LONDON, July 6—The Times of London reported this week that “all hell has broken loose” in the London office of Weber Shandwick Worldwide, with the abrupt departure of two key executives following the decision to name former Daily Telegraph and BBC reporter Tessa Curtis head of the firm’s financial communications practice.
The departure of Charles Lankeser, chief executive of the firm’s U.K. financial communications unit, and his right-hand man Bobby Leach, overshadowed the news that Weber Shandwick has recruited yet another veteran journalist, Sunday Times political editor Michael Prescott, as vice chairman of its public affairs practice.
Prescott will provide senior counsel to clients and consulting teams on media relations and government affairs, reporting to public affairs group CEO Colin Byrne. Prescott has spent 15 years as a political journalist, including stints at the Press Association, the BBC, The Daily Mirror, Granada TV and The Sunday Times. For the past four years he has led the Sunday Times’ political reporting team and was considered a key member of that paper’s senior editorial team.
According to Byrne: “Michael is one of the UK’s most senior and respected political journalists and commentators. He has not only worked at the heart of politics but also in some of our most high profile news environments. His appointment is a terrific coup for Weber Shandwick and provides a great strategic resource for our clients in the UK.”
According to the Times report, Lankester was offered another position within the company but “whatever the job, it was lowly enough for him to resign on the spot.” Leach apparently threw his name in the ring for the CEO’s job when he heard that Lankester had resigned, but walked out “as soon as he heard Curtis had won the race.”
Both men apparently felt that Curtis, who was head of the firm’s broadcast and interactive business, lacked the experience to head the City practice, and the Times is reporting that at least three more senior executives may quit.