Key Labour figures quit Lowe Bell Political

Neal Lawson and Ben Lucas, the two key Labour figures at Lowe Bell Political, have quit to set up their own consultancy with Jon Mendelsohn - a former aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Neal Lawson and Ben Lucas, the two key Labour figures at Lowe Bell

Political, have quit to set up their own consultancy with Jon Mendelsohn

- a former aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair.



Backed by a fourth shareholder, Pentland Group chairman Stephen Rubin,

the firm - Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn - will eschew contact-based lobbying

in favour of strategic consultancy.



Lawson, who is currently deputy MD of LBP, said that the political

environment had changed and companies had to put political

considerations ’at the heart of their corporate decision-making’.



The new firm plans to work with associates from the media, advertising

and market research and will also hire full-time consultants. Despite

the three partners impeccable New Labour credentials - all three had key

roles in the election campaign - Lawson denied the firm would be a

closed shop for Labour supporters.



The news of their departure upstaged Lowe Bell parent company Chime’s

announcement that it has bought lobbying firm The Russell Partnership

for pounds 850,000.



Set up by former Ian Greer partner John Russell in 1969, it has 12 staff

and counts the Tobacco Manufacturers Association among its clients.



The firm made a pre-tax profit of pounds 124,000 in the year to 31 March

1997.



It owns offices in Westminster, into which Lowe Bell Political’s 12

staff will now move.



Russell will become deputy chairman although LBP managing director Kevin

Bell retains executive responsibility.



Chime chairman Sir Tim Bell said the purchase was unconnected with the

departure of Lawson and Lucas - which he said was amicable.



He dismissed the suggestion that Lowe Bell is now regarded as a ’Tory

agency’ and said he was in the process of hiring two new people with a

Labour background.



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