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Is there a growing ethics issue problem at the heart of UK lobbying? A PRmoment podcast with Francis Ingham, Director General of the PRCA

On this week's show, I'm chatting to Francis Ingham, Director General of the PRCA about what the PRCA describes as “an ethical divide (that) has emerged between those willing to embrace ethics and professional standards, and those unwilling to adopt such values.”

A PRCA spokesperson has said “almost half (of lobbyists) are happy to be unregulated and unaccountable. And within this group are some enormously influential companies.”

To put this spat into more context The PRCA’s analysis of lobbying company entries published by the Government’s Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL) showed that the number declaring that they followed no code of conduct increased by 28 per cent between 2019 and 2020.

Of the 166 entries by agencies on the ORCL register 51 per cent adhered to the PRCA’s Public Affairs Code, 39 per cent followed no code; seven per cent followed the CIPR’s code, and two per cent adhered to their own code.

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Here’s a summary of what Francis and I discussed:

2 mins Why have some very large companies made the decision not to adhere to any lobbying code of conduct?

4 mins What is ORCL and why did the government establish it?

5 mins Why ORCL is a register to create transparency in lobbying, on its own it is not a code of conduct.

6 mins Why has the number of agencies declaring no code increased in the last 12 months?

7 mins By signing up to the Public Affairs Code - what are agencies signing up to?

7.30 mins Can lobbying firms join the PRCA’s Public Affairs Code without being members of the PRCA?

9 mins How the majority of consultancies not signed up to The Public Affairs Code are not PR firms - they are lawyers, accountancies and management consultants.

11 mins What needs to happen for all lobbying firms to join a self-regulatory code of conduct?

15 mins Is the PRCA suffering from a Bell Pottinger hangover here? Are some of these firms not joining the PRCA because they saw what happened with Bell Pottinger and they don’t want to take the risk?

16 mins Why are in-house lobbyists not regulated, only their agency peers?

19 mins What needs to happen to maintain transparency and accountability in the lobbying sector.

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