We are now approaching the last few weeks of the merger campaign, being mounted by the ICAEW.
As I have noted in an earlier post, the ICAEW are hosting a series of roadshows and mounting a publicity campaign; under the direction of their PR firm Media Strategy (perversely enough paid for by us, the membership), brought in to swing the vote of the membership in the favour of the ICAEW.
Unfortunately, those of us who oppose the merger do not have the resources to be able to afford to hire Media Strategy (Media Strategy list the ICAEW as a client); even though we will, via our subscriptions, be paying for Media Strategy's involvement.
I am therefore very grateful to an anonymous visitor to this site who has drawn my attention to the following Early Day Motion (EDM), filed on the 13th of July 2005, by Paul Flynn MP.
The EDM (number 581) concerns the activities of Media Strategy, and urges:
"..all Right honourable and honourable Members to have no contact with the clients of Media Strategy until this matter is resolved; and believes that it is inappropriate for public sector organisations such as the Audit Commission, the Police Federation, Southwark Council, Westminster City Council, The Royal Parks, The Environment Agency and others to retain the services of a company that behaves in this manner.."
It seems that Media Strategy breached the Code of Practice of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (Lord O'Neill had joined their advisory board) and, as a consequence, resigned its membership of that body rather than face an investigation.
The Association of Professional Political Consultants issued a public statement about the affair, on the 11th of July 2005.
Here is an extract:
"..It was agreed by the APPC Management Committee at its meeting on 8th July that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to show that Media Strategy had breached Clause 8 of the APPC Code of Conduct by employing Lord O'Neill to justify referring the issue to our Professional Practices Panel. Media Strategy's early resignation from the APPC means that this course of action is not open to the Association (resignation is not, of course, permitted after a complaint has been referred to the Panel).
The APPC Management Committee was also disappointed by Media Strategy's readiness and happiness to resign from the APPC and therefore its' Code of Conduct. The Committee felt that Media Strategy had dismissed the seriousness of the complaints made against them, and the importance of the Code of Conduct to the industry as a whole. This is unwelcome and inconsistent with the commitment and compliance of APPC member companies to the Code of Conduct and its underlying principles. The Committee felt it inappropriate for any member company to treat membership of the APPC in a similar vein whereby a member would rather resign than sort out the problem or comply with the Code..."
The association of the ICAEW with a body whose reputation is being questioned in this way, does our brand value and image no good whatsoever; it also brings into question the judgement of the ICAEW, in using the services of Media Strategy.
The ICAEW continue to mishandle the merger issue, and their judgement is questionable.
Please vote against the merger.
I reproduce the full text of the EDM below:
ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL POLITICAL CONSULTANTS AND MEDIA STRATEGY
That this House notes with profound concern that the public affairs consultancy Media Strategy, which represents a wide range of public sector and commercial organisations, has been forced to resign its membership of the Association of Professional Political Consultants after a flagrant breach of the Association's Code of Practice; further notes that the breach involved a contravention of Clause 8 of the Code, which prevents the employment of any honourable Member or Peer, or the payment of money or other awards to such honourable Members; is shocked that Media Strategy's response to the investigation of this complaint was to resign from the Association to prevent a formal inquiry rather than to put its house in order; is appalled at the flippant comment of the Media Strategy Director, Charles Lewington, that although Lord O'Neill was indeed to be paid for services to the agency 'he won't be doing much given the money'; welcomes the statement by the Association that the appointment compromised the profession's integrity; urges all Right honourable and honourable Members to have no contact with the clients of Media Strategy until this matter is resolved; and believes that it is inappropriate for public sector organisations such as the Audit Commission, the Police Federation, Southwark Council, Westminster City Council, The Royal Parks, The Environment Agency and others to retain the services of a company that behaves in this manner.
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