CIPR terminates the membership of Colin Higgins

The Council of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has confirmed the recommendation of its Professional Standards Panel that Colin Higgins’ membership of the Institute be terminated retrospectively. Mr Higgins' membership lapsed in 2012.

The CIPR took action in line with its Charter Regulations after Anna Berry, a former employee of Feast Events Ltd – a company now in liquidation with debts totalling over £207,000 – raised a complaint with the Institute that she had not been paid monies owed to her, even though Ms Berry had obtained an Employment Tribunal judgement against the company.

During the testimony from the complainant, it was revealed that Mr Higgins had established and then liquidated a number of other businesses in similar fashion, including:

  • Colin Higgins & Associates Ltd
  • Oboe Marketing Communications Ltd (formerly CHA Marketing Communications Ltd)

The Panel were also made aware that Mr Higgins has been the sole director/owner of a number of companies, including:

  • JoulesPR Ltd
  • Retriever 21 Ltd
  • Colin Higgins Group Holdings Ltd

Upon hearing the evidence, the Professional Standards Panel expressed its disappointment that Mr Higgins had not lived up to his obligation to ‘respect and abide by’ the CIPR Code of Conduct, and specifically that he had failed to attend the hearing and had made no serious attempt to address the complaint.

It was also revealed that Mr Higgins had continued to claim membership of the CIPR on two of his websites until May 2014, 18 months after his membership lapsed – and therefore sought to benefit from his association with the CIPR, specifically that all members agree to uphold the CIPR Code of Conduct.

Accordingly, the Panel came to the decision to terminate Mr Higgins’ membership as he had failed to:

  • maintain the highest standards of professional endeavour, integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct (Section A.1.a);
  • deal honestly and fairly in business with employers, employees, clients, fellow professionals, other professions and the public (Section A.1.b).
Phil Morgan, Deputy Chief Executive of the CIPR
The CIPR is mandated by our Royal Charter to enforce a Code of Conduct that underpins the professionalism of our members and serves the wider public relations industry as an example of best practice. We take complaints about the professional conduct of members very seriously and will act where we find evidence that our code has not been upheld in any relevant context. This includes their business dealings, in which we expect the highest standards of integrity and honesty.
Phil Morgan, Deputy Chief Executive of the CIPR
Notes to editors

The Professional Standards Panel met on Wednesday 25 June 2014. Under the Regulations governing the disciplinary procedures, there is a window of 14 days in which to appeal, following notification of the ruling.

Terminating membership, and publishing that decision, is the most significant sanction open to the CIPR under its Regulations for disciplinary action.

For clarification

This ruling applies only to director/owner of the companies listed above and no other company under a similar name operating in public relations.

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public relations (CIPR) is the professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. With over 10,000 members involved in all aspects of PR, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the public relations profession in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies, representing its members and raising standards through education and training.