Public gesture: Parsley made his feelings clear
A row between PR agency Freud Communications and the Sunday Express led to business editor David Parsley being sent 12 cases of champagne worth £2,000.
Parsley, a teetotaller, was unimpressed with the attempted payoff and returned the “gift” in a public gesture of disgust at a press conference organised by Matthew Freud.
It is understood that the row started when the Sunday Express business desk got wind of Carphone Warehouse’s plan to launch a free calls service between its TalkTalk landline customers.
The story was rebuffed by Freud, who is understood to have told Express journalists they were “barking up the wrong tree”.
Parsley eventually agreed to drop the story and so was outraged when he saw it appear in rival papers that Sunday. He phoned Freud to make his feelings known on Monday morning. That afternoon 12 cases of MoÃ«t & Chandon champagne arrived at his home address and a further two cases of Lanson champagne were sent to reporter Mark Kleinman.
Parsley, helped by other members of the Sunday Express team, returned the unwanted gifts in front of the rest of Fleet Street at the official launch of Carphone Warehouse’s new service in Covent Garden on Thursday. The note attached – in foot-high letters – read, “Thanks but no thanks Matthew”.
One onlooker said: “Freud looked like thunder. He wasn’t a very happy bunny.”
Parsley said of the champagne gift: “Rather than appeasing me, it only served to make matters worse.”
However, he added: “After this I consider Matthew Freud and me to be quits.
“It was a PR stunt aimed at the so-called PR supremo.
We did it deliberately before the event had got under way because our target was not Carphone Warehouse but its representative Matthew Freud.”
Parsley said he had asked Freud Communications to pass the champagne to charity the Prince’s Trust.
A spokesman for Freud Communications said: “We’ve always had a good working relationship with the Sunday Express and I hope that relationship will continue.”
By Dominic Ponsford