British Council hires drug trial crisis PRO

The British Council has filled its vacant director of comms position with one of the key spokespeople in the recent Parexel drug trial saga.

Mark Herbert will join the organisation – which exists to promote British culture abroad – at the end of July, after one year as head of communications for the North West London Hospitals Trust (NWLHT).

He played a major role in keeping the media up-to-date with the condition of the men being treated at Northwick Park Hospital after Parexel-run trials of an anti-inflammatory drug, TeGenero, left six men hospitalised.

He also ensured the media reported that the trials were held in the hospital’s independent research facility – and were not conducted by the NHS.

He will take charge of a 15-strong comms team based in London when he joins the British Council in the final week of July.

His first task will be to devise ways of standardising the organisation’s comms functions across its 110 overseas offices.

Herbert said: ‘Every country office has its own way of doing things, but we want to make sure central messages get across.’

Promotion of British culture abroad is an ‘economic, security and cultural’ need, he added, as was making sure people understood that the British Council was independent and neutral.

Two British Council offices in Gaza were torched in March in retaliation to the withdrawal of British observers from a Palestinian prison.

Prior to joining NWLHT, Herbert was head of comms for the Royal Mail’s international division.

He replaces Christopher Wade, who took charge of the British Council’s Australia arm last December.

The role has been managed in the interim by Clare Sears, who now becomes director of press and parliamentary affairs.

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