The story so far: Clare Curran, Labour MP for Dunedin South and former PR professional, blogged on the connection between John Key and the evil global PR firm Hill & Knowlton who 21 years ago were responsible for the first Iraq war (I paraphrase). I pointed out that not only is H&K’s reach global but so is that of its parent company WPP, which controls 20 media-type firms in Auckland and six in Wellington, at least one of which has several large public-type clients, and said:
I just hope that none of WPP’s companies has ever had Labour as a client. That would be awkward.
Since then, some of the people who have commented on Ms Curran’s post have shown that they are at least as well-informed as she is, perhaps even more so. One links to this Hansard page which records Jim Anderton, Minister of Fisheries in the last Labour government, saying on 30 March 2007 that his Ministry had paid H&K $6,638 (exclusive of GST) in the year to 30 June 2003.
Another commenter links to this speech by Charles Chauvel on 11 October 2007 in which he celebrated the sterling qualities of the Ombudsmen at the time, including:
Beverley Wakem, a former chief executive of Radio New Zealand, a former president of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, a former executive chair of Hill and Knowlton (New Zealand) Ltd. . .
Yet another gives more detail on Wakem’s – and hence H&K’s – close connections with Labour:
Beverley Wakem was appointed Ombudsman on 1 March 2005 and Chief Ombudsman on 23 April 2008 by the Labour Government under Helen Clark. Previously she was reappointed to the Higher Salaries Commission in 2001 and again in 2004 by PM Clark’s government. Ms Wakem’s background is in broadcasting, public relations and consulting. From 1996 to 1997, Ms Wakem was Executive Chairman of Hill & Knowlton New Zealand.
Say what? All of this happened on Helen Clark’s watch? Surely, every bit as much as John Key, she must have been aware of H&K’s sinister, war-mongering past.
The questions arise: what did she know, and when did she know it?