Edelman wheels in Walden
Top aide to Boris Johnson takes agency job after Number 10 blocked Whitehall role.
Edelman has appointed Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser to head up its UK lobbying arm.
Will Walden, an ex-BBC journalist, takes over the role from Gurpreet Brar who is being moved to agency’s Brussels office.
Walden was previously Johnson’s director of communications at City Hall and he ran the former London mayor’s transition team at the Foreign Office. However, Downing Street recently controversially blocked Johnson from appointing Walden as his chief of staff at the Foreign Office.
He will join Edelman in 2017 as managing director for public affairs, while Brar is moving into the role of general manager, Brussels.
In a statement, Walden said: “Edelman represents the best of public affairs with a portfolio that’s benefitted immensely from Gurpreet’s leadership. I want to build on that success, driving public affairs integration within the company’s wider UK, European and International operations, while helping to shape Edelman’s growth in what are unique and challenging times politically.
“I can’t wait to get stuck in - working with an immensely talented and innovative team, building on their ideas and - I hope - bringing my own perspective from media and government to their work.”
Edelman UK chief executive Ed Williams said: “A respected political strategist, Will has led a team of 75 people and overseen a £10m annual budget during Boris Johnson’s final term as Mayor, alongside having two decades of political broadcasting under his belt.”
In the Blair and Brown years Edelman was seen as one of the UK’s heavyweight lobbying agencies, but it was forced to “refocus” two years ago after a wave of senior departure from the public affairs practice.
However Williams pointed to other new hires such as Lucy Thomas, former deputy director of Britain Stronger in Europe, and the political strategist James Morris as evidence of the firm’s growing clout.
He added: “Will’s addition to the Edelman bench strengthens further our advisory capabilities. I want to also thank a great colleague Gurpreet who has made an enormous contribution in his role in London. I am looking forward to supporting him as he takes his talents to our Brussels office.”
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