Ian Greer Associates has called in crisis media specialist John
Stonborough to handle the press barrage that has followed its libel
trial climb-down in the ‘cash for questions’ affair.
Stonborough was originally hired by IGA, for one month, a fortnight ago
to handle media relations during the planned court case. However, when
the case was abandoned on Monday night, Stonborough’s brief switched to
handling the resulting furore.
Stonborough, who estimates that IGA received several hundred related
calls a day earlier this week, said his assignment was ‘a very normal
media-type problem where the orthodox rules still apply’.
‘I think our strategy, of being open and responsive to the media, is
working. We have got absolutely nothing to hide,’ he said.
Both Greer and his erstwhile co-plaintiff, the former Tory minister Neil
Hamilton MP, are still vigorously protesting their innocence despite
further allegations in the Guardian this week.
However, Stonbrough said he had advised Ian Greer against appearing on
Tuesday’s Newsnight programme with Hamilton and Guardian editor Alan
Rusbridger, adding: ‘We are not in the business of adding to the media
Andrew Gifford, chairman of the Association of Professional Political
Consultants, said a discussion on whether the body should further
investigate the affair was likely to be a major topic at its next
But in any case IGA’s membership of the two-year-old association, which
bans financial links with MPs, was unlikely to be called into question,
according to Gifford. He said this was because the allegations concerned
events prior to the formation of the APPC and its rules.
This week’s events could herald the first public hearing of a case by
the Commons Privileges and Standards Committee, which was established
following the Nolan report into standards in public life.
The committee will decide whether to act on receiving a report from Sir
Gordon Downey, the Parliamentary ombudsman. Several commentators have
called for an extension of Sir Gordon’s powers this week: he is
currently able to initiate inquiries, after receiving complaints from
Members of Parliament and the public, but cannot call for papers or