The industry body for public relations has actually launched an examination following the production of a government leaflet which included invented quotes from 2 non-existent complaintants talking up their experiences of the benefits system.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) said it had written to all its members who work at the Department for Work and Pensions to findlearn whether they had actually played any part in putting the leaflet together.
Sarah Pinch, the CIPR’s president, stated: “Wrongly developing the impression of independent, popular assistance is an ignorant and opaque technique which blatantly neglects the CIPR’s requirements of ethical conduct. It is deeply disappointing if public relations specialists allowed it to be published.”
The main document was pulled on Tuesday after the DWP confessedconfessed had comprised supposed benefits claimants “Sarah” and “Zac”. A representative stated the leaflet was produced in-house by its “communications team”.
Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, did not have any understanding of its production, according to department sources.
Related: DWP confesses inventing quotes from phony advantages complaintants for sanctions leaflet
In the leaflet, “Sarah” was quoted as saying she was pleasedenjoyed she had actually been triggered to finish her CV after a few of her benefits were withdrawn. “Zac” stated he prevented having his benefits cut because he was able to prove he had a medical facility appointment that encountered a meeting set up with his “work coach”.
The first edition of the file included photos of the two non-existent well-being claimants, which the DWP confessed were stock images in a response to a freedom of information demand from the news website Well-being Weekly.
A second edition had “Sarah” and “Zac” showndisplayed in shape, but retained their fictitious accounts. It was taken down from the department’s website on Tuesday evening amidst a hail of criticism.
The CIPR, which represents and manages public relations specialists, is accountable for enforcing its code of conduct and can assemble tribunals that have the power to remove any members discovered to have actually dedicated the most serious breaches. It can also release reprimands and suspensions of membership, in addition to negotiating settlements where possible.
A spokesman said it would wait for responses from DWP personnel before choosing what action to take. She added: “All CIPR Members are openly liable for the requirement of their professional conduct, and the conduct of those under their management. This responsibility is an important property to the public, to members and to those who utilize them.
“Truthful regard for the general public interest, delivering dependable and accurate information, and never ever deceptive customers, employers or others are crucial parts of appropriate professional practice. Any CIPR member discovered to be breaking any of our ethical concepts, will be held accountable for their actions.”
The useMaking use of the fake plaintiffs was criticised by Labour’s leadership prospects. Andy Burnham said the DWP had been “captured red-handed”, while both Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall said Duncan Smith must apologise. Jeremy Corbyn said the saga showed “how out of touch the Tories are”.
The DWP did not respondreact to a request for comment.