Byrne told PRWeek the Times story was 'shameful', dismissing it as an attempt to embarrass Labour during its party conference. 'This is nothing to do with PR, just making trouble for the Government. PR is a tiny fraction of spending on private contractors; most of it will be
on advertising, accountancy and defence,' he said.
Byrne claimed the paper – owned by Rupert Murdoch, the former employer of WS senior vice-chairman and ex-Sun editor David Yelland – should be 'ashamed of itself'.
DfES interim head of corporate comms Stuart Dickenson said: 'The contract to develop relationships and secure sponsorship went through a rigorous process.'
The Times was unavailable for comment.