Charles Geoffrey Stewart-Smith

From Powerbase
Revision as of 11:30, 29 January 2015 by Josh Leeson (talk | contribs) (On hiring government spinners)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Charles Geoffrey Stewart-Smith (born 9 March 1961) is a journalist turned PR operative. He is described as an 'arch-networker' in New Labour and media circles and is reportedly friends with Peter Mandelson and newscaster Trevor McDonald.[1] He is married to former Sunday Times City editor Kirstie Hamilton[2] and is one of four shareholders in the PR meets journalism venture Editorial Intelligence. He is one of three sons of the former Conservative MP and anti-communist activist Geoffrey Stewart-Smith.

Journalism

After graduating from Durham University, Stewart-Smith worked on the Northern Echo before moving to the BBC, where he worked on programmes including Today, the Financial World Tonight, the Nine O'Clock News and Newsnight. In 1987 he moved to ITN, where he became editor of News at Ten.[3]

PR Career

In 1992 Stewart-Smith co-founded the PR firm Luther Pendragon with Observer journalist George Pitcher, and two other members of staff.[4] Stewart-Smith and Pitcher first met in 1986 when Stewart-Smith bought Luther Pendragon’s wife’s flat.[5] They were assisted in their new venture by Huntsworth Group CEO Lord Chadlington who helped them with their business plan.

In addition to his role at Luther Pendragon, Stewart-Smith was managing director of Pendragon Productions, the company's TV production business. He also served as a non-executive chairman of Silk Public Relations until 2003 and chaired Brussels-based consultancy, GPlus, which was sold to Omnicom in 2005.[6] In November that year Stewart-Smith also sold Luther Pendragon to a management team. In 2007 he joined the controversial PR firm Editorial Intelligence as a non-executive chairman.[7]

Clients

Spinning for the Hindujas

In 2001 Stewart-Smith was retained by the Hinduja brothers to handle their PR in relation to the controversy over the role of Peter Mandelson in awarding them British passports. The Guardian reported:

The Hindujas, the brothers at the centre of the Peter Mandelson passport row, have handed their PR account to Luther Pendragon after only two weeks with their last PR firm. The appointment comes after Brown Lloyd James, the Hindujas' incumbent firm, quit the account after a fortnight of press speculation about a relationship between its executive, ex-Downing Street aide Howell James, and Peter Mandelson's partner Reinaldo da Silva….The account is being run by Luther Pendragon partner Charles Stewart-Smith, who co-founded the firm with George Pitcher and two other members of staff in 1992.[8]

Two days later (on 7 February 2001) The Guardian again reported:

Mr Stewart-Smith is already defending the Hindujas' honour, and his company's principles, with zeal. "We have no qualms about working with the Hindujas. I am old-fashioned in believing that people are innocent until proven guilty," he said. He claims to have seen "quite a lot" of the passport-row documentation and is satisfied the Hindujas are innocent. But he claims to be motivated by another aspect of working for the Hindujas. "It is fascinating work - understanding a business which is different to any other I've worked with before. “Theirs is the only corporate brochure I have seen which bears a picture of their grandfather with the words 'My duty is to earn so that I can give' underneath.” His introduction to the Indian billionaires doesn't surprise those who know him. He is an arch-networker and counts many big media names as his friends, including Sir Trevor McDonald and, ironically, Peter Mandelson. Further down the pecking order in his contacts is Sada - the Big Brother hippy chick. They knew each other at Durham university and, when Sada was voted out of the Channel 4 game show, it was Mr Stewart-Smith to whom she turned.[9]

Latterly Stewart-Smith was found to have issued inaccurate information about the links between the Hindujas and Lord Levy. In 2006 The Spectator reported:

Charles Stewart-Smith, a lobbyist acting for the Hindujas' interests in London, was emphatic. 'The Hindujas have never made a donation or a loan to the Labour party or any UK political party, ' he said. Within his industry, Stewart-Smith has a rare reputation for integrity but it is possible he has not been kept fully abreast of the situation. 'As far as we can tell, the Hindujas have never met Lord Levy.' This, for a start, is untrue. Lord Levy, Tony Blair's chief fundraiser, now at the heart of the loans-for-ermine scandal, met the Hindujas on 23 and 28 October 1998 meetings both documented by Hammond. He turned up first at the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss funding for the Dome's Faith Zone.[10]

PFI spin

In December 2003 PR Week reported Stewart-Smith's involvement with the controversial PFI firm Jarvis plc:

Luther Pendragon partner and co-founder Charles Stewart-Smith, whose agency advises Jarvis on corporate PR, argues there is evidence emerging - particularly at a local level - that the company's reputation is improving.[11]

Russian Oligarchs

Luther Pendragon and Stewart-Smith specifically have a history of involvement with the Russian oligarchs. In July 2004 it was reported that:

Members of Dubai's ruling Maktoum family are believed to have joined a bid fronted by Konstantin Kagalovsky, a former associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Yukos's largest shareholder. A consortium spokesman, Charles Stewart-Smith, said that $10-$12 billion was "in the ballpark" of what would be needed for the deal and confirmed that the consortium was led by Kagalovsky, but he refused to identify other members. Kagalovsky, for his part, said the consortium was ready "to fully cover" Yukos' debts.[12]

Later in 2006 The Times reported that Luther Pendragon “does media relations for GML, formerly Group Menatep. GML owns 51 per cent of Yukos, formerly owned by Mr Khodorkovsky.” The company was “advising GML over litigation against the Russian Federation about assets seized from Yukos for alleged non-tax payment.”[13]

...and the Kremlin

Stewart Smith was also involved until 2005 with GPlus the firm which was hired by the Kremlin “as part of a Ketchum- led team during last year's G8 presidency”. Peter Guilford states that GPlus was asked “to cover Russia's G8 priorities - energy security, education and infectious diseases”.[14]

Other clients

  • British Phonographic Industry
  • Quantocks Stag Hounds which was reported in 1997 to have 'hired Luther Pendragon to campaign against the National Trust's decision earlier this year to ban deer-hunting on its land. The ban is an unwelcome setback for the Somerset-based hunt which historically has hunted on large parcels of National Trust land. "Our brief is to examine issues related to the National Trust decision,' said Luther Pendragon director Charles Stewart-Smith".'[15]

Deal broker

In 2003 Stewart-Smith (as non-exec Chairman of Silk Public Relations) brokered a deal that led to Silk PR being taken over by Focus PR:

Focus PR this week completed its acquisition of niche interiors and design PR firm Silk Public Relations. The acquisition, a cash deal to fund the transfer of clients and staff, has coincided with the departure of Silk's co-founders Beth Harrison and Fiona Robertson... Five Silk staff, however, including partners Tamsin Walker and Stuart Paterson, have joined Focus, with the former becoming head of interiors PR and the latter taking the title creative head. Clients including mail order firm The White Company, furniture business Shaker and Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire have also moved across. Meacham said the deal had been initially brokered four months ago by Silk non-executive chairman Charles Stewart-Smith, who has ceased to be involved in the newly merged entity.[16]

On hiring government spinners

In 2003 Stewart-Smith defended the appointment of former government spin doctor Mike Granatt. PR Week reported:

Luther Pendragon has lured head of Government Information and Communication Service (GICS) Mike Granatt and former campaign director of Britain in Europe (BiE) Simon Buckby to join the consultancy as partners. The pair will take up their new positions in the new year.'We've not hired these guys for their contacts. We are not an old-school lobbying firm that recruits names just to rub shoulders with MPs. Mike and Simon have been hired because they can do the job,' said Luther founding partner Charles Stewart-Smith.[17]

On environmental protestors

Stewart-Smith in 1997 on the campaign against the extension of Manchester Airport:

The vast majority of these protests are ineffective. In every single case roads or whatever have been built. The Manchester protesters haven't even begun to take the people with them - the vast majority want the airport to go ahead. The protesters have failed to understand the nature of democracy. All this has done is turned a few people into heroes.'[18]

Notes

  1. Julia Day A guy for the big story Charles Stewart-Smith is a man who likes to fight for a cause. As the Hinduja brothers' new PR adviser, he may well have a fight on his hands. MediaGuardian, Wednesday February 7 2001
  2. ‘A guy for the big story’, MediaGuardian, 7 February 2001
  3. Caitlin Fitzsimmons, ‘Ex-BBC man joins journalism-PR firm Caitlin Fitzsimmons’, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday November 13 2007 14:47 GMT
  4. Julia Day ‘Hindujas hand PR account to Luther Pendragon’, MediaGuardian, 5 February 2001
  5. Ian Hall, ‘PROFILE: George Pitcher, Luther Pendragon - Pendragon's Pitcher turns spin on its head’, PR Week UK, 4 October 2002
  6. Caitlin Fitzsimmons, ‘Ex-BBC man joins journalism-PR firm Caitlin Fitzsimmons’, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday November 13 2007 14:47 GMT
  7. Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Ex-BBC man joins journalism-PR firm November 13, 2007, Guardian Unlimited
  8. Julia Day ‘Hindujas hand PR account to Luther Pendragon’, MediaGuardian, 5 February 2001
  9. Julia Day A guy for the big story Charles Stewart-Smith is a man who likes to fight for a cause. As the Hinduja brothers' new PR adviser, he may well have a fight on his hands. MediaGuardian, Wednesday February 7 2001
  10. Fraser Nelson, 'The Hinduja file is reopened over lunch in New Delhi'; The Spectator, 27 May 2006
  11. PR Week (UK) December 12, 2003 ANALYSIS: Jarvis rethinks its PR to counter 'troubled' label; JarvisEngineering Co. SECTION: Pg. 09 ISSN: 0267-6087
  12. Prime-Tass English-language Business Newswire DJ Khodorkovsky ally offers to pay bail, Yukos tax bill, Dow Jones, July 23, 2004
  13. David Charter and Philip Webster, ‘Groucho trips up the G8 spin doctors’, The Times, 13 July 2006
  14. PR Week March 16, 2007 Brussels' inside man - Peter Guilford, senior partner, GPlus Europe BYLINE: Hannah Marriott SECTION: PROFILE; Pg. 15
  15. PR Week June 6, 1997 Luther Pendragon goes in for the kill to reverse deer hunt ban
  16. PR Week (UK) June 13, 2003 Focus completes Silk purchase as founders depart; SECTION: Pg. 03 ISSN: 0267-6087
  17. PR Week (UK) November 7, 2003 Luther snaps up big guns Granatt and Buckby; Luther Pendragon appoints Mike Granatt and Simon Buckby to join the consultancy as partners; SECTION: Pg. 01 ISSN: 0267-6087
  18. PR Week June 6, 1997 Big Question: Have the Manchester Airport protestors gone too far?