Media Strategy has resigned from the Association of Professional Political Consultants because the recent appointment of Lord O'Neill to its advisory board is in breach of the APPC's code of conduct.
Clause 8 of the code states member consultancies must not employ or pay an MP, MEP or sitting peer. The APPC's management committee met on 8 July to consider complaints from members about O'Neill's hire (PRWeek, 1 July).
But Media Strategy pre-empted a suspension by resigning its membership in a letter received on 5 July.
In a statement, the management committee said it felt Media Strategy had 'dismissed the seriousness of the complaints' and was disappointed at its 'readiness to resign' rather than 'sort out the problem or comply with the code of conduct'.
Media Strategy managing director Charles Lewington countered: 'When we appointed O'Neill, we recognised we were in breach of the letter of the APPC guidelines, though not its spirit. O'Neill is not a paid consultant, nor has he joined the board of the company.
'Advisory boards are common throughout the business and consultancy world, many of which include MPs or peers. We felt (tendering our resignation) was the right thing for us to do in the circumstances.'
The APPC was set up over ten years ago to foster transparency in the lobbying industry after the 'cash for questions' scandal involving Ian Greer.
Media Strategy had only been a member for the past year.