DIARY: Herald finds something foul in the water as Chambers picks up his pot

Scottish PR firm Beattie Media is consulting new lawyers this week

after being sacked from the West of Scotland Water (WoSW) PR brief.

The agency made the news last week by hiring the authority's ex-CEO just

days after he stood down from his original job. The Herald newspaper

cried foul, claiming that outgoing boss Ernie Chambers - who picked up a

cool £350,000 from WoSW - had been instrumental in handing Beattie

a major PR contract during his time in charge.

Convinced of conflict, the paper pointed to Chambers' continuing

advisory deal with WoSW, despite leaving the top job. There was

speculation that the planned merger next year of Scotland's water

authorities would lead to a mega-PR pitch which the Glasgow-based firm

would be in a prime position to win.

It is not the first time Beattie Media - initially a vehicle for the

then news reporter Beattie to syndicate his copy - has been on the

receiving end of media ire. The agency shut its Edinburgh lobbying unit

within months of its 1999 launch after account handler Kevin Reid was

alleged to have boasted of access to senior staff in the devolved

executive, including his father, the then Scottish secretary Dr John


Beattie struck a defiant note when contacted by PRWeek, and denied his

agency had proved accident-prone: 'I'm dismayed by the WoSW decision -

we've done nothing wrong and are considering legal action,' he said.

As well as clarifying the exact focus of Beattie's legal redress, the

agency owner faces a more pressing problem - replacing his lawyers,

since the original set also work for several public sector bodies north

of the border ... including WoSW.

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