NEWS: Bell waits in the wings as staff desert Greer

Senior executives at Ian Greer Associates are negotiating a move to Sir Tim Bell’s Lowe Bell Communications, as part of a mass exodus from the lobbying firm following the collapse of its libel case against the Guardian and further allegations about its role in the ‘cash-for- questions’ affair.

Senior executives at Ian Greer Associates are negotiating a move to Sir

Tim Bell’s Lowe Bell Communications, as part of a mass exodus from the

lobbying firm following the collapse of its libel case against the

Guardian and further allegations about its role in the ‘cash-for-

questions’ affair.



The talks have been led by Jeremy Sweeney and IGA director Perry Miller.

Sweeney has resigned as UK managing director of IGA and is currently

working out his notice.



Bell confirmed he was in negotiations with ‘a handful’ of people from

IGA. He told PR Week: ‘I am talking to a group of people within IGA

about whether they would like to come and work with us and bring their

clients with them, if they want to come. If the package makes sense I’ll

go along with it. I am not buying IGA nor any part of it.’



If the deal succeeds, Sweeney and Miller will join a flood of IGA staff

who have now quit the firm. Andrew Smith, group managing director,

resigned last week before a board meeting at which Ian Greer announced

he would step down as chairman of the company and offered to hand

control to the remaining directors. Greer, however, withheld the news of

Smith’s resignat-ion until after the meeting. This proved to be the

final straw for Robbie MacDuff, managing director of IGA’s Scottish

office, who resigned on Sunday, along with IGA UK director Jonathan

Hopkins, Brad Staples, MD of IGA Europe in Brussels, and two of his

account directors, Liam McArthur and Edward Walsh.



Staples and his colleagues are understood to be exploring several

options for their future. Among others they are known to have had talks

with Brussels-based lobbying firm European Strategy - sister-company to

Westminster Strategy as well as Paul Adamson, of Adamson Associates.



Meanwhile, IGA’s client base also appears to be crumbling. PowerGen,

which used IGA for parliamentary research and lobbying, is believed to

have advised the company, it will not be reappointed after its contract

expires later this month.



Another high profile client, the Water Services Association, has given

notice to IGA Europe, which it used for monitoring in Brussels. A WSA

spokesman said Monday’s decision was sparked by the loss of ‘key

personnel’.



Calor Gas is also ending its association with IGA, although PR manager

Andrew Ford said the move is part of a pre-planned rationalisation of

its agencies.



One of the agency’s most recent high-profile clients, the National Union

of Teachers, which signed IGA in May is also reviewing the relationship.



Other clients, including Taylor Woodrow and recently merged automotive

and aerospace company Lucas Varity, have indicated that they are

watching how events unfold.



Another company, Thames Water said its account with IGA was due for

renewal in the next few weeks but would not comment on whether the

ongoing furore would affect its decision.



IGA is making no public comment on the situation. Crisis media

consultant John Stonborough, who had been called in by IGA, ceased

working for the agency on Friday. Stonborough said he had told the

agency his skills ‘were not relevant to the situation which has

developed’.



Analysis p9, Feature p12



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