Dear Mr. Galbraith,
Thank you for your letter of 21 December 2004.
I note with interest that Burson-Marsteller has no objections to binding rules on lobbying at the EU institutions. So far, the reactions from the PR/PA and lobbying industry in Brussels to our open letter have been quite negative (see http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbydebate.html). If I interpret your letter right, Burson-Marsteller takes a different position, but please correct me if I am wrong.
Talking about corrections, you write that our website and publications contain “many factual errors” with respect to Burson-Marsteller and your firm’s clients. You ask us to publish your letter on our website “in the interest of transparency”. That is no problem: we will publish your letter together with this response before the end of this week. We are also most willing to correct any factual errors concerning your company. But the two instances of what you describe as factual errors certainly do not equal ‘many’. Therefore, I would appreciate if you could send us a full list of the alleged factual errors concerning your company that you have found on our website or in our publications.
With regard to the two points that you raise in your letter:
We already received a letter from that organisation, and I will be meeting Mr. Dawson of the BSEF on 19 January, to discuss our organisations’ different views and positions.
You write: “Your choice not to undertake simple internet research is the reason that it took you “considerable research effort” to discover that BSEF was the trade association for the Bromine Industry – something clear to anyone who took the trouble to visit BSEF’s website!”
Let me first assure you that we did do our basic internet research. We noted that the home page of the BSEF has been modified quite recently – in such a way that it now indeed clearly states that the BSEF is fully sponsored by the bromine industry. In the past this link to the industry was much less evident. In printed material distributed by BSEF, or in publications of BSEF sponsored scientific research, the link between BSEF and the bromine industry may still escape most readers. We feel that such selective transparency justifies our description of BSEF as a corporate front group.
2. Mr Earnshaw’s function at Burson-Marsteller
We may indeed have misinterpreted Mr. Earnshaw’s title of ‘managing director’ at Burson-Marsteller (see e.g. http://www.publicaffairs.ac/inindex.php?in=/community/farfdirectory.php?alpha=E or http://www.european-voice.com/downloads/2004TheNewEuropeBrochure.pdf). We assumed that Mr. Earnshaw, like managing directors in most companies, was responsible for the day-to-day management of the office. Your letter clarifies that this is not the case, and that you have been running the BM Brussels office for the past five years. In future editions of the Lobby Planet guidebook we are happy to spell out Mr. Earnshaw’s exact position at Burson-Marsteller (managing director).
Looking forward to your response, and with my best wishes for the New Year,
Corporate Europe Observatory