Tuesday 16 December 2008

Paying for spin

As part of its coverage of AMs expenses, the Western Mail drew attention to the monies paid by two local Tory AMs to a company (Hart Media Services) owned by the Tory Parliamentary candidate and his wife for "press work". (I think they got their figures slightly wrong – I make the total paid £4810 rather than £4615.)

The company seems to have started working for one of the AMs in May 2007 (quite interesting in itself, given that the company appears not to have been established until 14th June!), and for the other from July 2007. In both cases, there seems to be a standard monthly payment being made on a regular basis.

Labour AM, Alun Davies, has rightly queried the propriety of the arrangement, arguing that this is a case of using taxpayers' money for the purposes of "funding a PR company, which has clear links to a Tory candidate to publicise the work of Conservative AM’s in West Wales".

However, anyone perusing the local media would know that almost every statement issued by the AM carries a quote from the parliamentary candidate, and almost every photo of the AM somehow manages to include the parliamentary candidate as well. If this is the 'press work' being paid for by the AM's allowance, then it is being used not just to promote the AMs, but also to promote the parliamentary candidate himself. I find it hard to believe that that is within the letter, let alone the spirit, of the rules.


Paul said...

I'm just 'looking into' the 'Hart Empire'!

Interesting to note there is no trace of this company having a website, or that it does work for anyone else.

I come across all these people at various events and receive 'those' PRs and pics. However, once I smell a rat, I keep burrowing!

My 'alter ego' may well be blogging on this issue soon, especially after hearing from an eyewitness, that the PCC enjoyed the sport of shooting small birds during the recent snow.

His 'manifesto' looks like a template from CPHQ with the instructions: Don't forget to insert your own details in the relevant boxes before print.

The cynical Cat may be found at:

PS Found your blog via my search for info on HMS.

John Dixon said...


I suspect that there are no other customers, but i'd be happy to be proved wrong.

Interesting blog by the way; I'll add you to my blogroll.