APPC to investigate lobbying breaches

Edelman's lobbying practice is to tighten up its procedures for registering clients in the wake of damaging revelations that rocked the agency on the eve of the Labour Party conference.

Morris: the APPC chair is looking into media stories
Morris: the APPC chair is looking into media stories

The agency was exposed in the Sunday Times for failing to disclose its relationship with training company Pelcombe. This is a breach of the lobbyists’ code of conduct and the agency faces an investigation by the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC).

Michael Burrell, Edelman Europe vice-president, adm­itted the agency was in the wrong. ‘We should have listed Pelcombe as a client in the APPC register for the relevant period,’ he said. ‘Our failure to do so is inexcusable and we have apologised to APPC chairman Gill Morris for the omission, which reflects a fault in our procedures.’

Edelman has pledged to routinely check invoices to ensure that all clients have been reported to the APPC. This will act as a safety net to ensure the lobbyists have reported all of their clients.

PRWeek understands that an internal investigation has already pinned the blame on a director who left the agency earlier this year.

Separately... The Observer reported that Burson-Marsteller had failed to register Microsoft as a client of its lobbying practice, despite a director sending out an email on the company’s behalf – reportedly urging businesses to raise the issue of Google’s dominance of search engines with politicians, regulators and the media.

The issue centres around Google’s proposed acquisition of internet advertising firm Double-Click. B-M’s work involved the setting up of an organisation called Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces.

B-M chief executive Jonathan Jordan said the agency was right not to register the client because the work it had und­ertaken was ‘not lobbying work as such’.

APPC chair Gill Morris said: ‘The APPC will be looking into both matters.’

In a third development, Hanover Communications MD Charles Lewington is understood to be taking legal action against the Sunday Telegraph over a ‘cash for access’ story which had lobbyists tongues wagging throughout the Labour Party conference.

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