Shandwick has ended its relationship with David Mellor MP after two
years, ahead of a crucial House of Commons vote on the implementation of
the Nolan report.
Shandwick decided not to renew its contract with Mellor at the end of
October. Managing director of Shandwick UK Colin Trusler said he wanted
to ‘stand clear’ of the current debate over links between MPs and multi-
client consultancies - which Nolan has recommended should be banned. He
said Mellor would still advise the agency on an ad hoc basis.
The Select Committee on Standards in Public Life, whose report on the
practical implementation of Nolan is due to be debated in the Commons on
Monday, has in fact rejected a complete ban on multi-client
consultancies. Instead it has opted for a ban on paid advocacy work for
any client, leaving MPs free to provide advice.
Whatever the result of the vote, it appears many PR firms have already
cut their links with MPs.
Fleishman-Hillard ended its arrangement with Charles Hendry MP at the
beginning of August, though Hendry continues to provide advice on an ad
hoc basis. Financial PR firm Gavin Anderson parted company with its MP,
Nigel Forman, in June also on ‘commercial grounds’.
Meanwhile Taskforce Communications founders Patrick Robertson and Gerald
Howarth MP cited Nolan as the reason for their decision to wind up the
company in September. ‘We believe Nolan will be adopted in large part,
and felt it was prudent to wind up the business,’ said Robertson, who
now trades as Robertson and Associates.
Other agencies, however, are holding fire until after the crucial Nolan
Hill and Knowlton’s head of public affairs Edward Bickham said the
agency saw no reason to change its relationship with retained consultant
Michael Jopling MP - due to retire at the next election - ‘until such
time as the House of Commons makes up its mind that different rules
Lowe Bell Communications and The Communication Group have also adopted a
‘wait and see’ approach.
Meanwhile, the House of Lords has been looking at links between peers
and outside interests. The Griffiths Committee’s report, which includes
the suggestion that a register of interests be set up for the Lords, was
due to be debated on Wednesday night.