The lobbyist accused of fixing political sponsorship deals for
fallen US energy giant Enron is threatening to sue 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, who was accused three years ago of boasting to potential clients
of access to embargoed select committee reports, 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-exec on the Enron board.
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
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