NEWS

Bell Pottinger Is Expelled From UK PR Association

The announcement will officially be made at 1am South African time on Tuesday.

04/09/2017 18:22 SAST | Updated 04/09/2017 19:21 SAST
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Billionaire businessman and newspaper publisher Atul Gupta.

Controversial London public relations firm Bell Pottinger will be expelled from the United Kingdom's Public Relations and Communications Agency. The expulsion will take immediate effect and constitutes "the most serious sanction" the PRCA can institute, according to a copy of the PRCA's verdict, whose accuracy has been verified by two other independent sources.

The expulsion, which will be made public at 1am on Tuesday, was a unanimous decision of the PRCA board and committee, who found that Bell Pottinger fell short of the PRCA's ethical standards. The PRCA also believes Bell Pottinger's work on the Gupta-owned Oakbay account brought the rest of the British public relations industry into disrepute.

It follows a complaint to the PRCA by the Democratic Alliance (DA), who presented oral arguments in London last month.

Read: Bell Pottinger Broke Professional Code Of Conduct During Gupta Campaign In SA

The PRCA's report has been released under embargo to select parties. It was not released to HuffPost South Africa or by any party to the dispute, including the PRCA. The document containing the verdict has however been circulating in South Africa on Monday. Both the PRCA and Bell Pottinger were approached for comment about the decision.

On Monday morning, Bell Pottinger chief executive James Henderson announced his resignation from the company. Later on Monday the findings from an independent review conducted by international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) LLP into the work done by Bell Pottinger on its Oakbay account in South Africa were released.

It detailed the racially divisive nature of the campaign launched by Bell Pottinger, codenamed the "Economic Emancipation Campaign". The report also found that Bell Pottinger's work on the strategies behind the Economic Emancipation Campaign was created in breach of relevant ethical principles.