Labour looks into Muirhead hiring

The Labour Party is investigating the hiring of M&C Saatchi partner Bill Muirhead as director of communications for Millennium Central, the body which is to run the Millennium Exhibition.

Shadow heritage secretary Jack Cunningham is making enquiries to see if proper procedures have been followed in appointing Muirhead after Marketing Week revealed he was joining the organisation (February 14).

Cunningham says: “It seems unusual that an appointment to a wholly-owned government company has been made without the post being advertised.”

Last week, Millennium Central said Muirhead was being brought in on a full-time basis and would be working at the organisation “for as long as it takes” to establish the structure needed to set up the exhibition.

However, this week Millennium Central backtracked on that position and now says Muirhead will be working part-time as a voluntary consultant and that he will not be paid.

The move followed Marketing Week enquiries into whether proper procedures had been followed for the appointment, such as drawing up a shortlist of candidates. This is obligatory for a publicly funded body such as Millennium Central, which is using National Lottery and sponsorship funds to set up the exhibition.

A spokeswoman from Cunningham’s office says: “We heard he was on secondment and this alone raises cause for concern. As he is director of communications, that doesn’t seem to fit with being part-time. It is obvious that someone is paying him.”

Muirhead was unavailable for comment.

News Analysis, page 25

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