Singapore And United Kingdom Clients Fire Bell Pottinger As SAFFERS Turn On The Heat

EDINBURGH — South Africans are fed up with Bell Pottinger, a London-headquartered public relations firm that has been exposed for fuelling racial tensions on behalf of their corrupt and captured masters. Bell Pottinger staff have worked closely with Duduzane Zuma, who works for the Gupta family, to develop speeches and other propaganda for ANC figures associated with Zuma and the state capture strategy. Earlier this month, some South Africans staged a protest against Bell Pottinger in London. In South Africa and elsewhere, Saffers have taken to social media channels to vent their anger at Bell Pottinger. Many South Africans would like to see Bell Pottinger employees behind bars for their role in race-baiting and corruption. Bell Pottinger faces a hearing before a UK PR body later this week, but some big clients aren’t waiting for the outcome. They are dumping Bell Pottinger as the PR firm makes the fatal public relations error of becoming the story. – Jackie Cameron

Bell Pottinger, the London-based public relations company at the centre of the Zupta campaign of corruption and state capture, is fighting for its survival.

This is evident as a number of its big clients have jumped ship in recent weeks amid explosive evidence contained in the #GuptaLeaks emails that Bell Pottinger created and developed an evil plot to stir up racial hatred for its corrupt South African masters.

South Africans have reacted with anger and outrage, protesting in London and through social media channels, about the role of Bell Pottinger in an anti-white narrative that has even included a willingness to incite civil war.

The British media has picked up the story, with the BBC broadcasting a documentary summarising the story of how Bell Pottinger has become the ‘face of hate’ in South Africa.

London’s Evening Standard has published a column telling its readers that viewers of BBC’s Newsnight were “powerfully reminded” that Bell Pottinger is “up to its neck in allegations that it helped orchestrate a ‘black ops’ PR campaign in South Africa deliberately prodding the powderkeg of racial tensions.”

Clients who have dropped Bell Pottinger include Temasek in Singapore and in London, Acacia Mining and CYBG — owner of Clydesdale bank. Another major UK client is likely to follow suit soon, reckons the Evening Standard, while other Bell Pottinger clients are waiting for the outcome of the Herbert Smith inquiry1 and an August disciplinary hearing at the PR industry’s professional body, the Public Relations and Communications Association.

Bell Pottinger has raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds working for the Zuma-Gupta clique, on the one hand, and South African Tourism on the other.

Evening Standard columnist Jim Armitagewrites that “when you’re charging people handsomely to enhance their reputation, the last thing you need is to have your own public image trashed. But that’s where Bell Pottinger, one of the biggest PR firms in London, finds itself.”

“Swirling claims in some quarters say Bell Pottinger created, or knew its campaign colleagues were creating, fake social media feeds stirring up racist feeling. So far, in dealing with its own crisis management, the firm has gone down the traditional route: apologise. Hire lawyers at Herbert Smith to investigate itself. Fire the executive in charge of the project.”

But senior management remains in place, notes the Evening Standard.

“Chief executive James Henderson — who denies all knowledge of the wrongdoing — survived a crisis board meeting on Tuesday. Directors say they fleshed out a ‘surprising’ plan for the company’s future to be revealed in due course. 

“Is that good enough? For some clients, no. This scandal happened on Henderson’s watch. It took place because he agreed to take on a client in South Africa — the billionaire Gupta family — with a controversial reputation and close links to a president, Jacob Zuma, mired in corruption allegations. 

Tweet Received:

The “board” not firing Henderson says everything about the board. If he truly knew nothing, he is either incompetent or lying. Which is it? https://twitter.com/armitagejim/status/888044263291965442 

 “Even if Henderson wasn’t aware of how his staff would run the campaign, he should have known the risks of dealing with the Guptas. After all, Investec — the respected South African banking giant — dropped Bell Pottinger when it learned of the contract last spring.

“That was a red flag alert which should have, at the very least, led Henderson to keep a super-close watch on the campaign. Another flare went up in the summer when Richemont heir Johann Rupert — another ex-client — opposed the contract,” says Armitage.

Some clients are waiting for the outcome of the Herbert Smith inquiry and an August disciplinary hearing at the PRCA before making a decision to cut loose from Bell Pottinger, says the newspaper.

The last time the PRCA had a hearing of this magnitude, observes Armitage, was also into Bell Pottinger, over cash-for-access allegations.1

“That tells you the firm is guilty of the cardinal sin of PR — becoming the subject of the story. Henderson should have seen this coming. It’s hard to see how he can survive in post for long.”

long.”

Highlighted on the BBC:

  • The BBC video features Former Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas discussing the ‘golden handcuff’ offer he received from the Gupta family to do its work if he stepped up to the role of finance minister.
  • DA leader Mmusi Maimane highlights how South Africa is a powder keg of racial divisions after years of racial segregation.
  • That Bell Pottinger partner Victoria Geoghegan has become the face of hate in South Africa.
  • How Victoria Geoghegan developed “an extraordinary strategy to focus on race and play up this country’s enduring divisions”.
  • The BBC described Victoria Geoghegan’s strategy as a “cynical ploy or naive blunder”
  • Bell Pottinger wrote political speeches for Gupta ANC allies and assessed talk of civil war as “positive” or “neutral”.
  • How a white monopoly capital campaign was driven on social media.
  • Bell Pottinger’s role is hard to pin down in connection with fake Twitter accounts in London, though its CEO James Henderson has admitted inappropriate behaviour.
  • Eventually “Bell Pottinger got the message” that it was behaving badly in South Africa, dropped the Gupta family and apologised. It insists it was misled.
  • From very start there was “utter fury and disgust” within Bell Pottinger about this contract, but Henderson denies this.
  • Pravin Gordhan, former Minister of Finance, says total transparency is required.
  • South Africans are angry that Bell Pottinger came to the country to “destroy” a society that has been painstakingly built over just over two decades.

South Africans Get Set For UK Bell Pottinger Hearing

The Helen Suzman Foundation, Section27 and Save SA have expressed their willingness to assist in any probe into Bell Pottinger’s conduct, reports Eyewitness News.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “As previously announced, the complaint filed by the Democratic Alliance (the South African political party) against Bell Pottinger is being considered by a Professional Practices Committee. This Committee has decided to hold a hearing on this case with both parties on Friday, 18th August, 2017. Both the Democratic Alliance and Bell Pottinger are now required to provide full evidence to the Committee ahead of this hearing. We want to thank both sides again for their cooperation so far.”

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “As previously announced, the complaint filed by the Democratic Alliance (the South African political party) against Bell Pottinger is being considered by a Professional Practices Committee. This Committee has decided to hold a hearing on this case with both parties on Friday, 18th August, 2017. Both the Democratic Alliance and Bell Pottinger are now required to provide full evidence to the Committee ahead of this hearing. We want to thank both sides again for their cooperation so far.”

About The PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is a UK-based PR and communications membership body, operating in 55 countries around the world. We represent in excess of 20,000 people across the whole range of the PR and communications industry. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry’s behalf e.g. fighting the NLA’s digital licence.

Through a single lawyer, the organisations have requested information from the PR agency for them to compile the evidence and to make sure it is considered in a South African context.

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