Agency criticised

Charlotte St Partners urged to rethink ‘unwise’ peer hire

Andrew Wilson and Lord Duncan

Charlotte Street Partners, the Edinburgh and London communications company, has been urged to rethink its appointment of the House of Lords deputy speaker as an adviser.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has described the hiring of Lord Duncan of Springbank as a consulting partner as unwise and unethical and claims it brings the House of Lords into disrepute.

Another public affairs association has responded quickly to the appointment by banning the agency from membership

Charlotte Street Partners is run by Andrew Wilson, the SNP strategic adviser, and Malcolm Robertson, whose father Lord Robertson is a former Scottish Secretary and Secretary General of NATO.

The agency announced Lord Duncan’s appointment this week alongside that of Katie Armour, former press officer for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Charlotte Street Partners said Lord Duncan will provide insight and advice to clients, principally on engagement with the European Union and across a number of industry sectors.

He is a former UK government minister currently serving as deputy speaker of the House of Lords and the agency said his appointment is “in compliance with the advice received from the UK government’s advisory committee on business appointments (ACOBA).”

However, the PRCA, which is the world’s largest professional PR body and works to “champion – and enforce – professional standards”, said the agency should “do the ethical thing”.

It said Charlotte Street Partners appears on the Government’s statutory Lobbying Register, and is in the minority of lobbying firms that do not declare adherence to a Code of Conduct.

Liam Herbert, PRCA public affairs committee chairman, said: “It is simply wrong for lobbying firms to employ members of the House of Lords, and unthinkable that the Deputy Speaker of the Lords himself would think it appropriate to accept such a job.

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