MPs pitch for external media adviser

LONDON - The House of Commons Commission is on the hunt for an external adviser to handle its media relations for the next three years.

The commission is in the middle of the pitch process and is understood to be likely to make a decision no sooner than mid-July.

The contract cements the importance the commission is placing on external PR support. It appointed its first external media adviser, John Stonborough six months ago. Stonborough has confirmed he will repitch for the account.

A commission spokesperson said: 'We are putting it out to tender to comply with EU tendering regulation.'

The role of the media adviser is to raise the profile of the speaker Michael Martin, the commission and the parliamentary process.

Stonborough handled media relations during the commission's spat with its former parliamentary commissioner Elizabeth Filkin.

Filkin, who was not offered a second three-year term, complained of a dirty tricks campaign against her in a leaked letter to Martin.

Stonborough was then involved in a decision to publish all correspondence between Filkin and the commission.

Martin has attracted criticism from political commentators after a series of gaffes. Last year he was forced to apologise after making what was regarded as a partisan remark during an announcement on asylum-seekers policy by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

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