LONDON: Jack Cassidy, an American PR and marketing consultant, has
been tapped to replace Murray Harkin as acting managing director for
R-JH Public Relations, the notorious UK firm co-owned by the Countess of
Cassidy was a non-executive director at the small agency, which has been
under intense scrutiny following the publication last Sunday of
transcripts of a conversation between the Countess (who is married to
Prince Edward), Harkin and a journalist posing as an Arab sheik and
In the phony interview, staged by UK tabloid News of the World, Harkin
reportedly told the fake sheik that the firm could be involved in
arranging gay-sex parties at a hotel that is an R-JH client. And both
the Countess and Harkin alluded to her status as a member of the royal
family as a client benefit.
The pair have resigned their posts as a result of the incident. However,
the Countess remains a director.
Little has been revealed about Cassidy, except that he has 25 years of
PR experience and sat on R-JH's non-executive board for six months. One
paper reported that he hails from Pennsylvania and has worked for Calvin
Klein and Ralph Lauren in the US. In spite of repeated phone calls to
R-JH, no further information was offered about Cassidy.
The UK's Institute for Public Relations has launched an investigation of
Harkin. 'Members have expressed concerns about the allegations that Mr.
Harkin had breached the code of conduct,' said Ann Mealor, the
institute's assistant director.
One of R-JH's biggest clients, The Banyan Tree hotel in Thailand, is the
first to have yanked its account. According to an article in The
Guardian, Harkin mentioned the hotel in context with possible sex
parties. The paper also reported that the Countess posed for pictures
for Hello!, a glossy British magazine, at the Sotogrande resort in
Spain, without revealing the resort was a R-JH client.