Portland Communications is a political consultancy and public relations agency set up in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair and Director of Communications at BSkyB. In 2012 a majority stake in Portland was purchased by Omnicom.
Portland provides communications and public affairs advice to brands and high-profile individuals.
In January 2012, Portland Communications hired James O'Shaughnessy, Prime Minister David Cameron's former director of policy, as Chief Policy Advisor. The Independent reported that O'Shaughnessy failed to inform the Whitehall committee which vets jobs for officials leaving Government, which was described by Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee of Standards in Public Life, as a "serious error of judgement". Portland also employed Cameron's former Press Secretary, George Eustice. O'Shaughnessy was elevated to the peerage in 2015.
In January 2012, MP Tom Watson discovered that Portland Communication had tried to remove references to a client's brand of lager, Stella Artois, from the wife-beater disambiguation page in Wikipedia. The beer had become known in the UK as the "wife-beater", in part because of its high alcohol content, and perceived connection with aggression and binge drinking.
In 2014 it was revealed that Portland had been hired for $150,000 by Qatar "for a communications/political push targeted at Congress and federal agencies to improve ties with the US".
Labour Party conspiracy accusations
In 2016, left-wing political website The Canary alleged that Portland staff were behind the orchestration of a "coup" against the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, after a wave of mass resignations from his front bench. Len McCluskey of British and Irish trade union Unite told Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning programme that "I'm amazed that some of the MPs have fallen into a trap." Referring to Portland Communications as a "sinister force", McCluskey said, "This is a PR company with strong links to Tony Blair and right-wing Labour MPs who've been involved in this orchestrated coup, and the coup has failed". Portland Communications denied any allegations as "a ridiculous conspiracy theory and completely untrue".
- 'Profile: Tim Allan, MD, Portland', PR Week, 13 May 2009.
- Allan, Tim (3 October 2010). "An open letter to Ed Miliband: 'If you bury the lessons of New Labour you will bury the party'". The Guardian.
- "Tim Allan on explosive growth at Portland | PR Week". www.prweek.com. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "Sun political editor George Pascoe-Watson to join Tim Allan's PR agency". the Guardian. 15 October 2009.
- "'Mark Flanagan quits for Portland digital job', PR Week, 18 November 2010".
- "Portland targets new business units as Oliver Pauley becomes UK MD | PR Week". www.prweek.com. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- Wright, Oliver (10 January 2012). "O'Shaughnessy and Portland". The Independent.
- "HM Government".
- "Business Finance Taskforce hands banking brief to Portland". PR Week.
- "Public Affairs: The Week in Lobbying". PR Week.
- Wright, Oliver (4 January 2012). "Lobbying company tried to wipe out 'wife beater' beer references". The Independent.
- "Watson's research into Portland and Bell Pottinger". tom-watson.co.uk. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "The Argus - Pubs ban Stella Artois". Archive.theargus.co.uk. 18 November 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- "Hamas-Backing Qatar Contracts Top Flight Public Relations Firm to Improve Ties With US". Algemeiner.com.
- Farey-Jones, Daniel. "Portland linked to site attacking critics of client Qatar's World Cup". www.prweek.com.
- Ross, Jamie (3 July 2016). "There's A Bizarre Conspiracy Theory That A "Blairite" PR Company Orchestrated The Rebellion Against Corbyn". BuzzFeed.
- McSmith, Andy (3 July 2016). "Union chief says PR company is 'sinister' mastermind behind Labour leadership crisis". The Independent. Retrieved 28 November 2016.