Charlotte Street Partners

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Charlotte Street Partners is a strategy and communications consultancy based in London and Edinburgh. It was launched in January 2014.

Political schmoozing

As well as being very well connected to Scottish politics, Charlotte Street Partners also enjoys social relationships with the political class in Holyrood. Hospitality recently provided by the firm includes:

  • Alex Salmond attended a reception hosted by Charlotte Street Partners on 19 June 2014.[1] It is not known who else attended, including any of the firm's clients.
  • Charlotte Street Partners organised a 'Dinner ‘In Conversation’ with Nicola Sturgeon' in January 2015[2]
  • Dinner with Alexander Anderson special adviser to the Scottish government for 'Infrastructure, Investment and the Cities and for Rural Affairs, Food & Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform'. The dinner with Charlotte Street Partners, which was registered in March 2015, took place at Contini Restorante on George Street in Edinburgh.
  • It also treated Malcolm Fleming, senior special adviser to the Scottish government for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism and for Fair Work, Skills & Training, to dinner at the 'Press & Journal' Energy Awards in Aberdeen (also registered in March 2015).
  • Colin McAllister, Head of Policy and Special Adviser to Nicola Sturgeon also had dinner on Charlotte Street Partners (in partnership with Edinburgh Airport). The occasion was a speech by Michael O'Leary on 'Ryanair's New Direction' at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh (registered October 2014).[3]
  • Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands also met with Malcolm Robertson of Charlotte Street Partners on 23 March 2015.[4]

Spinning for business

In 2015, Charlotte Street Partners' Chris Deerin contributed to a publication on the topic of 'The Good Corporation and its role in modern society' sponsored by SSE and with a contribution from Tim Montgomery. Deerin wrote in a piece entitled: 'Profit and virtue: Refashioning the contract between society and business':

'The simple fact is that the contract between capital and society that sustained for the latter part of the 20th century and into the early years of the 21st has been destroyed... how do we refashion that contract?
There is talk of a new ‘double bottom- line’: profit and virtue. What is this? Building public trust in your wider intentions, deeply rooting yourself in the community around you, looking after and listening to your employees, putting in place responsible remuneration structures, being a good corporate citizen not to tick a box but because it is in everyone’s interests that you be one, paying your fair share of taxes. In this view, companies are cultural entities as well as economic ones. The way they behave sets a tone, reveals their true priorities and motivations, speaks to the nature of our wider society and the kind of people we are and want to be. In return, the good company seeks public permission to create wealth, make healthy profits and grow.

He goes on to talk about SSE's efforts to address this challenge. He also quotes Adam Smith, who 'while applauding commerce for its contribution to prosperity, justice and freedom, also worried about the moral character of merchants and manufacturers, and what could be done to keep them in line.'

[Smith's] appeal to our shared humanity, should form the basis of how we reconstruct our liberal capitalist system, of how we build the good society. The Good Corporation must, surely, be at its heart,' he concluded.[5]

Scottish lobbying guide

Frackrig larger.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

In October 2015 a guide published by Spinwatch, Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society identified Charlotte Street Partners as one of the most established lobbying firms in Edinburgh, with links to 'king of spin' Kevin Pringle, the former Scottish National Party (SNP) chief spin doctor and Alex Salmond's top adviser - 'a man with a decent contacts book'. [6]

Holyrood exposed: a guide to lobbying in Scotland flags the firm's 'high-level schmoozing' of politicians, including dinners arranged with SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, special adviser Malcolm Fleming and head of government policy Colin McAllister. Its board boasts some familiar names: Angus Grossart, who is chair of the government's infrastructure investment body and former vice chair of RBS, and former head of communications at RBS Andrew Wilson, who is also a former SNP MSP. It also raised serious questions as to who actually benefits from the firm's extensive contact book, given its non-disclosure of lobbying clients.[7]

Charlotte Street is also involved in the campaign to bring fracking to Scotland, working on behalf of Cluff Natural Resources (CNS), whose founder, Algy Cluff, has warned of the deleterious economic impact of the Scottish government's ban on fracking. Cluff has even threatened to withdraw his investments in underground coal gasification. This was all coordinated with Charlotte Street Partners dinners with Nicola Sturgeon's infrastructure and energy advisers at Contini Ristorante, although what exactly was discussed is not known. [8]

In May 2015 the lobbying firm approached members of Falkirk Council on behalf of CNS, which was holding public exhibitions about plans for underground coal gasification, and had invited council members to discuss these plans. It was advised however that discussions were held ‘in a council facility, supported by council officers’. [9]

Services

According to its website, Charlotte Street offers:

  • financial communications
  • political and regulatory affairs
  • crisis communications
  • governance
  • pntegrated corporate communications strategies.[10]

People

Board

Staff

Clients

Charlotte Street do not currently (as of July 2015) declare their clients or staff on the registers of the Association of Professional Political Consultants, Public Relations Consultants Association, UK Public Affairs Council or the Government's new Register of Consultant Lobbyists.

  • UK Green Investment Bank; Charlotte Street Partners was paid £90,000 over July and August 2014[19]
  • FirstGroup plc - in July 2014 Charlotte Street issued a press release of a study on the tourism industry in Scotland on behalf of First Group.[20]
  • Cluff Natural Resources, cited on a May 2015 press release[21]
  • Abellio (rail, bus and tram operator), cited on a June 2015 press release.
  • Havelock Europa; Charlotte Street provide financial PR services to Havelock Europa.

Register of consultant lobbyists

The register of consultant lobbyists documents those clients on behalf of whom Charlotte Street Partners has met with government ministers. They have been registered since January 2016, and their listings so far are as follows:

January - March 2016

Wireless Infrastructure Group [22]

April - June 2016

A.G. Barr | Wireless Infrastructure Group [23]

Scottish referendum

  • Scottish referendum - it was thought that Charlotte Street, Weber Shandwick and Grayling were among the front runners to handle the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The six-month contract was expected to be worth up to £10,000 a month.[24] In March 2014 it was announced Golley Slater had won the contract, worth between £25,000 and £50,000 over six months.[25]

Events

In April 2015, Charlotte Street organised an event in Edinburgh with Lord Ashcroft as the guest speaker. Ashcroft criticised the repeated attacks on Ed Miliband and the reputation they had given David Cameron and he rejected Labour and Liberal Democrat criticism of his constituency polling. Ashcroft said that despite public opinion viewing Cameron as the better Prime Minister and the Conservative's as the better party for the economy, the party are also seen as nasty and the personal attacks at Miliband have not helped this opinion.

At the event Ashcroft, through information obtained by his polling company, predicted defeats for big names including Lib Dem Treasury secretary Danny Alexander, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander - all of which came true.[26]

Affiliations

Frame Creative

In October 2014, Charlotte Street joined forces with Glasgow-based Frame and experienced PR man Stephen McCranor to form Frame Creative, a consumer PR firm. The firm will be run by McCranor and came about from discussions after Frame were employed to create and run the Charlotte Street website. McCranor, who worked alongside Charlotte Street co-founder Malcolm Robertson at Beattie Media in the 1990s, was invited to join the discussions and said 'it was a no-brainer for me - when people like this ask you to a party, believe me, you party with them'.

At the launch, the agency announced two major clients, Greaves Sports and Finsbury Foods. They began working on Greaves' Christmas campaign and work with Finsbury started early in 2015.[27]

Contact

Email: info@charlottestpartners.co.uk
Website: http://www.charlottestpartners.co.uk/index.html
Twitter: @cstreetpartners

Edinburgh

Address: 16 Alva Street
Edinburgh
EH2 4QG
Telephone: 0131 516 5310

London

Address: 15 Rathbone Street
London
W1T 1NB
Telephone: 0207 079 3921

Notes

  1. June, Ministerial Engagements 2014-15
  2. Hospitality and Gift Register 01 October 2014 to 31 December 2014, Scottish Futures Trust declarations
  3. Special Advisers - Gifts and Hospitality - Received, 1 October 2014 - 31 December 2014
  4. April, Ministerial engagements
  5. The Good Corporation and its role in modern society, SSE website, accessed September 2015
  6. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotlandsquarespace.com, 12 October 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  7. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotlandsquarespace.com, 12 October 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  8. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotlandsquarespace.com, 12 October 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  9. Holyrood Exposed: A Guide to Lobbying in Scotland,squarespace.com, 12 October 2015, accessed 12 October 2015
  10. Charlotte Street Partners Services, accessed 13 July 2015.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Charlotte Street Partners People, accessed 13 July 2015.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Terry Murden PR heavyweights unite to launch media consultancy Scotsman, 1 December 2013, accessed 13 July 2015.
  13. Linkedin Malcolm Robertson, accessed 13 July 2015.
  14. Finsbury James Murhatroyd, accessed 13 July 2015.
  15. Linkedin Johnny Hornby, accessed 13 July 2015.
  16. Scott McCulloch SNP communications director to join PR firm Charlotte Street Partners Daily Record, 22 June 2015, accessed 13 July 2015.
  17. Linkedin Chris Deerin, accessed 13 July 2015.
  18. Linkedin Sharon Ward, accessed 13 July 2015.
  19. Payments over £25k, Green Investment Bank
  20. First Group plc New study reveals impact of ScotRail on the tourist industry, 2 July 2014, accessed 13 July 2015.
  21. Cluff press release, 27 May 2015
  22. Charlotte Street Partners profile 2016, Registrar of consultant lobbyists, accessed 29 April 2016
  23. 'Charlotte Street Partners profile 2016', Register of consultant lobbyists, accessed 20 July 2016
  24. Terry Murden PR firms to pitch for referendum contract Scotsman, 10 February 2014, accessed 21 July 2015.
  25. Terry Murden Golley Slater wins battle to handle referendum PR Scotsman, 25 March 2014, accessed 21 July 2015.
  26. Magnus Gardham Lord Ashcroft: Tories are still the 'nasty party' Herald Scotland, 30 April 2015, accessed 21 July 2015.
  27. Scott Wright Consumer services in the Frame for new PR venture Herald Scotland, 27 October 2014, accessed 21 July 2015.