When the soon to be defunct UK Film Council first realised that it was under threat from Hunt and Vaizey The Times reported that they had brought in spinmeisters Portland PR. The luvvies denied that they were using £60,000 of taxpayers’ money to have lobbyists pressure the government to change their mind about the decision to scrap the organisation.Vaizey said in reply to a Parliamentary Question this week:
“The Film Council has said that the brief was confined to media monitoring and collating stories and comments, drafting internal and external communications, and the handling of international media and press inquiries. “
However as members of the lobbying regulator APPC, Portland are required to officially declare all clients they have done public affairs (“PA”)work but do not for public relations. In the latest APPC register, Portland have very clearly declared their contract with the UK Film Council as “PA Consultancy”, not public relations. It looks like someone has been telling Vaizey porkies.
Not only does this confirm the original Times story which was flatly denied, it also breaks a swathe of government regulations, namely that quangos “must not use public funds to employ external public affairs or other consultants to lobby Parliament or Government with the principle aim of altering government policy or to obtain increased funding.” Busted.
The case for scrapping was that the organisation was too big and wasted too much money on six-figure salaries. Neatly illustrated in their press release reacting to today’s decision – it contained three different press officers’ contact details.