blair Petroleum’, thanks to Hunter’s presence and former chief executive Lord Browne’s alleged ties to top Labour figures. Hunter was director of gov­ernment relations at 10 Down­ing Street from 1997 to 2001.

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