Maurice Cousins

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Maurice Cousins heads the Intelligence unit of Westbourne Communications, having joined the lobbying firm in May 2010 as an account executive. He was previously a researcher for Nothing British and deputy editor of its website Nothingbritish.com,[1],[2] which was set up by Westbourne founder James Bethell and Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome in March 2009.

Prior to this, Cousin worked as a Research Assistant at Conservative Friends of Israel, and for Douglas Carswell MP and the Centre for Social Cohesion.[3]

He has written for a number of blogs including ConservativeHome’s Platform, the Henry Jackson Society’s The Scoop and Harry’s Place.[4]

Activities

At Westbourne Cousin's role has covered strategic communications on: Scrap the Tax; Stolen Valour; Campaign for High-Speed Rail; Business for Local Pay; Wolfson Economics Prize.

In his public affairs work he has "briefed backbench MPs, Ministers, Prime Minister's PPS and government officials". Business development work has included compiling"a database of over 500 potential new leads for infrastructure practice; organized infrastructure launch event and dinner with former ministers, government officials and Olympics executives. [5]

Fracking and astroturfing

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project
In June 2015 Cousins was forced to deny that he had used the technique of astroturfing to benefit Westbourne Communications clients Centrica and Cuadrilla. Press releases, featured in the mainstream media, showed eight students holding a banner saying 'Students for Shale' on the steps of Lancashire Country Council, in anticipation of the councils' up and coming debate on whether to allow fracking in the area.

Journalists Solomon Hughes and Lamiat Sabin in the Morning Star claim the pro-shale students have vested interests in fracking as they are studying geology and hoping to get jobs in the industry - including one student who attends Blackpool and Fylde College, which was designated as the national training centre for the onshore gas sector in 2014. Centrica and Cuadrilla have 'supported' the college and also fund the North West Energy Task Force led by Westbourne.

Cousins denied deliberately using Lancashire geology students to coerce positive public opinion of fracking. He said 'We are in no way misrepresenting how students regard fracking. I do not understand what the issue is. We are transparent and not misleading. The students are within their rights to their opinions.' The Morning Star contacted Blackpool and Fylde College and soon after Cousins demanded they only got information from him. He also accused the newspaper of 'harassing' students and said they were 'students, not activists'.[6]

Affiliations

Notes

  1. About Page, Nothing British, accessed 16 July 2010.
  2. Our People, Westbourne Communications, accessed 6 July 2010.
  3. About Page, Nothing British, accessed 16 July 2010.
  4. Our People, Westbourne Communications, accessed 6 July 2010.
  5. Maurice Cousins, LinkedIn profile, acc 8 April 2013
  6. Lamiat Sabin and Solomon Hughes Shady shale lobbyists accused of setting up sham grassroots group supporting drilling Morning Star, 24 June 2015, accessed 25 June 2015.