Bell Pottinger’s founder claimed it was ‘curtains’ for the PR company as he examined his phone double during a motor vehicle accident interview – and insisted he will take no responsibility for the South Africa scandal. The PR man, who founded the business in 1988 but stood down this past year, made the feedback yesterday evening on Newsnight as he refused to accept any blame for the scandal engulfing the business. Within an excruciating six-minute interview, the 75-year-old also checked his mobile phone double when it started ringing loudly on air.
Lord Bell had gone on the show to go over the company as it was stripped of its trade body regular membership for stoking ‘racial tensions’ in South Africa with a controversial campaign. The marketing campaign was for Oakby Capital, possessed by one of the country’s most effective families the Guptas, who is under scrutiny for alleged initiatives to leverage ties to South African President Jacob Zuma because of their own benefit. But Bell Pottinger is thinking to have glossed over those issues, instead making a ‘divisive’ advertising campaign against ‘white monopoly capital’, the term used for the dominance of South African business by a few rich white interests.
Share Despite being instrumental in attracting the contract at the heart of the row – worthy of £100,000 until the company resigned the account in April – Lord Bell insisted yesterday evening that he had nothing to do with it. He informed Ms Wark: ‘I don’t take any responsibility, this was 18 months ago.
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I resigned from the business in August of this past year and I said one of the reason why was because of it. I am the innocent. In the strongly-worded statement, it added that the association had ‘never issued such a damning indictment of the agency’s behavior’. Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and marketing communications industry into disrepute using its actions, and they have received the harshest possible sanctions,’ the statement read.
The firm is prohibited to reapply for commercial, regular membership for at least five years. On the weekend, James Henderson sensationally resigned as the firm’s leader. But the problems intensified further today as the PR firm’s second-biggest shareholder had written off its investment in the business and a number of UK clients ditched its services.
Chime, an advertising firm, has abandoned an attempt to offload its 27 % stake in Bell Pottinger and has instead written off its keeping, raising further questions over the beleaguered company’s future. It really is realized that Unite and Carillion have drawn their business from Bell Pottinger as a direct result of the scandal. Additionally, it is thought that Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury is considering severing its relationship with the company as it screens the situation.
Investec and Richemont are among the other clients to have dumped Bell Pottinger over the scandal, with co-founder Lord Bell warning that the business will ‘almost certainly’ neglect to recover from the fallout. It follows a study by the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, which discovered that Bell Pottinger breached professional ethics over the campaign.