Haringey Council has concealed the identity of the media consultants used to provide PR advice during the Baby P tragedy. In a censored answer to a question from Liberal Democrat Cllr David Winskill to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny ‘watchdog’ committee, the Council confirmed that £19,000 was spent on PR/Media advice to the Council. It came from three sources and included media training for key spokespeople. However, the reply declared that the consultants’ names to be “Exempt”, i.e. they must not be revealed.
Further inquiries by Liberal Democrats as to why the identity of media consultants were hidden has forced the Council to reveal that the restriction was due to solicitors for one media company expressing concern that revealing their client’s identity would lead to “adverse publicity and personal distress to their client.”
Haringey Council argues that the public interest is served by not revealing the consultants names:
“… because the Council corporately has a legitimate interest in receiving professional media and public relations advice and, in an environment of very adverse and indiscriminate press comment, this can only be ensured if the identities of consultants are kept out of the public domain.”
Liberal Democrats have demanded further information from the Council regarding their media costs during the Baby P tragedy.
Cllr David Winskill says:
“It is a measure of how toxic Haringey Council has become: professional companies are happy to get the business, send in an invoice and get the dosh from local taxpayers but don’t want any one to know who they’re working for.
“It is legitimate for a council to use PR to help present information in a clear and transparent way but this exercise reeks of political spin, obfuscation and has shattered Haringey’s already shaky reputation.
“I want to get to the bottom of this and make sure that ratepayers are not landed with the bill for Haringey Labour trying to hang on to power.”
Cllr Winskill has submitted a list of twenty further questions on this matter.