It has appointed former Labour MP Candy Atherton and Michael Green, the ex head of corporate comms at Vivendi, to launch the operation, branded SouthWestminster. The pair, based in Cornwall and Devon respectively, will work closely with Rebekah Paczek, who has been made head of the agency's property practice, based in London.
'The South-West is a massive region that is ill-served. We propose to operate within the region and take its case to Westminster,' said Weber Shandwick Public Affairs managing director Jon McLeod.
'SouthWestminster will launch organisations in the region more effectively into the power bases in London to access resources, influence decisions and provide support to large-scale regeneration projects,' he added.
Atherton lost her Falmouth & Cambourne seat to the Liberal Democrats in May's general election. Atherton hit the headlines in the run-up to the campaign when her gay former researcher claimed unfair dismissal and alleged he had been asked to 'dish the dirt' on Ashley Crossley, the gay Tory candidate for the constituency. She was cleared of the allegations by an employment tribunal.
Green was at Vivendi until 2003, prior to which he was a correspondent for ITN. Paczek joined WS last year as an associate director from The Communication Group (PRWeek, 10 September 2004).