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Palace PR firm costs taxpayers £182,000

PUBLISHED: 15:43 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010

THE full extent of Alexandra Palace trustees spending on a blue-chip PR company has been revealed. More than £182,000 of taxpayers money has been spent on employing Lexington Communications since 2005 - money that critics say

Miguel Cullen

THE full extent of Alexandra Palace trustees' spending on a blue-chip PR company has been revealed.

More than £182,000 of taxpayers' money has been spent on employing Lexington Communications since 2005 - money that critics say could be better employed combating the Palace's asbestos contamination.

Lexington Communications, employed by the charitable trust which is administered by Labour-lead Haringey Council, also has Labour links. Founding partner Michael Craven has acted as chief media spokesman for the Labour Party.

Mr Craven was accused of waging a "massive disinformation campaign" by the Corporate Europe Observatory website when managing director of the Market Access PR firm in 1998.

Lexington Communications, which describes itself as "London's fastest-growing public affairs and issues management company", charged Haringey Council £108,000 in 2005, £33,200 in 2006 and £41,000 up to November 2007.

The total sum would come close to covering the £225,000 needed to clear the palace of asbestos contamination.

Clive Carter, secretary of Stroud Green Residents' Association, said: "Shouldn't the policies of the majority group be defended by the elected politicians responsible for them, rather than getting one of London's most expensive PR companies to put a gloss on what is going on?

"We need spokesmen who do not need to speak through PR firms at great public expense in order to persuade us."

Matt Cooke, chairman of the Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, said: "I agree that it's a lot of money. But developing processes are very expensive processes. An independent and robust selection process took place [to select Lexington]. A number of parties were considered." He dismissed claims of a Labour link as "rubbish".

A spokeswoman for Lexington Communications said: "Lexington is contracted to provide communications advice to the Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust to help secure the future of the palace for future generations of Londoners.

"Our team comes from a range of backgrounds, including the media, politics and business, enabling us to provide the expertise and experience required on a project such as this."

"The redevelopment costs are a matter for the trust."

broadway@hamhigh.co.uk

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