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PR firm costs taxpayers $630,000 in fees

An international PR firm has cost taxpayers around $630,000 in retainer fees alone over the past 4½ years.

The contract — signed by the former One Bermuda Alliance government and still in place under the new administration — has a retainer of $11,748 a month plus expenses.

A spokesman for the Premier's Office said the firm had worked on “public relations matters in the UK and Europe”.

Staff from London-based Cubitt Consulting were listed as contacts on a Government press release last month on the massive data leak from law firm Appleby. The spokesman said: “Cubitt's details were included at the bottom of the press release as the original Appleby enquiries emanated from overseas.”

He said that Cubitt provided services “on an ongoing basis”.

The spokesman declined to detail specific work the firm had done for Bermuda. He said: “Cubitt has provided public relations services on a number of matters.

“These include issues related to the blacklists promulgated out of Europe since 2013, in defence of Bermuda in relation to other reputational issues in Europe since 2013 and, with regard to general press relations in the UK and Europe since 2013.”

Former premier Michael Dunkley said the firm was hired under his predecessor Craig Cannonier and former finance minister Bob Richards.

Mr Richards said: “Cubitt was retained to assist Bermuda with the PR nightmare that we found in the UK when we took office as it related to reputational damage primarily related to the tax haven issue.”

Several UK-based firms bid for the contract, Mr Richards said. He added: “Cubitt assists Government with the UK press and also helps Bermuda to contact thought leaders in and out of the UK government apparatus.”

Mr Richards said the monthly retainer paid to Cubitt was “well within the normal range for such services”.

A description of the contract in the Bermuda Official Gazette in August 2015 said that Cubitt would work with the media to “leverage current dialogue and issues to enhance understanding of Bermuda as a vital asset for the UK's international competitiveness and business offering”.

The spokesman added: “All inherited contracts are under review by the new administration.”

Bob Richards: “Cubitt was retained to assist with PR nightmare” (Photograph David Skinner)

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Published November 08, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 08, 2017 at 6:14 am)

PR firm costs taxpayers $630,000 in fees

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