Weber Shandwick (UK)
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
The British subsidiary of the public relations firm Weber Shandwick Worldwide.
Documents released under FOI, show that Weber Shandwick worked for BNFL in 2004 and 2005. In February 2006, the PR magazine O'Dwyer's also reported that Weber Shandwick was promoting BNFL's move to sell Westinghouse Electric to Japan's Toshiba for $5.4 billion. U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez had lobbied UK officials in favour of General Electric's bid for Westinghouse.
Working towards a nuclear new build
Since 2004, Weber Shandwick has been working with BNFL towards a new nuclear build in the UK. Part of this strategy has been to position nuclear as clean, safe, secure and climate-friendly (also see BNFL). By the Autumn of 2004, a year before the government annnounced its "official review," Weber and BNFL were working on thier own one:
- "To secure from the review a meaningful commitment to a programme of nuclear new build, underpinned by commitments to:
- Provide the necessary market and fiscal framework for replacement build;
- Begin a programme or review which deals with the question of disposal of nuclear waste from replacement build;
- Analyse and bring in the changes needed in the planning and regulation regime which to enable speedy decision-making and construction".
We believe in the cause
One question people ask is whether PR consultants are neutral on nuclear and just provide professional advice. One email from Weber to BNFL from September 2004 answers this. It said: "As you know, you have a group of people over here who believe in this cause - we would love to do this work, and already feel excited about it".
Gather intelligence on the climate sceptics
One of the main PR strategies of the nuclear lobby over the last three years has been to use the issue of climate change to push for a resumption in nuclear. The argument they have put forward is that nuclear is a low emitter of greenhouse gases and should therefore be used as a key policy option to fight climate change.
But what about those who deny climate change? They could, by default, undermine the case for nuclear: In September 2004 a letter appeared in The Times signed by Lord Lawson, and known climate sceptics Wilfred Beckerman as well as Julian Morris from the International Policy Network, amongst others that attacked the need for action on climate:
It said: "Sir, Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition made major speeches last week on climate change and the policies that are supposedly required to deal with it (reports, September 14 and 15). It appears that, in this area, Tony Blair and Michael Howard are of one mind. They hold the same alarmist view of the world, and call for much the same radical -and costly programme of action ... There are no solid grounds for assuming, as Messrs Blair and Howard do, that global warming demands immediate and far-reaching action".
On reading this, Weber Shandwick emailed BNFL:
"Times letter today from Nigel Lawson and others which seems to be pooh-poohing climate change - anyone know anything about where this lot have popped up from?"
"Any intellgence (sic) gratefully received before we set to work here at WS end trying to find out what's going on..." 
Good news in Labour's manifesto
When Labour's 2005 Manifesto was published, the spin doctors were quick to pick up on the following paragraph:
"We have a major programmme to promote renewable energy, as part of a strategy of having a mix of energy sources from nuclear power stations to clean coal to micro generators."
Weber Shandwick sent a note to BNFL:
" To me, at least, this is a step towards a declared pro-nuclear position".
"Wow...good news indeed".
- Colin Byrne Chief Executive Officer, Weber Shandwick - UK - clients include BNFL
- David Yelland Senior Vice Chairman, Weber Shandwick - UK
- Sally Ward Vice Chairman, Weber Shandwick Europe
- Anglian Water
- COLT Telccom
- Corporation of London
- Eli Lilly
- General Council of the Bar
- Meat & Livestock Commission
- Merrill Lynch
- Weber Shandwick
- Weber Shandwick Public Affairs T: 44 20 7067 0000 Michael Prescott Managing Director, Corporate and Strategic Media Relations
- Weber Shandwick Square Mile, T: 44 20 7067 0700
- Financial Relations Board T: 44 20 7067 0745
- Rogers & Cowan T: 44 20 7067 0276 Matt Neale Director
- KRC Research T: 44 20 7067 0000 Phil Riggins Managing Director
14 Gray's Inn Road
London, WC1X 8WS
Phone: 44 20 7067 0000
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- ↑ "Weber Shandwick Gudes Nuke Deal", O'Dwyers PR Daily, February 6, 2006. (Sub required).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 NewBuild Proposal, Email from Weber Shandwick to BNFL, September 16, 2004.
- ↑ Email from Weber Shandwick to BNFL, September 24, 2004.
- ↑ Email from Weber Shandwick to BNFL, April 13, 2005.
- P. Simpson, "WSW Picks Up BNFL Public Affairs Work", PR Week, 22 April, 2002.
- Antony Barnett, Ned Temko and Gaby Hinsliff, "Lobbying firm linked to academies row", The Observer, April 23, 2006.
- "Wind PR firm gives birth to national anti-wind farm campaign," New Energy Focus (UK), June 16, 2009.