Tim Collins (politician and lobbyist)

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Tim Collins
Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.
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Tim Collins is chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs political division and a former UK Conservative Party MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.


Before standing for election as an MP in 1997, Collins worked as press secretary to John Major, holding the role during the 1992 election campaign, a member of the 10 Downing Street Policy Unit and as a speechwriter, notably to Margaret Thatcher, John Major, William Hague and Michael Howard.

Collins stood for the Conservative Party in Westmorland and Lonsdale, winning in both 1997 and 2001. Whilst in government he held the roles of Shadow Cabinet Office Minister between 2001 and 2002, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, 2002 to 2003 and Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills, 2004 to 2005. He was also promoted to vice chair of the Conservative Party, with special responsibility for campaigning, and, together with Andrew Lansley, was largely responsible for the direction of the Conservative's 2001 election campaign. He supported Michael Howard, Michael Ancram and Iain Duncan Smith's bids for Tory leadership. [1] He left parliament in 2005, having lost to Liberal Democrats Tim Farron.

In 2009 he was appointed chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs political division, replacing David Sowells. On Collins' appointment, Peter Bingle chairman of Bell Pottinger, said, 'It is great for us and our clients that Tim has agreed to join BPPA at this fascinating time. He is a serious person with a long and distinguished history in the Conservative Party.'[2]

In 2013, Collins was hired as a deputy director of campaign communications for the Conservative Party in anticipation of the 2015 general election. [3]

Uzbekistan government

In 2011, Collins was among a number of senior Bell Pottinger staff secretly taped by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, posing as agents for the government of Uzbekistan who wanted to cover up human rights violations and child labour problems. On the tape Collins boasted about his access to David Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn, who he used to be the boss of in Conservative Central Office, and how he had worked with David Cameron and George Osborne in the Conservative Research Department. He also said one of Bell Pottinger's biggest clients, Dyson, had phoned them at 2.30pm on a Friday to complain that many of their products were being ripped off in China, and that by Saturday David Cameron had raised the issue with the Chinese Prime Minister because they had asked him to.

Collins recommended a meeting with Daniel Finkelstein, the chief lead writer of The Times, who he said would sit down and have lunch with 'just about anyone' and then potentially mention something in a future column. Collins also talked about how his company know all sorts of 'dark arts' but did not want to write them down in case they got out. Other executives boasted about their access to William Hague and Cameron's old friend and closest No 10 adviser Steve Hilton and suggested they could manipulate Google results to hide negative coverage of humans rights violations and child labour.

Bell Pottinger quoted in excess of one million pounds for the work, but for this price they would buy a media-relations campaign, online reputation management and the public-affairs team 'working with you on a governmental level'.[4]


See: Fracking lobbying firms


  1. Tim Collins BBC, 16 October 2002, accessed 28 October 2014
  2. David Singleton Bell Pottinger Public Affairs hires former Tory MP Tim Collins PR Week, 16 October 2009, accessed 28 October 2014
  3. John Owens, Tories hire Tim Collins for deputy comms role ahead of 2015 election, PRWeek, accessed 25 July 2013, accessed 5 December 2016.
  4. Melanie Newman and Oliver Wright Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM Independent, 6 December 2011, accessed 28 October 2014