Charity boss Christine Pratt seeks help from Max Clifford

Woman at centre of Brown bullying row tries to combat damaging revelations

The charity boss who said she had been contacted by Downing Street staff complaining of bullying is to be represented by the publicist Max Clifford after being attacked for making the claims, it has emerged.

Christine Pratt, chief executive of the National Bullying Helpline (NBH), kicked off a major political spat after revealing that her charity had received calls from members of Gordon Brown's office. However, four of the five patrons of her charity subsequently resigned, arguing that Mrs Pratt's revelations had undermined the confidentiality of the charity's helpline.

Unwelcome media attention also turned on Mrs Pratt herself, revealing links between her charity and a business run by her husband, as well as her own involvement in an employment tribunal. Trustees of the charity met last night to discuss the row, while the Charity Commission is investigating several complaints made against the NBH.

Mr Clifford said last night that he had provisionally agreed to work with Mrs Pratt free of charge, provided she could offer proof that she had received emails from members of staff working within Downing Street. "My first instinct is there are always two sides to a story," he told The Independent. "Right now, it is a very hot story and as to the reality of it, there are only one or two people who really know what has gone on. This is a very serious subject."

The publicist, who has represented the likes of Mohamed al-Fayed and Jade Goody, said that he had instructed both Mrs Pratt and her husband, David, to gather all the evidence they could supporting her public claims. They are reviewing thousands of emails sent to the charity.

Mrs Pratt entered the row on Sunday evening after Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, made a robust defence of Mr Brown in the light of separate allegations of bullying by the Prime Minister made in a book by the journalist Andrew Rawnsley. However, Mrs Pratt subsequently seemed surprised by the backlash she created. She has since stated that none of those who contacted her charity accused Mr Brown of bullying, adding that he may not have even been aware of their complaints.

Sarah Brown leapt to her husband's defence yesterday, arguing he was a "decent man" who was not guilty of bullying or harassing staff. "What you see is what you get," she told GMTV. "People have heard me talk about him and they probably know everything that I would have to say about him. I know him as a strong, hard-working, decent man and he isn't anything else."

Gaffe-prone immigration minister Phil Woolas yesterday described the charity boss as a "prat of a woman". Mr Woolas said that Mrs Pratt's comments against the Prime Minister had clearly backfired on her. "It's a tough business, politics. It's 18, 20 hours a day that people like the Prime Minister work," he told London radio station LBC 97.3.

"I think this attack on him by this prat of a woman down in – where's she from, Swindon? – I think that's backfiring on her."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions