Veteran unionist peer Lord Laird has said that he is not back in business, despite a London PR firm listing him as one of its two main figures.
The former Ulster Unionist declared a link to Biscuit Public Relations in the House of Lords’ Register of Members’ Interests, but the entry was removed last Wednesday.
When contacted by the News Letter yesterday (Monday), Lord Laird said he was surprised that he was still listed on the website of the firm and said that the entry had been removed from his Register of Interests in the Lords.
In December, the House of Lords suspended the peer for four months after he told undercover reporters that he could circumvent Lords’ rules on declaring interests. In a separate BBC sting operation, the peer indicated that he would use the promise of a trip to Fiji as a “bribe” in order to get people to join a Parliamentary group.
He told undercover reporters: “I’ll deny having said this, but it’s a bribe.”
Lord Laird accepted the Lords’ punishment but denied wrongdoing.
Biscuit PR, which is owned by German-born PR woman Sabine Raabe, describes Lord Laird as “a dapper, charismatic Gentleman Biscuit” and adds: “This is one man you want shouting from your corner.”
Ms Raabe is separately listed with the House of Lords as one of the peer’s members of staff. In her online CV, Ms Raabe says: “Through my lobbying work I have insight into government policy and the political arena which is invaluable to organisations operating in regulated, emerging, controversial and ethical business environments.”
Yesterday, Lord Laird said that he was no longer linked to the firm. The peer said that he was now interested in the theory of PR rather than the practice.
“I don’t do any professional PR — I haven’t for about one-and-a-half or two years,” he said.
The peer said that he “used to give them a bit of advice” but hadn’t done for some time, partly due to ill health. He added: “The world of PR has moved on — I’ve spent enough time in PR.”
In March, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations terminated his membership over the incident.