Ad agency fury as Francis Maude’s old firm goes on government list

Claims of impropriety after shortlist includes company where Cabinet Office Minister was non-executive chairman

The Government has been accused of “serious impropriety” over the way it awards £520m of contracts to provide public information advertising on issues like drink driving, stopping smoking and healthy eating.

Advertising agencies are furious at the Cabinet Office’s handling of its Communications Roster, after a company where Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude was non-executive chairman won two prized places on the shortlist.

There is also anger that another place on the roster – a list of agencies approved to receive government work – has gone to a company which recently appointed a former senior official from the Central Office of Information (COI), the body that used to oversee the bidding process. Mr Maude closed the COI in 2011, saying: “This government has slashed unnecessary spending on communications.”

After a bidding process overseen by the Cabinet Office for a new “framework” of public information agencies, places on the roster for digital advertising (worth £120m of the total) and direct marketing (£160m) were won by the Devon-based agency Bray Leino, owned by The Mission Group, where Mr Maude is a former non-executive chairman.

A spokesman for Mr Maude said: “He has had no involvement with Mission Group for three years and had no knowledge that this framework was being set up.”

Another of the direct marketing slots was won by the Lateral Group, which recently employed Marc Michaels, former director of direct marketing at the COI. One rival complained: “It is like the examiner writing the questions and then taking the exam – to get 100 per cent marks.” Lateral Group declined to comment.

Other agencies are angry that the roster seems to have been selected solely on the basis of price, rather than considering the expertise accrued by some advertising groups, such as Leo Burnett, which was left off the shortlist despite a long record of producing road-safety campaigns. One agency head said: “Changing ingrained behaviour, such as over-eating and smoking, is not easy work. You need a quality team and experience because lives are at stake.”

Labour MP Helen Goodman said: “Francis Maude certainly has questions to answer about what has happened since his doctrinaire decision to close down the COI. It looks as if there may be serious improprieties in the [Government] selection of the roster. It’s very important on issues such as road safety and people’s health that campaigns are really effective. This is what will produce the best value for money.”  There is no suggestion that Mr Maude was personally involved in the roster process.

Complaints have been made to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, which is in talks with the Cabinet Office over the roster process. “Public service procurement is a complicated affair and...established practices are not designed with advertising businesses in mind,” it said.

The Cabinet Office said: “The Government Procurement Service operates transparent and fair tendering processes that ensure we are extracting the maximum value from every pound spent.”

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments