On 8 February, PRWeek reported that the Bank had issued the brief to bring in an external agency for a fixed term of three months to promote its diversity credentials.
Subsequently, the influential blogger Guido Fawkes commented: 'Shouldn't they be running a PR campaign to help control inflation, if anything?' Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph City diary editor Anna White commented on 7 February: 'What a waste of cash - Sir Merv must have a licence to print money.'
The brief came as a response to the bank's Annual Diversity Report 2011, which includes a plan to develop 'public relations material and stories to increase public awareness of the bank's inclusive and diverse workforce' in 2012.
However, on 4 April, an email was issued by senior supplier manager Angela Corsan to a number of pitch entrants saying: 'The bank will not be taking any proposal forward. Can I stress that this decision has no bearing on the proposals received, all were of good quality.
'The bank is looking at other aspects in this area and therefore has now withdrawn this requirement currently.'
A spokeswoman for the bank told PRWeek that the process had been suspended as the bank needed to 'think about it', but denied the brief had been ditched as a specific result of bad press.