Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party is considering using a PR agency
to fill the gap left by the departure of two of the most senior people
from its press office.
The party, which is believed to be devoting pounds 20 million to pre-
election marketing, is known to have approached a number of agencies
during the last few weeks.
It is thought the party was looking for an agency to provide short-term
PR support, or to second a member of staff in-house, while it searches
for a new head of communications.
The move has been forced upon it by the loss of several people from its
press office including chief press officer Ian Beaumont, a former press
officer with 10 Downing Street and the Metropolitan Police, who left the
party at the end of September, just six weeks after he was recruited.
Michael Gunton, who headed up the party’s regional press team, left
shortly before Beaumont, amid rumours of acrimony between himself and
Patrick Robertson, Goldsmith’s personal PR adviser.
Gunton, ex-Conservative Party Central Office head of news and
parliamentary liaison, had preceded Beaumont as chief press officer but
stepped down after six months due to a heart attack. He is now preparing
to launch a media services company.
The search for replacements follows the launch in mid-October of the
party’s first national newspaper advertising campaign, emphasising the
‘powerlessness’ of UK politicians.