North East morning paper The Journal splashes on '£23K SPIN-BILL IN DEATH PROBE", with the strap "PR move disgusting - MP'. Unfortunately the Journal story is only available online to paying subscribers but here's a flavour...
"Council bosses paid more than £20,000 for a "reputation consultant" as they prepared a report on the killing of a pensioner in a North East care home.
"Newcastle Council spent £22,929 of taxpayers' money to employ Sue Stapely to advise them on public relations over the investigation into the death of 93-year-old Olive Garvie.
"Mrs Garvie was battered to death by 83-year-old May Thrower at Coniscliffe Residential Home in Jemond, Newcastle, in February last year.
"It was later discovered that Thrower had previously spent 17 years in a secure hospital and had past convictions for violent assaults - yet crucial reports on her past had been lost or destroyed."
Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins is quoted as saying: "It (the payment to Stapely) brings shame to everyone involved, and everyone who set this up should get out of public life. It is absolutely disgusting."
Council leader Peter Arnold counters: "In a difficult situation like the one we were faced with, you've got to get the right kind of advice and that often can be quite expensive. Sometimes there is an undue sensitivity about whether public funds should be spent for this kind of purpose."
Spending so much money on advice was a gift to political opponents; what it bought was, among other things, a pretty damning verdict in the Journal's leader column.
The paper condemns the council for bringing in an image consultant when what was needed was an explanation of what exactly went on, of how the tragedy could happen.
It Journal's key question is simple: "What, exactly, was wrong with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"
The clear implication is that whatever else it might have been, Stapely's prime role was not to add clarity to the investigation.
Maybe the Journal is wrong - but it is hard to make a countercase when what exactly she did to earn the money remains a mystery; it is 'commercially sensitive.'
Yet again, proof that public relations is not very good at public relations...