War of words between Francis Ingham and Keith Johnson over UKPAC withdrawal

PRCA chief executive Francis Ingham clashes with CIPR Public Affairs vice chairman Keith Johnson in the latest PRWeek podcast.

In a heated exchange, Ingham and Johnson express sharply contrasting views of PRCA’s decision to walk out of the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC).
Defending the PRCA's decision to throw in the towel, Ingham says: ‘The credibility of UKPAC is completely shot. We cannot continue to wait while the situation deteriorates.’
But Johnson, who last week resigned from the PRCA Council in protest last week, tells the podcast: ‘I’m completely baffled by the PRCA’s decision,’ adding that it comes ‘the worst possible time’.
The UK Public Affairs Council was set up last year to provide a united front for agency and in-house consultants as the Government draws up plans for a statutory register of lobbyists.
Ingham announced the PRCA’s decision last week, saying UKPAC had failed to clean up the industry's reputation and slamming its ‘inaccurate and unreliable’ voluntary register.
The move came as the industry continued to digest The Independent's expose of Bell Pottinger’s lobbying tactics.
In the podcast Ingham denies that the PRCA’s decision was linked to the furore over Bell Pottinger, which the PRCA is now investigating. He also denies that by pulling out of the UKPAC, the PRCA has increased the chances of heavy-handed government regulation of the profession.
Johnson, director of policy and communications at the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, is not convinced.
‘You’re confusing tactics with strategy, he says. ‘To stick the knife in right now is extraordinary in terms of timing. A united industry is where we want to be strategically and you’ve blow it out of the water. That’s the only message the Cabinet Office will get.’
But Ingham hits back: ‘I think they’ll get the message that UKPAC has failed and we need a statutory register.... UKPAC has failed. We need to accept that, walk away and move on.’

To watch the full podcast click here

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