So the three associations which represent lobbyists are making a
new attempt, seven months after Drapergate, to come up with a way of
dealing with wayward consultants.
The IPR, PRCA and Association of Professional Political Consultants APPC
have never been particularly co-ordinated in their approach to the
But last summer, after years of insisting that lobbyists were not part
of the PR industry and should be regulated separately, the APPC finally
agreed to try to devise a joint way forward with the IPR and PRCA.
However, new problems arose when those around the table could not agree
on whether the regulation should be of individuals or of agencies and
companies, such as Tesco or Boots, which employ public affairs
Peter Walker, who was IPR president last year, was pushing for
regulation of individuals, either via their employment contracts, which
would point them towards an agreed code, or via a register. He believes
it would be difficult for the associations to police lobbyists employed
by companies - as opposed to agencies.
However the other two associations felt it would be too complicated and
expensive to run a register of the thousands of lobbyists working in
Now that Philip Dewhurst has taken over from Walker at the IPR, there
seems to be renewed will to find a joint solution. Fingers crossed.