Bell Pottinger boss defends Tory links

Bell Pottinger supremo Lord Bell has insisted the agency's relationship with the Conservative Party has not been affected by a so-called 'cash-for-access' story last week.

‘Careful’: Are Cameron’s Tories becoming harder to lobby?
‘Careful’: Are Cameron’s Tories becoming harder to lobby?

The Guardian reported Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle had sent out a letter to clients saying: ‘I think there is a real opportunity for you to help the Tory party to write those sections of the election manifesto that are important for you.’

The story said the Conservatives had res­ponded ‘angrily’ to news of the letter.

One Tory aide with close links to leader David Cameron, told PRWeek the inc­ident was ‘a bit of an embarrassment’. Meanwhile rival public affairs bosses speculated that the revelation might damage Bell Pottinger’s relations with the Tories.

One said: ‘It was getting harder and harder to lobby the Tories bef­ore this. If I was a member of the shadow cabinet, I would want to be very careful about which lobbyists I was speaking to right now.’

But speaking this week, Lord Bell said he had met a number of senior Tories since The Guardian’s report and that the issue had not come up in any of his meetings.

 ‘It has had no effect whatsoever,’ he said. Bell defended the content of Bingle’s letter but said the specific reference to the election manifesto was ‘unfortunate’.

Bell Pottinger Public Aff­airs’ top Tory consultants inc­lude Jonathan Caine, former assistant director of the Conservative Research Department (PRWeek, 21 February 2007).

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