Opinion Leader Research

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.


Opinion Leader Research is a research-based consultancy. The company says they are “experts in influence, deliberative engagement, dialogue and insight”. They “believe that great research has the power to achieve great things – from challenging conventional thinking to increasing public participation”.

Wikipedia describes Opinion Leader as a market research company that uses a range of qualitative, deliberative and quantitative methods. The company was founded in 1992, and in 1998 became part of Chime Communications plc, the holding company for several public relations, research, and advertising and marketing companies. [1]

Nuclear Consultation

In September 2007 Opinion Leader ran a consultation exercise on behalf of the Government at a number of venues around the UK after an earlier consultation was found by the High Court to have been fixed. The Court ruled in February 2007 that the first consultation was "seriously flawed" and "manifestly inadequate and unfair". In the second consultation selected members of the public were asked their views on nuclear power.

But Britain's leading environmental groups withdraw from the second consultation because, they said, the government had failed to fairly reflect the arguments in presentations that were given to more than 1,100 members of the public at the consultation meetings. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and Green Alliance, claimed the government was distorting the evidence. [2] Greenpeace made a formal complaint about Opinion Leader Research to the Market Research Standards Board. Thirteen months later, on October 16th 2008, the Board issued its ruling in which it found that the consultation on nuclear power, conducted by Opinion Leader Research used information that “was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced [and] which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer." [3]

Breach of Code of Conduct

The Board said in its ruling that the public consultation was in breach of the official industry Code of Conduct which provides that market research companies "must take reasonable steps to ensure that Respondents are not led towards a particular answer." The Board concluded that "this was not a minor or trivial breach." OLR are now required "to take corrective action with regard to the process that resulted in the breach in this case".

Following the adjudication Viki Cooke, Joint Chief Executive of Opinion Leader said:

“We do not accept the MRS ruling, which we believe to be incorrect. We do not believe that the MRS - a market research trade body - is competent to assess these new forms of deliberative engagement. Instead we have been involved in developing new guidelines in collaboration with a team of experienced practitioners, commissioners and evaluators - the MRS has not been involved in this. [4]

Gordon Brown's Pollster

The OLR person responsible for the conduct of the consultation - Deborah Mattinson - is also Joint Chief Executive of the Company. She is an advisor and the leading private pollster to Gordon Brown. She is frequently described as a friend of Gordon Brown or Gordon Brown’s ‘focus group guru’. [5]

According to the Observer, OLR was investigated by the Market Research Society for its links to Labour, after a complaint from the Conservative Party, [6] but cleared of any wrongdoing. [7] Mattinson regularly advises the Labour Party during General Elections, but OLR also receives many contracts from the Government. Blogger, Guido Fawkes has highlighted a conflict of interest between director Deborah Mattinson's work for Gordon Brown’s charity, The Smith Institute, and Opinion Leader Research’s contracts for the Government. [8]


Website: http://www.opinionleader.co.uk/


  1. Wikipedia, accessed October 2008.
  2. J.Vidal, 'New nuclear row as green groups pull out', The Guardian, 7 February 2007.
  3. Greenpeace Press Release, 17 October 2008.
  4. Opinion Leader Press Release, 16 October 2008.
  5. 0.Marre,'Pendennis', The Observer, 28 September 2008.
  6. O.Marre, 'Pendennis', The Observer, 15 April 2007.
  7. O.Marre, 'Pendennis', The Observer, 29 April 2007.
  8. G.Fawkes, Gordon's pollster Deborah Mattinson slammed for dodgy polling, Order-Order.com 17 October 2008.