INTERNATIONAL: Former Royal aide claims ABC comms job

SYDNEY: The Queen's former press secretary Geoffrey Crawford has taken on the top communications role at Australian TV network ABC.

ABC - Australia's equivalent of the BBC - has named Crawford as director of corporate affairs in place of Victoria Buchan, a reportedly close ally of ABC's recently-departed managing director Jonathan Shier.

Crawford, who spent more than 12 years at Buckingham Palace and nearly three years as media adviser to Diana, Princess of Wales, starts at ABC in two weeks time, reporting to the deputy managing director.

He takes responsibility for all ABC's communications, overseeing corporate comms, marketing, media relations, audience and consumer affairs, corporate policy and corporate planning and governance.

ABC acting managing director Russell Balding, said of Crawford's appointment to the network's executive management team: 'He has an outstanding record of achievement in corporate affairs and media liaison and his arrival at ABC will further strengthen our corporate support functions.'

Crawford returned to his native Australia at the end of 2000 and most recently worked as Edelman PR Worldwide's head of public affairs and corporate comms, based in Sydney and reporting to region MD Jill Collins.

Edelman will not directly replace Crawford when he departs. His team will take over his client roster.

The former career diplomat joined the Palace in 1988 as assistant to the Queen on secondment from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

In 1993, he became press adviser to the Princess of Wales, but is reported to have resigned in 1996 after Diana failed to tell him in advance of the notorious Panorama interview, in which she admitted adultery.

Crawford is widely credited with having been instrumental in helping steer the Royal Family through the crisis after Diana's death in 1997 and helping the monarchy to prevent a PR disaster.

The Queen's former deputy press secretary Penelope Russell-Smith replaced Crawford when he quit Buckingham Palace nearly 18 months ago (PRWeek, 8 December 2000).

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