Games body needs ethical code

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has moved to clarify its position regarding codes of conduct in the public affairs industry.

Grogan: urging Coe to take action
Grogan: urging Coe to take action

The organisation, headed by Lord Coe, is being urged to stop using agencies that refuse to adhere to industry-wide ethical codes. Labour MP John Grogan has called on Coe to follow the lead of London Mayor Ken Livingstone (PRWeek, 24 August).

This week, Locog’s director of government relations Nicky Hughes set out the body’s stance – nearly two months after it emerged that Locog is on the hunt for a public affairs consultancy.

She said: ‘An ethical code of practice is a key component of our criteria – we wouldn’t go forward with agencies that don’t have an ethical code in place.’

Hughes would not say whether an independent code – such as that currently being drawn up by Bell Pottinger – would suffice. But she did reveal that APPC membership was one of a number of factors considered by the body when it recently drew up a shortlist of agencies.

‘We specifically asked if companies were APPC members,’ she said. ‘This res­ult was weighted accordingly among a range of other equally important criteria. Competition was very tight and only those at the top end of the scale went forward.’

It is understood that Locog has not shortlisted Bell Pottinger Public Affairs. The agency – along with DLA Piper and Luther Pendragon – is one of a number that has not signed up to either the APPC or PRCA codes, which require client disclosure. However, all of its consultants are said to be members of the CIPR.

Lord Bell, chair of Chime Communications, said: ‘It would appear that Locog thinks membership of the APPC is superior to membership of the CIPR.’

Grogan had yet to hear from Coe as PRWeek went to press. The MP said both Locog and the Mayor’s office had a responsibility to turn away agencies that were not transparent about their clients.

‘I do think that those in charge of tendering large or prestigious public affairs contracts have a big role to play in encouraging transparency and openness in business,’ he said.

‘The risk of losing contracts if companies do not meet the ethical industry standard is the shot in the arm that self-regulation needs.’

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