Bell Pottinger's Oates claims top Lib Dems role

The Liberal Democrats have recruited a Bell Pottinger Public Affairs director to spearhead their comms strategy.

Jonathan Oates, who will start as director of policy and comms next month, told PRWeek that he wants to build the reputation of party leader Sir Menzies Campbell as a man of judgement and integrity.

Oates said: ‘We need to work harder in projecting the leader of the party because I think that he has immense strengths in terms of his integrity, his judgment and his passion for politics that haven’t yet been put across.’

Oates advised Simon Hughes in the party’s leadership battle last year. He downplayed this, saying: ‘I gave some advice to Simon but wasn’t formally on his campaign team.’

Oates will oversee a 14-strong media team and a further 14 policy and research staff.

He will report to party CEO Lord Rennard and replaces David Norman, who resigned last year (PRWeek, 26 Oct 2006).

Oates joined Bell Pottinger Public Affairs in 2004, having previously been an associate at the public relations firm of former Prince of Wales press secretary Mark Bolland.

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