Brown Lloyd James

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Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.

Brown Lloyd James or BLJ is a PR and lobbying firm founded by Peter Brown and Howell James. It offers a number of services including 'Public Diplomacy', 'Reputation Management' and 'Government Relations', which it describes as follows: "Brown Lloyd James has personal contacts with leading policymakers and senior politicians around the world and across political spectra. We provide strategic guidance to organizations on how to position themselves before and communicate with this critical audience and to win them to your cause."[1]

Controversial clients

Selling Gadaffi as a 'fascinating world figure'

Brown Lloyd James's New York office was hired in 2009 to promote Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi as ‘a fascinating world figure’ around the time of his UN visit. It also worked with his son Saif Gaddafi. The agency's partner Sir Nicholas Lloyd defended the work done at a time when Libya was recognised by the UK and US governments. Protest group The Really Ethical PR Agency said however it was "time to remember the disgraceful work being done to imp­rove the image of something which is appalling". [2]

Assad dictatorship

In 2011 and 2012 the firm faced flak for its work with the Assad dictatorship in Syria, reportedly $5,000-per-month work that included landing a fawning Vogue profile of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad.

Communications released by Wikileaks between the Syrian government and Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) gave a rare insight into a lobby group’s PR strategy for an authoritarian regime, and disproved its denials that it had done any work for the Assad regime since 2010. The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin wrote that:

In a document contained in the WikiLeaks releases, Brown Lloyd James advises the Syrian regime on how to spin its war against anti-Assad dissidents: “If hard power is necessary to quell rebellion, soft power is needed to reassure the Syrian people and outside audiences that reform is proceeding apace, legitimate grievances are being addressed and taken seriously, and that Syria’s actions are ultimately aimed at creating an environment in which change and progress can take place.” The document also advises the creation of a media campaign that would “create a reform ‘echo-chamber’ by developing media coverage outside of Syria that points to the President’s difficult task of wanting reform, but conducted in an non-chaotic, rational way.”
The WikiLeaks document appears to blow a rather large hole in Brown Lloyd James’s previous claim, made to the Hill last August, that “its work for the Syrian government ended in December 2010.” The Syrian e-mail released by WikiLeaks, which contained the BLJ plan as an attachment, is dated May 19, 2011. According to the Microsoft Word document properties, the proposal was written by BJL partner Michael Holtzman on May 15, 2011. The company’s 2011 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings for Syria only say the company was doing business on behalf of the “Office of the First Lady of the Syrian Arab Republic,” remunerated only for its assistance in arranging that now infamous Vogue profile of Bashar al-Assad’s wife, Asma.


Another controversial client taken on in 2011 included the Iranian opposition outfit Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), designated a terrorist organisation by the US State Department. BLJ was hired by a Germany-based MEK backer named Ali Taslimi working on behalf of Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp in Iraq north of Baghdad that houses over 3,000 Iranian MEK members and supporters. For an initial fee of $40,000, BLJ signed on to provide political consulting services and "a broad range of public relations services for the months of May and June 2011" to Camp Ashraf, which is officially listed as the client. [3]


  • Peter Brown is described as a "well-known social and charity fixer. He has acted as an adviser to Prince Charles and Prince Edward. He is also known as "a key figure among the network of those known as ‘Peter’s Friends’", referring to his friendship with Lord Peter Mandelson, the British Business Secretary and former EU Trade Commissioner. [4]

Former people

  • Howell James, co-founder of BLJ, is a former Cabinet communications chief. In 2009 he is director of corporate affairs for Barclays Bank. James was reported to have once been in a relationship with Reinaldo da Silva, Peter Mandelson’s partner. [5]


BLJ has a number of offices worldwide, including: New York, London, Doha, Washington DC, Bejiing, Moscow, and Tripoli .


London Office:
25 Lower Belgrave Street
London SW1W ONR
tel: +44 20 7591 9610
fax: +44 20 7591 9611


  1. BLJ website, accessed August 2009
  2. Matt Cartmell, Brown Lloyd James Targeted In Protest At Gaddafi Promotion Links PRWeek, 16 March 2011, accessed 15 June 2011
  3. Asawin Suebsaeng, Brown Lloyd James: Lobbying for Backers of a Terrorist Group, Mother Jones, Oct. 3, 2011
  4. Peter Mandleson's PR friend opens office in Libya, Daily Mail, 30 August 2009
  5. Peter Mandleson's PR friend opens office in Libya, Daily Mail, 30 August 2009