PR Week has hit back at accusations that it is being ‘used’by Downing Street communications staff to leak stories about a power struggle within Number 10.
The Haymarket trade weekly has found itself in the headlines over the past month, after it published a series of exclusives on changes to Gordon Brown’s PR operation.
Lobby journalists claim the leaks to the title have caused rifts within Number 10. Members of new chief of strategy Stephen Carter’s team have been blamed in a number of press reports for leaking details of his proposals for an overhaul.
Peter Riddell, writing in The Times, quoted Downing Street insiders warning against PR Week becoming ‘the new house journal of Number 10″. The Guardian said that people within Carter’s team had been warned against talking to the magazine.
The title’s editor, Danny Rodgers, said: ‘Obviously PR Week is well connected in the political arena because public affairs and politics have always been a big part of the PR industry. But I rather resent the implication that Number 10 is using PR Week.
‘What we have done is a series of very interesting strong stories on the communications set-up there. We have some high-level contacts within that sphere. But I quite resent the implication that anyone is using us.”
The PR Week run of stories, written by news editor David Singleton and reporter Clare O’Connor, began in its 7 March issue with news of a communications rejig at Number 10 and the appointment of former Which? director of communications Nick Stace to a strategic communications adviser role.
The follow-up news feature analysing the communications set-up in Number 10 gave prominence to Carter but relegated director of political strategy Spencer Livermore to the margins. Livermore subsequently resigned.
The magazine then revealed that Carter was looking for a new speech writer ahead of the PMs Scottish conference speech last month, a story that was picked up by the nationals.