Tim Allan

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Tim Allan is a former special adviser to the Labour Party [1] and managing director of Portland PR.[2]


Allan studied at Cambridge University and worked for Tony Blair when he was shadow Home Secretary, becoming deputy to Alastair Campbell at Downing Street during the Labour government. He went on to a £100,000 job as Director of Corporate Communications for BSkyB (including writing speeches for Elisabeth Murdoch).[3]

New Labour, lobbying and union-busting

Allan now runs Portland PR. Miller and Dinan note the myriad connections between Allan, lobbyists and the government[4]:

take Tim Allan who was deputy to Alastair Campbell in the Downing Street press office and subsequently took a six figure salary at BSkyB as a corporate spin doctor in 1998. Later Allan set up Portland PR working for - amongst others BSkyB and Asda (Wal-Mart). Allan took his Westminster connections with him to Sky and kept them going at Portland. One of his connections was his friend from the Royal Grammar School in Guildford, Surrey, James Purnell, who was his best man and with whom he worked in Tony Blair's Office up until 1992. After the election that year Purnell went to work for a consultancy and ended up at the IPPR think tank, rejoining Allan in 1997 as a special adviser at No. 10 after a spell at the BBC. When Allan left to join BSkyB, Purnell stayed until 2001 'doing the groundwork' for the Communication Act 2003 and coming up with the name and idea for Ofcom with the result that the media system became more commercialised and BSkyB, amongst others, would be able to exploit the opening more easily. In 2001 Purnell became an MP, following which he hooked up with his old pal Tim Allan again, who by this time had set up Portland PR and was working for his ex-employers BSkyB.[5]
Purnell declares in the House of Commons Register of Interests, 'Speech writing consultancy work in April and June 2003 for Sky, commissioned by Portland'. Purnell is also associated with the Zionist Labour Friends of Israel (as its Chair in 2002) and is on the advisory board the Social Market Foundation.[6] After the 2005 election Purnell was promoted by Blair to Minister for Broadcasting at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. One wonders how Purnell's relationship with commercial broadcasters, and his work for Sky in particular, might colour his views on public service broadcasting?
Meanwhile Allan's Portland PR also worked for Asda earning £50,000 as part of a campaign to de-recognise the GMB union at some Asda stores. An employment tribunal in Newcastle upon Tyne in January 2006 uncovered the fact that Allan had been involved in union busting. 'A leaked email between Marie Gill Asda’s head of industrial relations (distribution) and Mr Allan on 24 December 2004, entitled "Washington – Modern Alternative", reveals that he fully endorsed Asda’s plans to sack workers refusing to accept a 10 per cent [pay] rise in return for quitting GMB.'[7]
Asda was forced to pay £850,000 to employees at its Washington distribution depot in Tyne & Wear for 'unlawfully offering financial inducements to vote away union negotiating powers.' The Tribunal found Portland's leaflets for Asda 'very hostile to trade unions'.[8] The acting GMB general secretary Paul Kenny noted
The tribunal nailed Portland and this email nails Allan as a union buster. That somebody who worked for a Labour Government should be collaborating with the human resource director of Wal-Mart/Asda to sack GMB members, solely for the reason they refused to give up their union memberships, is absurd, bizarre and disgraceful. We are sending the tribunal finding to all Labour MPs and asking them to have nothing further to do with this sell-out merchant.[9]

The GMB subsequently commissioned a report in 2006 to investigate what happened to the early special advisers, asking "Were there no depths that some associated with New Labour would stoop?"[10]

FT Summer Party

In June 2015, key lobbying figures, Allan, Charles Lewington (founder and MD of Hanover Communications) and John Lehal (founder and MD of Insight Consulting Group) attended the FT Summer Party at the Mondrian London Hotel. Also in attendance were Labour MPs [[Andy Burnham, Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds and Chris Bryant, peer Lord Mandelson, Conservative MP Sajid Javid and Mayor of London candidate Sol Campbell attended a bash at the Mondrian London hotel.[11]


Allan has donated £10,000 to Liz Kendall's campaign to succeed Ed Miliband as the next leader of the Labour Party.[12]

Contact, Resources, Notes



  1. Info-Dynamics Research, "Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government", GMB: April 2006 Briefing, p11, accessed 12.09.10
  2. Portland PR, "People", accessed 17.09.10
  3. Staff writers, "What Tony said to Rupert - and why it speaks volumes", The Independent, 18.09.05, accessed 17.09.10
  4. David Miller and William Dinan (2008) A Century of Spin - How Public Relations Became the Cutting Edge of Corporate Power, London: Pluto Press, p. 157-8
  5. Information in the foregoing paragraph from: Purnell's progress, The Guardian, 23 May 2005.
  6. The work for Portland was Registered on 23 July 2003. See the register at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=11176
  7. Barclay Sumner 'Former No 10 union-buster nailed over Asda link again' Tribune - 3 March 2006
  8. Kevin Maguire 'Such cheek by Jowell and Allan', Daily Mirror, 1 March 2006
  9. Sumner, op cit.
  10. Info-Dynamics Research, "Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government", GMB: April 2006 Briefing, p11, accessed 12.09.10
  11. David Singleton Labour MPs and lobbyists out in force at FT summer party Total Politics, 24 June 2015, accessed 24 June 2015.
  12. David Singleton Burnham laps up donations as Cooper bankrolled by author and Kendall takes lobbyist cash Total Politics, 16 July 2015, accessed 17 July 2015.