Public affairs: Heavyweight panel to probe Morgan complaint

The Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) is turning up the heat on lobbying firm Morgan Allen Moore by passing a complaint about the agency on to its Professional Practice Panel for the first time in a decade.

The panel will comprise senior figures who are in the process of being appointed. It was previously called on in 1998 to investigate agencies embroiled in the 'Drapergate' lobbying scandal.

This time, the APPC is looking into claims that agency chairman Steve Morgan breached its code of conduct while working on Peter Hain's Labour deputy leadership campaign.

The APPC recently said such activity 'did not necessarily constitute a breach' and announced it would 'write to the complainant to ask for more specific information' (PRWeek, 1 February).

In a statement this week, the APPC said: 'The management committee (has) agreed that there might be reason to conclude there was a cause for complaint and that, for the issue to be addressed properly... the matter should be referred to the APPC's Professional Practices Panel.

'The management committee wishes to stress that, in taking this action, it is not expressing a view on the substantive merit or otherwise of the complaint and did not reach a conclusion on whether Morgan Allen Moore has breached the code, which will be for the panel to decide.'

Morgan Allen Moore strongly denies any wrongdoing. It is understood the complaint was made by a former employee with links to the Conservatives.

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