A LOBBYING firm has been criticised by its industry body for appointing a sitting peer to its consulting panel.

Charlotte Street Partners announced last week that it was appointing Ian Duncan, Lord Duncan of Springbank, as a consulting partner.

Now the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), a trade body for the communications sector, has criticised the appointment and urged the firm to rethink its decision.

It argues that a lawmaker should not also be a lobbyist, and that the decision brings the House of Lords into disrepute.

Liam Herbert MPRCA, PRCA Public Affairs Committee Chairman said: “It is simply wrong for lobbying firms to employ members of the House of Lords, and unthinkable that the Deputy Speaker of the Lords himself would think it appropriate to accept such a job.

“The PRCA Public Affairs Code is crystal clear - you cannot be a legislator and a lobbyist. You have to pick one or the other”.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, PRCA Director General added: “While I am aware that Charlotte Street Partners has chosen not to be covered by any Code of Conduct, I would nonetheless urge them to do the ethical thing, and to rethink this incredibly unwise appointment, which brings the House of Lords into disrepute.”

Charlotte Street Partners, which appears on the Government’s statutory Lobbying Register, was set up by economist and former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, and Malcolm Robertson, son of Labour peer George Robertson.

It does not declare an adherence to the PRCA code of conduct.

The appointment of Lord Duncan comes after Ruth Davidson, current Scottish Conservatives Holyrood group leader, was forced to turn down a job at PR firm Tulchan Communications due to the public backlash about the appointment.

Ms Davidson was set to become a senior adviser at the lobbying firm, paid £50,000 a year for 24 days’ work, but after it was announced in late 2019, she u-turned on the decision.

Former Conservative MEP Lord Duncan is the current deputy Lords Speaker, and a former government minister. He received a life peerage in 2017, after resigning as an MEP, and has served as Parliamentary under secretary for the Wales and Scotland Office, and as a minister for climate change.

A spokesperson for Charlotte Street Partners said: "Ian's appointment has been approved by the UK government’s advisory committee on business appointments (ACOBA). 

"His work for us, as a strategic consultancy, will focus on analysis and advice relating to the European Union, and on environmental matters.

"This is fully compliant with ACOBA guidance, which makes clear that he is not permitted to undertake any lobbying, which was never the intention."