The race for the IPR presidency is hotting up and the cracks are
beginning to show - in this case on the IPR’s much vaunted register of
Launched jointly with the PRCA amid fanfare last year, the register of
lobbying activities was heralded as a demonstration of the IPR’s
‘commitment to high professional standards and greater transparency in
this growing area of public relations’.
The response has been disappointing. Of the 240 members of the IPR’s
government affairs group - not all of whom are IPR members - just 83
have registered. Among the refuseniks is presidential candidate Peter
Walker, chairman of PR and lobbying firm Pielle.
Walker - referred to this week by MP Peter Luff as an ‘anarchist’ for
his views on the implementation of the Nolan report - is similarly
dismissive of the IPR’s register which he describes as ‘ill-conceived’,
impossible to police and just the sort of wasteful bureaucracy he would
get rid of if elected.
‘We already had in place an effective and transparent system,’ he says
referring to the IPR’s existing code of conduct and requirement for
members to declare any financial links with MPs. ‘We haven’t hidden and
wouldn’t hide anything, but I think the amount of bureaucracy involved
in this register is nonsensical’.
Of course, as Walker points out, the register is voluntary, so he is
breaking no rules. Though, the IPR tells me that, in fact, this is ‘far
from clear’. Apparently the question of whether not registering lobbying
activity is a breach of the IPR’s code was considered by its
professional practices committee several months ago. ‘They agreed to
defer a decision until somebody complains about a breach of the rules’,
says my IPR mole.
Transparent? It is as clear as mud to me.