Last month, PRWeek revealed that an employee of Fuel PR had been used as the subject of a 'real life' feature written by the Press Association and sold to several national newspapers, in which the Fuel employee endorsed a product the firm represented.
However, the Press Association said that it had not been made aware that the individual - who used a pseudonym - was a Fuel employee, nor that she was not using her real name. The news agency then apologised to and refunded a number of national newspapers who had used the story.
The PRCA then announced an investigation into Fuel PR, which is based in South West London and owned by MD Gillian Waddell. The investigation was opened following a complaint from Adrian Wheeler, who is former chairman of the PRCA and board director of the CIPR.
PRWeek has been told by the PRCA that its Professional Practices Committee has concluded that a 'prima facie' case does exist against Fuel PR.
The PRCA has therefore convened a hearing to be held in the week commencing 21 September. Both Fuel PR and Wheeler have been invited to state their case verbally and answer the committee's questions.
Were Fuel PR to be found to have been in breach of the PRCA’s Code of Conduct and Professional Charter, it could face a variety of sanctions including expulsion from the trade body.