PRCA urges agency to rethink 'incredibly unwise' appointment of peer

The PRCA has criticised the appointment of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords by Charlotte Street Partners as a consulting partner, and urged the agency to reconsider.

Lord Ian Duncan has  previously served as a government minister
Lord Ian Duncan has previously served as a government minister

The appointment of Lord Ian Duncan to the public affairs, corporate and financial agency was “simply wrong” and “incredibly unwise”, senior figures in the PRCA said in a joint statement.

The PRCA said Charlotte Street Partners, which is not one of its members, was one of the few lobbying agencies which “do not declare adherence to a Code of Conduct”, despite appearing on the Government’s statutory Lobbying Register.

PRWeek reported on the appointment of Duncan, intended to give the agency strategic insight and advice to clients on engagement with the European Union, last week.

'Disrepute'

Liam Herbert, chair of the PRCA’s Public Affairs Board, said its code of conduct was clear that people could not be both legislators and lobbyists.

He added: “It is simply wrong for lobbying firms to employ members of the House of Lords, and unthinkable that the Deputy Speaker of the Lords himself would think it appropriate to accept such a job.”

Francis Ingham, director-general of the PRCA, added: “I would urge them to do the ethical thing, and to rethink this incredibly unwise appointment, which brings the House of Lords into disrepute.”

Lord Duncan served as the Conservatives’ minister for climate change in the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and has also been Parliamentary under secretary of state in the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales offices.

He was made a life peer in 2017.

'Green light from ACOBA'

Responding to the PRCA’s criticism, a spokesperson for Charlotte Street Partners said Duncan’s appointment had been approved by the Government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

They added: “His work for us, as a strategic consultancy, will focus on analysis and advice relating to the European Union, and on environmental matters. This is fully compliant with ACOBA guidance, which makes clear that he is not permitted to undertake any lobbying, which was never the intention.”

In November, the House of Lords’ Commissioner for Standards rejected a complaint brought by the PRCA against Lord Feldman, managing partner at Tulchan, which alleged he had failed to uphold ethical standards.

The PRCA said there was a conflict of interest because of his work for the agency and his role as an unpaid advisor to the Government.

Later that month, the PRCA dropped a complaint against Portland after it said it had severed ties with Lord O'Shaughnessy.



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