NEWS

Bell Pottinger To Appeal PR Ruling Over Whipping Up Racial Divisions In South Africa

The PRCA will now meet again on Monday to consider the appeal and will issue its final ruling on September 5.

01/09/2017 16:34 SAST | Updated 01/09/2017 16:38 SAST
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The DA's Phumzile Van Damme confirmed Bell Pottinger is appealing.

PR firm and the Gupta family's spin doctors, Bell Pottinger, has appealed a ruling by a UK PR watch dog that found it breached the code of conduct in the work it carried out for the family.

The Democratic Alliance's Phumzile Van Damme confirmed on Friday that Bell Pottinger submitted an appeal to the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) in reference to the decision to uphold the complaint filed by the party.

The PRCA will now meet again on Monday to consider the appeal and will issue its final ruling the next day, on September 5.

"The DA looks forward to the outcome of the ruling and we trust that PRCA will make the right decision in holding Bell Pottinger accountable," Van Damme said.

"We reiterate our call for Bell Pottinger to do the right thing and disclose all Gupta contracts and monies from their accounts with the Guptas and reinvest it into South Africa."

Read: Guptas Tell The BBC They Had Nothing To Do With Bell Pottinger's White Monopoly Capital Campaign

The DA reported Bell Pottinger to the PR watchdog after leaked Gupta emails showed that the company allegedly orchestrated a social media narrative on "white monopoly capital" to distract away from reports on the Gupta family and their relationship with state officials.

The complaint that the firm fueled racial hatred in the country was upheld earlier this month.

It was alleged the firm's campaign was aimed at increasing racial divisions around a white monopoly capital theme to avert attention from state capture claims, as well as creating fake social media accounts to personally tarnish journalists and others such as former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Read: Ferial Haffajee: The Gupta Fake News Factory And Me

In July, Bell Pottinger dismissed senior partner Victoria Geoghegan and three other staff apologised for having run an "inappropriate and offensive" campaign for Oakbay.

"As soon as we were made aware that we had been misled and that work was being done which goes against the very core of our ethical policies, we acted immediately," said James Henderson, Bell Pottonger's chief executive.

The Guardian reported that Bell Pottinger will be given a "disciplinary sanction" by the PRCA, which is considering a range of actions it could take against the company, including terminating its membership of the trade body.