Internal dispute at WPP as no action taken over Grahame Morris and Barton Deakin

Following a report by Mumbrella on 22 April regarding political advisor Grahame Morris’ comments regarding trans people, there is widespread displeasure within WPP at the lack of action taken by the holding group.

Mumbrella has been made aware of internal emails between both WPP-owned political advisory firms, Barton Deakin and Hawker Britton, in which a representative from the former said the Labor-aligned firm “no longer wanted to be associated with the former” while Morris remained its employee.

Morris (right) appearing alongside founder of Hawker Britton, Bruce Hawker (left) on Sky News Australia last week

In the same email correspondence, Barton Deakin acknowledged Morris’ comments were “unacceptable” and not aligned with its values, as well as noting Morris conceded the comments were not consistent with his or the firm’s values.

Despite this, Barton Deakin is yet to respond to Mumbrella’s request for comment on the matter. WPP also told Mumbrella it would not be commenting further on the story.

WPP initially told Mumbrella: “We do not agree with Mr. Morris’s views”, however the group will not provide a further response or comment publicly, or to Mumbrella. Mumbrella understands a decision is yet to be made at a global level.

Mumbrella reported last week Morris’ position at Barton Deakin was under review, but there has still been no action taken over his role.

Mumbrella has learned several senior figures at WPP in Australia are reportedly unhappy with Morris as of yet retaining his position following the comments. Names mentioned by a source include Ogilvy Network CEO, Sally Kissane and COO, Dave Sayer. WPP declined to comment on these reports, and Kissane has not responded to a direct request for comment from Mumbrella.

Barton Deakin is understood to have confirmed its position regarding Morris to Rose Herceg, WPP president in AUNZ. Mumbrella approached WPP for comment from Herceg, however the company again said it had nothing more to add.

Last week, on 26 April on Sky News Australia’s Afternoon Agenda election coverage, both Grahame Morris and the founder of Hawker Britton, Bruce Hawker appeared to give commentary on the ongoing federal election.

The internal distancing and request for “no further relations” between the two firms again raises questions regarding WPP’s ownership of two partisan political advisory firms.

Mumbrella originally reported on the internal investigation into Morris following comments made on both ABC News and Network Ten’s The Project.


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