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Lobbying firm Deryn at centre of new row

19 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Deryn nameplate.

Martin Shipton

The chairman of the UK’s voluntary regulatory body for lobbyists has been suspended after a Welsh lobbying firm complained that he should not have ordered an inquiry into allegations made against it.

Information rights activist Jamie Roberts made a complaint to the Public Affairs Board (PAB) about posts to X made by Cathy Owens and Nerys Evans – both directors of Cardiff-based Deryn Consulting – in the wake of the jailing of former Welsh lobbyist Daran Hill for child pornography offences.

Ms Owens and Ms Evans both suggested without evidence that people close to Mr Hill had covered up his crimes. Mr Roberts complained that by making such unsubstantiated insinuations, the pair may have acted in breach of the PAB’s professional code, which places a high emphasis on honesty, transparency, and professional ethics.

The PAB’s chair Liam Herbert engaged on the body’s behalf an independent adjudicator to investigate Mr Roberts’ complaint. Mr Roberts was told later that the adjudicator had produced a report concluding that there was no case to answer.

Complained

Nation.Cymru has established that Ms Owens – who sits on the executive committee of the PAB – and Ms Evans then complained about Mr Herbert, saying he should not have called in an independent adjudicator to investigate what they considered to be a vexatious complaint. Mr Herbert has since been suspended pending an investigation into his conduct – a move which has met with opposition within the PAB from those who believe that he handled the original complaint properly.

One PAB insider said: “It’s not right to have suspended the chair for doing the right thing in referring the complaint to an independent adjudicator. It sends a very bad message to anyone considering standing as chair of the PAB in the future. Who will want to take the role when they can find themselves suspended in such a way?”

The PAB comes under the umbrella of the  Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), the world’s largest professional PR body.

‘Fobbed off’

Mr Roberts said: “For five months, I’ve been striving to have the PRCA take my complaints seriously, but I’ve been consistently fobbed off, and now the reason is clear. They were merely defending Deryn. When chair Liam Herbert attempted to initiate a proper investigation, they responded by suspending him. It’s evident that the PRCA is not fit for purpose when it comes to upholding their own code. Instead of enforcing standards, they appear to be solely focussed on promoting and defending lobbyists, even the most controversial ones like Deryn.

“I am appalled by the PRCA and its officers’ conduct. Instead of holding wrongdoers accountable, they seem to protect and shield them, undermining the Public Affairs Board. Deryn, known for its controversial lobbying activities and involvement in multiple scandals in Wales, should have been thoroughly investigated. Liam Herbert’s suspension, following his call for a full investigation into my complaint, points to PRCA officers acting in Deryn’s interest. The refusal to publish the adjudicator’s report and details of the investigation further raises questions.

“Cathy Owens’ history of bullying behaviour in the Welsh Government, where complaints against her were upheld [when she was a special adviser], now seems to extend to her influence over the PRCA and its treatment of Herbert.

“To restore confidence in the PRCA, the following immediate steps are essential. Reinstatement of Liam Herbert as PAB chair, a full independent investigation into both Deryn’s conduct and my complaints, and the publication of all relevant reports.

“In the long term, stricter regulations and penalties are imperative. I believe we need stricter regulation of lobbyists in Wales. The PRCA is failing in its duty to uphold standards, focussing instead on protecting its members. Their actions in covering up for Deryn are indefensible.”

Conflicts of interest

Mr Roberts has made a further complaint to the PAB, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest involving Steve Brooks,  a commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales who is also a senior adviser for Deryn, which acts for renewable energy companies.

A spokesman for PRCA said: “PRCA will always uphold its codes of conduct. Jamie Roberts’ first complaint was fully investigated by an independent adjudicator, under the code, who judged that there was no case to answer. We won’t comment on any live investigations.”

Deryn directors Cathy Owens and Nerys Evans were invited to comment, but did not do so.


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Annibendod
Annibendod
6 months ago

Owens is a Welsh Labour apologist and shill. She is also a particularly nasty piece of work IMHO. As the article mentions, she has form – all searchable.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Aha! Well that explains it. What is Deryn then? Welsh Labour’s securitate?

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago

This Deryn company really does seems to be a bit dodgy. I’m not sure what exactly it is or what it does, but it seems to have a way of trying to silence anyone who it has blacklisted, for whatever reason.

Nia James
Nia James
6 months ago

Deryn control the Senedd. Immensely powerful lobbyists and influencers.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Nia James

It doesn’t control the Senedd but it has unreasonable, excessive influence because the politicians and servants who procure its services are too lazy or incompetent or both. Marketing wonks might call it “finding a need” In this case it’s more like “finding the needy and maxing out on their dependency”

Richard
Richard
6 months ago

Wow 🥹. Better than a TV soap ✔️
The “ woke “ brigade in action ⏰

Gaynor
Gaynor
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Nothing to do with woke – Deryn has a terrible reputation and seems to be involved in too many scandals to make it all “a strange coincidence. “

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