Blair's new PR chief is Monsanto's PR flak (5/8/2003)

Monsanto's public relations adviser in the UK is to become Blair's new PR chief. Multiple items follow.
Kinnock's man is new Campbell
Mail on Sunday Aug 3, 2003

Tony Blair has chosen Neil Kinnock's former PR chief as the man to replace Alastair Campbell.

David Hill, 55, is seen as Mr Blair's best chance of removing the stigma of excessive spin from New Labour after the scandal over the death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Divorcee Mr Hill has two grown-up children and is the long-term partner of No 10 media advisor Hilary Coffman. He has spent the past five years as boss of Lord Tim Bell's Good Relations PR company, advising a range of clients from supermarket group Tesco to Monsanto, the GM crop experts.

Mr Hill is said by Whitehall insiders to be the only candidate... he has always been able to boast to clients that he has direct access to No. 10.... politics was always his first love and friends say he will 'take the spin out of Downing Street' and replace it with 'hard facts'.

... As Mr Hattersley's key aide, Mr Hill helped to scrap Old Labour policies and reduce trade union domination, so he will not be seen by Left-wing union leaders as a natural ally.

... One close friend said last night: 'David Hill is the best chance Blair has of taking the demonic spinning out of New Labour.'

All Monsanto's (Wo)men
Latest (Known) Strategic Appointments
Government and Monsanto share same PR Firms
Guardian Weekly 28/2/99

David Hill, former chief spokesman for Labour, is media adviser to Monsanto in his new role as a director of Bell Pottinger Good Relations. The public relations consultancy organised meetings between Monsanto and Jack Cunningham (chair of cabinet committee on genetic engineering) and Jeff Rooker (the deputy agriculture minister). In October, Cathy McGlynn, Cunningham's former special adviser, joined Bell Pottinger.

Monsanto scores an own goal
(IATP News Posted: 12-Mar-99)

Monsanto says that it never really stood a chance of getting its case over in the UK, where it found itself introducing its products at about the time of the BSE scandal.

"We could provide one of our scientific experts with the most impressive academic background and a lifelong career in studying this area to explain how these products work and why we feel they are safe, but at the end of the day, anyone in the UK could say: 'Well, that's what they told us about BSE, and they were wrong.' It's clear that it's eroded confidence in science."

Is the situation retrievable? "Very much, yes," says David Hill, the former Labour party spokesman who is now a director of Bell Pottinger Good Relations, Monsanto's public relations adviser.

"What, I think, in the medium term can be a benefit of the frenzy of the last week is that, in a way it has been impossible to get anybody properly engaged up to now, we will begin a debate on the scientific basis of the research being done by the biotechnology companies into genetically modified food."

Monsanto: Empire
Public Relations

Monsanto has been the pioneer PR machine for the new "life sciences" industry. Its PR campaigns, primarily focussed in Europe, identified the ideological mantel the industry sought to adopt by advancing genetic engineering, and proved a disastrous set-back for the industry as a whole. Monsanto has had or is in a current contractual relationship with the following PR companies:

*    Burson Marsteller, worldwide PR company with a track-record that includes crisis management for military dictators as well as for some of the worst ecological disasters of the last decades: Three Mile Island, Exxon Valdez oil spill; BSE crisis in the UK. BM has worked for the European industry as a whole, as well as for Monsanto in particular countries.

*    Global Access Limited: Staff include a former US Ambassador to Africa. Employed by Monsanto to recruit Southern leaders (cultural, political, scientific) to undersign Monsanto's controversial "Let the Harvest Begin" advertisement, no doubt intended as the crown of its Summer-'98 public relations campaign.

*    Bivings Woodell Ltd: Crisis Management with specialisation in website presence and identity shaping.

*    Bartle Bogle Hegarty (UK): For the UK media blitz of Summer, 1998.

*    Bell Pottinger Good Relations, UK


for the relationships between Blair's government and Bell Pottinger (of which Good Relations is a division)

Tory MP for Worcester, Peter Luff, in addition to being [now former] chairman of the Commons Agriculture Select Committee, is also in the pay of Bell Pottinger, public relations and lobbying adviser to the US biotechnology giant, Monsanto.

.... several members of this committee - which is supposed to be 'policing' Government farming and food policy - were unaware of Luff's other job. Although he had included it in his Members' Interests, he had not announced it to his fellow committee members, and they would, accordingly, "call on Tuesday for a vote of no confidence in his chairmanship." But, curiously, there the story died.

There appeared to be a clear conflict of interest here, as Luff himself acknowledged: "In view of the controversial nature of Monsanto and the GM debate, I have concluded that I should have told you all sooner. I apologise to those of you who feel I was less than honest with you - this was not my intention." However, this rings rather hollow in view of the committee's report on Genetically Modified Organisms - a rather vapid one at that - which concluded that committee scrutiny of GM issues would, "serve as a useful reminder to Government of the need for transparency and informed debate on the issue."[4] It is hard to believe, in this context, that Luff's omission was a wholly innocent oversight.

... Bell Pottinger is one of the UK's main private sector propaganda machines. Its parent company, Chime Communications has as its chairman Lord Tim Bell, controversial PR guru for Margaret Thatcher. He can also boast on his CV the following illustrious clients: South Africa's National Party; the Coal Board during the 1984 miners' strike; post-Dayton, Milosevic-led Yugoslavia; and, as well as Lady Thatcher herself, three other important figures in the Pergau dam affair, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, Lord Weinstock, chief executive of GEC, and Tan Sri Armugam, head of GEC Malaysia[7].

If this doesn't put you off your GM food, Bell not only advised the pro-Pinochet runner for president, Hernan Buchi, in Chile's first elections since the coup of 1973, but also ran a £200,000 PR campaign in the UK for the General himself after his arrest.[8] For his services - for which he had already excessively rewarded himself financially[9] - Bell was knighted by Lady Thatcher and given a peerage by Tony Blair. And his moral integrity and compassion are well evidenced in his intelligent and candid comments: "Restrictions on the market are socialism and should therefore be resisted tooth and nail," and, "If you want to stamp out lobbying, it would be a bit like John Wolfendon and prostitution. He didn't stamp it out - he made it done behind closed doors. So probably the much more sensible route would be to try to make sure it is as open as possible."
"The scientists who study biotech are inclined to support its development for the same reason that workers at a Lockheed Martin plant are likely to support military spending: their jobs are on the line."


Back to the Archive