British Energy spurns BP-PA in director spat

Nuclear generator British Energy has pulled out of a deal at the eleventh hour to hand its PR contract to Bell Pottinger Public Affairs after it discovered the director assigned to the account has an anti-nuclear track record.

The debt-laden company was told by the Nuclear Industry Association that BP-PA director Neil Stockley put his name to anti-nuclear policy papers when he was director of policy for the Liberal Democrats in the 1990s.

BE’s decision to appoint the Chime Communications lobbying outfit ended Hill & Knowlton’s 14-year hold on the account (PRWeek, 2 April). But now the company will have to review the contract again later in the summer.

‘The [BP-PA] account team didn’t align with our needs and didn’t reflect the principles of the company,’ said BE head of external affairs Carl Gibson.

But BP-PA MD Peter Bingle said: ‘Neil is the leading energy consultant in public affairs. If he saw no problem in leading the account, nor did I.’ Stockley was unavailable to comment.

BE wants to promote nuclear energy’s green credentials. Gibson, who joined BE late last year, retained BP-PA when he was director of regulatory affairs at Energis.

The European Commission is expected to give the go-ahead in coming weeks to a government-backed rescue package for BE.

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