Lobbying firm Morgan Allen Moore has hit out at the Association of Professional Political Consultants' (APPC) 'unfair and unworkable' process for dealing with agencies accused of wrongdoing.
This week, the agency was celebrating after forcing an individual working with right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes to drop an 'unsubstantiated' claim that the agency had breached the APPC code of conduct.
Morgan Allen Moore said the episode demonstrated that the APPC was too ready to listen to complaints that did not stack up and questioned the value of having other agencies look into such complaints.
Director Richard Moore said: 'This is a total vindication of us and will hopefully lead to a more balanced, meaningful complaints procedure being put in place by the APPC. The current process, where anyone can lodge an unsubstantiated complaint that is initially considered by your direct competitors, is clearly both unfair and unworkable. In the end, we were forced to bypass the APPC and take the matter into our own hands with a High Court action for defamation.'
But APPC chair Robbie MacDuff said the saga was still not over as the matter was now in the hands of the APPC's Professional Practices Panel. He added that a review of the complaints procedure was already under way and it was hoped that a new draft procedure could be drawn up by the next members' meeting on 8 December.
The complaint against Morgan Allen Moore was lodged by an individual named James Davenport, a former agency employee who has links with the Conservatives.
The complaint focused on agency chairman Steve Morgan's donation to Peter Hain's Labour deputy leadership campaign in 2007 and the use of Morgan Allen Moore offices by the campaign.
PRWeek understands that Guido Fawkes aided Davenport in pushing the complaint through.
This week, Davenport capitulated follow a long-running legal battle. A letter sent to the APPC by Davenport and seen by PRWeek states: 'I have today formally withdrawn my complaint to the APPC regarding Morgan Allen Moore without reservation. This announcement brings to an end all actions between Morgan Allen Moore and myself.'