Lobbying row escalates as client AHIPP turns on Luther Pendragon

The Association of Home Information Pack Providers has attempted to distance itself from public affairs firm Luther Pendragon following last week's row over lobbying tactics.

Distancing itself from Luther Pendragon: AHIPP
Distancing itself from Luther Pendragon: AHIPP

PRWeek previously revealed that the Conservative Party had accused Luther Pendragon of conducting a ‘crass' lobbying campaign on behalf of AHIPP.

The Tories lashed out after the agency mass emailed hundreds of MPs and candidates with a letter attacking the party's plans to scrap Home Information Packs.

Now, AHIPP has set out to clear its name. In a statement, director general Mike Ockenden said: ‘We were suddenly informed by Pendragon that they wanted to terminate our contract on 18 February.  Subsequently they then sent out letters they drafted, on our behalf, to all Tory MPs but sent the wrong letters to the wrong recipients.'

Luther Pendragon responded with its own statement confirming that the controversial emails had been sent out in error.

‘In the course of our work for a client, the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, letters were sent by email to a number of MPs and PPCs, including Conservative MPs and candidates on 19 February.

‘Luther Pendragon had resigned the account earlier in the month. This decision was reached due to differences of opinion between the agency and the client relating to strategy and tactics.

‘However, as part of honouring our contractual notice period and continuing to deliver a service to the client, these letters were sent from a company email address. These were signed by the client, expressed their views and were sent out at their request. Due to a technical error by Luther Pendragon some of the letters did not take account of those who had engaged on the issue.

‘Subsequently, and at Luther Pendragon's insistence, the client has apologised directly to those who took offence at the content.

‘Luther Pendragon regrets any offence caused and has concluded it would have been better if the letters had not been sent by Luther Pendragon on the client's behalf, which, in any event, is not standard company practice.

‘In this instance, we were acting as a functionary on behalf of a client passing on their views to relevant political stakeholders. However, due to a one-off administrative error the communication was sent out directly from us, rather than from the client themselves.'

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