Prior to joining H&K Barbour worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to join its London public affairs practice as an associate director. Barbour reports ti Tim Fallon, who told PR Week at the time of his appoinment in November 2004, would "help lead potential new work on areas of international and domestic ethical trade and CSR".
PR Week reported that at the FCO, Barbour "was responsible for dealing with the media with regards to the Ken Bigley hostage situation in his role as senior press officer. He also helped establish the Global Citizenship Unit as part of an ethical foreign policy initiative by then Secretary of State Robin Cook."  (Sub req'd).
In an interview with The Guardian in May 2005, Barbour defended the company working to polish the image of Uganda. "What we are doing is encouraging dialogue between the Ugandan government and people like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Oxfam. It's not about spinning a different version of the truth, its about making sure that the Ugandans are having the right conversations with the right people," he said.