LONDON: The former executive director of Greenpeace UK has joined
Burson-Marsteller - a move that has created a fire-storm in the British
The Guardian newspaper has branded Burson "the company that governments
with poor human rights records and corporations in trouble with
environmentalists have turned to when in crisis."
Lord Peter Melchett will chair a corporate social responsibility group
at the agency, which, according to The Guardian, lists among its current
and former clients Three Mile Island nuclear plant, Union Carbide (after
the Bhopal gas leak), BP (after the sinking of an oil tanker), and a
post-mad-cow British government. The agency also allegedly worked with
food biotechnology company Monsanto, a leader in an industry Melchett,
an organic farmer, was once arrested for protesting against. Burson
would not comment on whether or not it handled these clients.
Richard Aylard, director of Burson's corporate social responsibility
team, told PRWeek that Melchett's view on environmental and social
issues is interesting to the agency and its clients. He also admitted,
"Not all of our clients would want to work with Peter Melchett, but
there are some of our clients he would not want to work with."
Melchett cautioned environmentalists who will not meet with those who
hold alternative views. "When I was at Greenpeace, we had meetings with
Monsanto and the nuclear industry," Melchett said. "If environmentalists
believe they have a story to tell, they must tell it to people who agree
with them and the people who disagree with them. We'd lead a deeply
unproductive life if we only spoke to people we agree with."
Melchett said he would do nothing at Burson that would be a conflict of
interest with his Greenpeace activities.