UK lobbyist in libel threat over Enron

LONDON - The lobbyist alleged to have fixed political sponsorship deals for fallen US energy giant Enron is threatening to sue UK newspapers for libel.

Karl Milner, a consultant at WPP-owned Finsbury's political and regulatory affairs arm, was named in six news pieces last week as having advised Enron on its payment for places at hospitality receptions run by Labour and the Conservatives.



Milner denies the claims.



Milner met lawyers this week with a view to libel action. He is undecided on whether to sue or complain to the Press Complaints Commission -- whose chairman, Lord Wakeham, has for four years been a non-executive director of Enron.



A number of publications are now thought to have accepted Milner played no role for Enron and have apologised to him.



The collapse of Enron -- which became the biggest bankruptcy in corporate history when it filed for creditor

protection in December - has already led to a glut of litigation in the US. It has also accounted for one senior manager's suicide and questions over why company auditor Andersen shredded crucial documents months before the collapse.



The newspaper reports claimed Milner, who was at GJW before joining Finsbury, acted for Enron when it was a GJW client. A GJW spokesman said the agency had approached Enron in 1996 and 1998, but had not won business.



Enron has employed Charles Miller as its UK lobbying adviser for more than a decade. From 1990 until 1997 this meant using the Public Policy Unit, of which Miller was MD. Miller merged PPU into Citigate Public Affairs in 1997 and Enron was a client until the bankruptcy.



Miller also denies organising Enron's Labour sponsorships, claiming they were decided on by the company's in-house

UK regulatory affairs team. Neither Enron nor administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers were available for comment.



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