John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

PR men say Dirty Politics claims don't hurt

Carrick Graham
Carrick Graham

Carrick Graham's new business partners say that "Dirty Politics" allegations about Graham have not hurt their new agency - Graham, Brewer, Simich and Associates.

The company was formed in mid 2014, but has faced a baptism of fire with Graham taking a central role in a controversy which erupted late last month.

Graham has been at the centre of a storm over allegations in the Nicky Hager book "Dirty Politics" based on emails hacked from the computer of Cameron Slater, a long time friend of Graham - and apparently a business associate in some public relations campaigns.

Graham - who is the son of former Justice minister Sir Douglas Graham - launched a new PR company with his friends Ricardo Simich - the son of former Tamaki MP Clem Simich - and Cameron Brewer.

Auckland Councillor and Carrick Graham colleague Cameron Brewer. Photo / Michael Craig
Auckland Councillor and Carrick Graham colleague Cameron Brewer. Photo / Michael Craig

Brewer an Auckland Councilor, says that he works at the new agency " part time."

Despite widespread publicity which has disrupted the election campaign, Brewer and Simich both insist that publicity has not hurt their new venture called GBSA.

"I am confident that (GBSA) is not implicated in any way," Brewer said.

"My business partner is widely respected as a great operator who has done some good work for many people over many years."

Ricardo Simich said that clients had indicated they were not concerned "and some had the grace to not even mention it."

Media attention has focused on the apparent relationship between Graham, Slater and Justice minister Judith Collins.

A key issue is whether there is any link between Collins and Cameron Slater and alleged attacks on financial market regulators.

But the hacked emails appear also appear to point to the role of the Slater's Whale Oil as what has been described overseas as a "PR blog" that attacked businesses who compete with public relations clients.

Slater has said that he has not been paid for his comments. Graham is a central player in the controversy through his ownership of Facilitate Communications whose clients included the Food and Grocery Council.

The Council represents some of New Zealand's biggest companies and is led by former National MP Katherine Rich.

Nicky Hager's book "Dirty Politics" alleges FGC Chief executive Katherine Rich worked with the pair.

Yesterday an FGC spokesperon declined to discuss whether the organisation still had a relationship with Facilitate insisting that as a private organisation it was under no obligation to discuss its public relations arrangements with news media.

Graham said: "I do not discuss who my or our clients are, nor the work we may or may not do for them. Both Facilitate Communications and GBSA are private companies, and that is all there is to it."

Meanwhile the public relations industry body has decided it does not need to take any remedial action to its code of ethics in the wake of the Dirty Politics book and revelations about alleged PR tactics.

The national council for Prinz national council met last week after president Bruce Fraser called for an urgent review of its code of ethics.

Fraser said that there had probably been too little understanding about the growing role of blogs in public relations.

But in the aftermath Prinz chief executive Simone Bell said the national council had decided industry ethics were "robust".

"There is no need for change, " she said.

Graham is not a member of Prinz and is not subject to its code of ethics.

- NZ Herald

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