Westbourne Communications

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Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.
Westbourne Communications is a lobbying firm co-founded and run by James Bethell, the 5th Baron Bethell. It describes itself as a "small specialist agency that offers clients a fresh approach", placing strong emphasis on the need to change public opinion as a way of influencing decision-makers.
The traditional ways of conducting your communications are growing out of date. The economics of digital media have broken old monopolies on information. Scandals created suspicion about back-room decisions. Consumers expect choices.

At Westbourne, we believe that decision-makers will be influenced less by secretive lobbying and more by changing opinion about your issues. Headlines and contacts are important but, increasingly, not enough. Nowadays it might be just as important to mobilise public supporters. Or else giving a voice to relevant specialist groups – experts, officials, professionals, locals, parents.

That’s why you need a new combination of skills. Researching opinion. Presenting your case. Adapting to feedback. Direct communications, often over the internet. Mobilising support. Rebutting opposition.
Westbourne Comms, London, 17 Carlton House Terrace - on the same road as the Royal Academy of Engineering


Contents

Astroturfing

Fracking

'Students for shale'

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project
In 2015 Westbourne were forced to deny they set up an 'astroturf' group in favour of fracking, to benefit their clients - Centrica and Cuadrilla. In June 2015, 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.

The Morning Star claimed that the pro-shale students have vested interests in fracking because they are studying geology and hoping to get jobs in the industry. One of the students also 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 fund the North West Energy Task Force, which is led by Westbourne.

Westbourne account director, Maurice 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, after which Cousins demanded that only he be contacted for information on the issue. Cousins also accused the newspaper of 'harassing' students and said they were 'students, not activists'.[1]

'North West Energy Task Force'

Westbourne employed ex-ministerial environment special adviser Tom Evans until January 2015 to work with clients such as the North West Energy Task Force (NWETF), a ‘local’ lobby group set up by Centrica and Cuadrilla to push the business case for fracking in Lancashire. Analysis by Greenpeace in 2015 revealed however that less than half of NWETF’s members were based in the county, and included an elderly care home and a Welsh fishing resort.

Spinwatch highlights the benefits for lobbying firms such as Westbourne of employing former government advisers:

Emails released recently by Defra under freedom of information rules reveal that in May 2014 a Westbourne staffer wrote to Guy Robinson, who was at the time a special adviser to former environment secretary Owen Paterson (now Liz Truss), to request a meeting on ‘shale gas and farming’. The lobbyist, whose name is redacted but mentions NWETF is a client, was ‘working on a research paper exploring the potential benefits of shale gas developments to farmers’. He/she wanted ‘to discuss some of the findings’ over ‘some lunch or a brief coffee’ ahead of a launch event.
Within hours Robinson had replied, asking the lobbyist to set up a meeting with his diary office. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing whether they met – the emails don’t give any dates in the secretariat’s reply, or indicate if they arranged it by phone. Nor is it listed on Defra's most recent disclosed spads’ meetings dated 30 June 2014.
Guy Robinson, as it turns out, is an ex-lobbyist himself – he once worked for Crosby Textor, the UK-Australian lobbying outfit co-owned by David Cameron’s infamous election spin doctor Lynton Crosby.
Evans now works for a much bigger lobbying firm, Burson Marsteller (B-M), which handles the account of petrochemical giant and wannabe fracker Ineos. B-M used to employ Maria Allen, now special adviser to energy and climate minister Amber Rudd. [2]

For more about the special access to the UK government enjoyed by the fracking industry, see the Fracking lobbying firms and Fracking Spads pages on Powerbase.

Transport

In a report for Spinwatch by journalist Anna Minton, Westbourne were accused of astroturfing to spin a campaign for high-speed rail to intimidate local opposition, or in the words of Westbourne managing director James Bethell, 'shit them up'.[1][3]

People

September 2016-November 2016

Victoria Adams | James Bethell | Anouchka Burton | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Maurice Cousins | Louisa Elliott | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Lucy James | Kate McFerran | Jennifer Powers | Laurence Raeburn-Smith | George Robinson | Matthew Sinclair | Jacqui Smith | Campbell Storey | Ben Walker | Tom Wilkins

June 2016-August 2016

James Bethell | Anouchka Burton | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Maurice Cousins | Louisa Elliott | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Olivia Gleeson | Lucy James | Kate McFerran | Jennifer Powers | George Robinson | Matthew Sinclair | Jacqui Smith | Campbell Storey | Ben Walker | James Wickett Whyte| Tom Wilkins [4]

March 2016-May 2016

James Bethell | Anouchka Burton | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Maurice Cousins | Louisa Elliott | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Olivia Gleeson | Lucy James | Kate McFerran | Paul Mills | Jennifer Powers | George Robinson | Matthew Sinclair | Jacqui Smith | Campbell Storey | Ben Walker | James Wickett Whyte | Tom Wilkins [5]

December 2015-February 2016

James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Maurice Cousins | Louisa Elliott | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Olivia Gleeson | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Kate McFerran | Paul Mills | Johannes Pelkonen | Jennifer Powers | George Robinson | Jacqui Smith | Campbell Storey | Christiaan Weiland | James Wickett Whyte | Tom Wilkins [6]

September 2015-November 2015

James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Maurice Cousins | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Olivia Gleeson | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Kate McFerran | Paul Mills | Johannes Pelkonen | Jennifer Powers | Jacqui Smith | Doniya Soni | Campbell Storey | Christiaan Weiland | James Wickett-Whyte | Tom Wilkins [7]

June 2015-August 2015

James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Maurice Cousins | James Garland | Ben Garratt | Olivia Gleeson | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Kate McFerran |Paul Mills | Johannes Pelkonen | Jennifer Powers | Jacqui Smith | Doniya Soni | Campbell Storey | Christian Weiland | James Wickett Whyte | Tom Wilkins[8]

March 2015-May 2015

James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Tom Conroy | Maurice Cousins | James Garland | Ben Garatt | Olivia Gleeson | John Higginson | Lucy James | Jack Lewis | Alex Linden | Kate McFerren | Paul Mills | Johannes Pelkonen | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Jacqui Smith | Doniya Soni | James Wickett Whyte | Tom Wilkins [9]

December 2014-February 2015

James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Tom Conroy | Maurice Cousins | Tom Evans | James Garland | Ben Garratt | John Higginson | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Jack Lewis | Alex Linden | Rebecca Lury | Paul Mills | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Jacqui Smith | Doniya Soni | Campbell Storey | Christiaan Weiland | James Wickett Whyte | Amy Yiannitsarou[10]

September 2014-November 2014

Ben Abbotts | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Tom Conroy | Maurice Cousins | Tom Evans | James Garland | Ben Garratt | John Higginson | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Rebecca Lury | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Doniya Soni | Campbell Storey | Alex White | James Wicket Whyte | Amy Yiannitsarou[11]

June 2014-August 2014

Ben Abbotts | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clarke | Matthew Colledge | Tom Conroy | Maurice Cousins | Tom Evans | James Garland | Ben Garratt | John Higginson | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Rebecca Lury | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Campbell Storey | Alex White | James Wicket Whyte | Amy Yiannitsarou[12]

March 2014-May 2014

Ben Abbotts | Joseph Ampah | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clark | Maurice Cousins | Mark Evans | Helena Frisby | Ben Garratt | Hannah Hatt | John Higginson | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Rebecca Lury | Richard Martyn Hemphill | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Campbell Storey | Portia Swales | James Wicket Whyte | Chloe Williams Wynne | Amy Yiannitsarou [13]

December 2013-February 2014

Ben Abbotts | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | James Clark | Maurice Cousins | Mark Evans | Helena Frisby | Ben Garratt | Dominic Haldane | John Higginson | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Annabel Roycroft | Duncan Sedgwick | Campbell Storey | Portia Swales | Mark Thompson | James Wicket Whyte | Danny Wilkinson | Amy Yiannitsarou [14]

September 2013-November 2013

Ben Abbotts | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | Bernard Hughes | Lucy James | Alex Linden | Nicola Minford | Jennifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Adrian Shooter | Campbell Storey | Portia Swales [15]

June 2013-August 2013

Portia Swales | Ben Abbotts | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | Maurice Cousins | Milly Doolan | Emily Hamilton | Lucy James | Dan Large | Alex Linden | Duncan Menzies | Nichola Minford | Jenniifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Duncan Sedgwick | Adrian Shooter | Campbell Storey [16]

March 2013-May 2013

Portia Swales | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | Maurice Cousins | Milly Doolan | Emily Hamilton | Lucy James | Dan Large | Alex Linden | Duncan Menzies | Nichola Minford | Jenniifer Powers | Christopher Rees | Thomas Ricketts | Duncan Sedgwick | Adrian Shooter | Campbell Storey [17]

December 2012-February 2013

Portia Swales | James Bethell | Paul Chapman | Maurice Cousins | Milly Doolan | Emily Hamilton | Lucy James | Dan Large | Alex Linden | Duncan Menzies | Nichola Minford | Jenniifer Powers | Thomas Ricketts | Duncan Sedgwick | Adrian Shooter | Campbell Storey [18]

Infrastructure practice

Former staff

Clients

Registrar of consultant lobbyists

Westbourne Communications has been registered since January 2016. The register documents those clients for whom lobbying agencies have met with ministers, and Westbourne's 2015 listings are as follows:

January - March 2015

BAM Nuttall Ltd | Birmingham Airport Ltd | ComplyServe Ltd | GB Railfreight Ltd | Hitachi Rail Europe | HS2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Legal and General plc | LinkedIn Technology UK Ltd | The Green Deal Finance Company | Uber B.V. | US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

April - June 2015

BAM Nuttall Ltd | Birmingham Airport Ltd | Centrica | ComplyServe Ltd | GB Railfreight Ltd | Green Deal Finance Company | Hitachi | HS2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn Technology UK Ltd | Opus Energy | SAP | Society of Chief Librarians | Uber

July - September 2015

BAM Nuttall Ltd | Birmingham Airport Ltd | Circle Housing | ComplyServe Ltd | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe | HS2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn Technology UK Ltd | Opus Energy | SAP | Society of Chief Librarians

October - December 2015

LinkedIn Technology UK Ltd [26]

January - March 2016

No clients reported.

April - June 2016

No clients reported.

July 2016-September 2016

No clients reported.

APPC lobbying register

September 2016-November 2016

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Burberry | Centrica Energy | Circle Housing | Cuadrilla Bowland | GB Railfreight | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | LinkedIn | MHI Vestas | Northern Rail | One Housing Group | Open Energi | Oxbotica | Peabody | pensionsync | Platinum Property Partners | Police Federation | Prospects | SilverRail | Triton Knoll | Urban Vision | Wolfson Economics Prize | Woodland Trust

June 2016-August 2016

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Burberry | Centrica Energy | Circle Housing | Cuadrilla Bowland | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | LinkedIn | MHI Vestas | Open Energi | Peabody | pensionsync | Platinum Property Partners | Prospects | Shelter | Triton Knoll [4]

March 2016-May 2016

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Circle Housing Comply | Serve | Cuadrilla Bowland | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | Open Energi | Opus Energy | Peabody | Platinum Property Partners | Prospects | Shelter [5]

December 2015-February 2016

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport Centrica Energy | Circle Housing Comply | Serve | Cuadrilla Bowland | Food and Drink Federation | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail EuropeLtd | Hs2Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | Open Energi | Opus Energy | Peabody | SAP | Shelter [6]

September 2015-November 2015

BAM Nutall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Circle Housing | ComplyServe | Cuadrilla Bowland | Food and Drink Federation | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | Maximus | OpusEnergy | Peabody | SAP [27]

June 2015-August 2015

BAM Nutall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Circle Housing | ComplyServe | Cuadrilla Bowland | GB Railfreight | GDFC | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | Opus Energy | SAP[28]

March 2015-May 2015

BAM Nutall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | ComplyServe | Cuadrilla Bowland | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | Opus Energy | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | Uber [9]

December 2014-February 2015

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | ComplyServe | Cuadrilla Bowland | G Plus Europe | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | LinkedIn | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | Uber[10]

September 2014-November 2014

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Crest Nicholson | Cuadrilla Bowland | G Plus Europe | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | Manchester City Council | Marsh Insurance | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | The Wolfson Prize | Uber | UKOOG[11]

June 2014-August 2014

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Crest Nicholson | Cuadrilla Bowland | ERSA | G Plus Europe | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | IBI Group | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | Manchester City Council | Marsh Insurance | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | The Wolfson Prize | Uber | UKOOG[12]

March 2014-May 2014

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Crest Nicholson | Cuadrilla Bowland | ERSA | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Hs2 Ltd | IBI Group | Ingeus UK | Institute for Legal Reform | Legal & General | Marketing Birmingham | The Freight Alliance | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | The Wolfson Prize | Uber | [13]

December 2013-February 2014

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | Centrica Energy | Crest Nicholson | Cuadrilla Bowland | ERSA | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | Marketing Birmingham | The Dearman Engine Company | The Freight Alliance | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | The Wolfson Prize | Utilita [14]

September 2013-November 2013

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | The Dearman Engine Company | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd | Utilita [15]

June 2013-August 2013

BAM Nuttall | Birmingham Airport | GB Railfreight | Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | Siemens | The Dearman Engine Company | The Green Deal Finance Company Ltd [16]

March 2013-May 2013

All Party Parliamentary Group on High Speed Rail | Birmingham Airport | Campaign for High Speed Rail | GB Railfreight | Healthlogistics | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | Shelter | Siemens | The Dearman Engine Company [17]

December 2012-February 2013

APPG for High Speed Rail | Birmingham Airport | Campaign for High Speed Rail | Core Cities | Euston Estate Limited | GB Railfreight | Healthlogistics | Ingeus UK | Legal & General | Siemens | The Society of Chief Librarians [18]

March - May 2012

Former clients

Westbourne's website displays the following companies' logos on its 'about Westbourne' page:

Publications and pamphlets

  • Westbourne Communications, 'Know your campaigners: rethinking the way that organisations engage with campaigners', undated leaflet, written by Westbourne research Dominic Haldene

Affiliations

  • Nothing British - Westbourne's founder Bethell set up this campaign against the BNP, drawing upon support from powerful British military figures
  • Doctors for Reform - launched this campaign which represented 1000 medical practitioners backing government plans to overhaul the NHS and which was supported by Reform, the free-market thinktank that has received funding from private healthcare companies. [30]

Contact, Resources and Notes

Westbourne Comms Company was incorporated as a private limited company (No. 06936185) on 17 June 2009. Its registered address is 17 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH. Founder James Bethell is the sole company director. [31]

Contact

Address:17 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH
Email:jennifer.powers@westbournecoms.com
Website: www.changeopinion.com

Previously:

55 Tufton Street
London SW1P 3QL
Tel: 02033970100
Email: campbell.storey@westbournecoms.com

Resources

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. Melissa Jones and Andy Rowell, Access all areas: Westminster's (vast) fracking lobby exposed, 29 April 2015.
  3. Anna Minton Anna Minton on Westbourne's response to Spinwatch local lobbying and planning abuses report Spinwatch, 8 April 2013, accessed 25 June 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Westbourne Communications Register, APPC, accessed 10 October 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Register for 1st March 2016 - 31st May 2016, APPC, accessed 24 November 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Communications Westbourne Communications staff, Register 1st December 2015-28th February 2016, APPC, accessed 8 April 2016
  7. Westbourne Communications staff, Sep-Nov15, APPC.org, accessed 3 February 2016
  8. Register 1st July 2015-August 2015APPC, accessed 28 September 2015
  9. 9.0 9.1 Register 1st March 2015-31st May 2015APPC, accessed 29 September 2015
  10. 10.0 10.1 Register 1st December 2014 - 28th February 2015 APPC, accessed 9 March 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 16 January 2015
  12. 12.0 12.1 Register 1st June 2014 - 31st August 2014 APPC, accessed 17 October 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Register for 1st March 2014 - 31st May 2014 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 Register for 1st December 2013 - 28th February 2014 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 Register for 1st September 2013 - 30th November 2013 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Register for 1st June 2013 - 31st August 2013 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Register for 1st March 2013 - 31st May 2013 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Register for 1st December 2012 - 28th February 2013 APPC, accessed 1 October 2014
  19. Public Affairs: The Week in Lobbying, prweek.com, Friday, 18 May 2012, 12:00am, acc 7 April 2013
  20. Public Affair News, People Moves - March 2011 edition
  21. James Wickett-Whyte, LinkedIn profile, acc April 2013
  22. James Wickett-Whyte, Curtis & Co website, acc 8 April 2013
  23. Harry Spencer, LinkedIn, acc 8 April 2013
  24. Public Affair News, PEOPLE MOVES - September 2011 edition, 1 September 2011
  25. Milly Doolan Linkedin, accessed 16 January 2015
  26. Westbourne Communications profile 2015, Registrar of consultant lobbyists, accessed 5 February 2016
  27. Westbourne Communications clients, Sep-Nov15, APPC.org, accessed 2 February 2016
  28. Register 1st June-31st August 2015APPC.Org, accessed 28 September 2015
  29. About Westbourne, acc 8 April 2013
  30. Jamie Doward, [1], The Observer, Saturday 6 April 2013 22.35 BST, acc same day
  31. Companies House, Webcheck, acc 8 April 2013