Tony Pilch will join the agency in December, taking the title senior vice-president. He was a member of Gordon Brown’s 2005 general election strategy team and has also worked at Brownite think-tank the Smith Institute, where he co-authored pamphlets with Balls, Brown’s closest political ally and now schools secretary.
Pilch’s appointment comes just weeks after PRWeek revealed that The Sunday Times political editor David Cracknell is to leave the broadsheet in January to become chairman of FD-LLM (PRWeek, 2 November).
The two hires indicate that City firm FD is making a concerted effort to rebuild its lobbying arm after losing a number of key staff earlier this year.
It is understood that Pilch turned down offers from two other well-known public affairs agencies to join FD-LLM. His appointment will be viewed as a coup for the agency as Brownites are currently in short supply in public affairs.
Dozens of special advisers with strong Blairite credentials have made the switch in the past few months, but the only Brown aide of note to join a public affairs agency is Nicola Murphy. A former Treasury special adviser, she turned down a host of offers to join Hanover as an associate director (PRWeek, 14 September).
However, just days after she joined Hanover, Murphy found herself at the centre of a ‘cash for access’ story. Brown’s team immediately sought to minimise the damage to the PM by briefing that Murphy had not been close to Brown in the first place.
Pilch will hope he does not suffer the same fate. He was at the Prime Minister’s strategy unit as a policy adviser for two years from 2001 before serving at the Smith Institute as a research fellow from 2003-07. Since then, he has had spells as a special adviser at the Foreign Office and now-defunct Department for Trade and Industry.
At FD-LLM, he will report to MD Fiona Mason.