APPC to meet over PPS crisis

The body responsible for upholding ethical standards in public affairs has called an emergency meeting to discuss what action to take over a tide of damaging newspaper allegations about the agency PPS Group.

Morris: has called an emergency meeting
Morris: has called an emergency meeting

Gill Morris, chairperson of the Association of Professional Political Consultants, has summoned its management committee to discuss the allegations, which emerged on Monday.

The Evening Standard and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme alleged that the property and development lobbyist, which is a member of the APPC, used ‘trickery, deceit and manipulation’ to secure planning permission for certain developments. If the claims are true, they would put the agency in severe breach of the APPC’s code of conduct.

Morris confirmed a one-off meeting would take place today (Friday), but declined to comment further.

Chris Whitehouse, MD of The Whitehouse Consultancy and an APPC member, said: ‘Allegations of this kind do not reflect well either on the individual company or profession.’ He called on the APPC to deal with the matter ‘speedily’.

Clients, including Sainsbury’s and Swindon Borough Council, have stood by the embattled ­agency.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘The allegations made in the Evening Stan­dard are in no way related to Sainsbury’s or any work ­undertaken on its behalf.’

Swindon Borough Council media relations manager Richard Freeman said: ‘PPS should be innocent until pro­ven guilty. We have been perfectly satisfied with its work.’

In a statement, the PPS Group, which is employed by high-profile house-builders, transport groups and retailers, said: ‘The article makes a number of statements about PPS practices that are totally unfounded, and which PPS utterly refutes. PPS has not and would never forge letters, bug meetings or infiltrate campaign groups.’PPS has called in law firm Carter-Ruck to fight its corner.

The Evening Standard told PRWeek that two of its reporters continue to investigate PPS’ client work.

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