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Bell Pottinger Has Damaged The 'UK's Diplomatic Reputation In South Africa', Says House Of Lords

"I want to put on record that at no stage was Her Majesty’s Government in any way involved in their work in South Africa."

07/09/2017 15:31 SAST | Updated 07/09/2017 15:31 SAST
Robert Ingelhart via Getty Images

The British High Commissioner in Pretoria, Nigel Casey, has told the UK government that its diplomatic reputation with South Africa had been damaged because of Bell Pottinger.

In the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament in the UK, Lord Peter Hain asked Lord George Young, spokesperson for the British Cabinet's office, whether the UK government had any contracts with the disgraced PR company used by the Guptas to execute a smear campaign, reports Fin24.

"This has had a damaging impact on our country's reputation in South Africa, which is why I have gone out of my way to make it absolutely clear that government was in no way involved, nor indeed were the staff of the High Commission's office in any way involved in this particular contract," said Lord Hain.

The company is considering putting itself up for sale following its expulsion from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). Bell Pottinger's former CEO James Henderson, chairperson John Sunnucks and senior executive David Rydell quit following the expulsion.

Lord Young told the British High Commission in Pretoria that the UK government condemned the actions of Bell Pottinger and that it was not involved [in the company's operations].

"The behaviour of Bell Pottinger in South Africa has been completely unacceptable," he said. "We support the investigation conducted by the PRCA and Herbert Freehills Smith [a law firm].

"I want to put on record that at no stage was Her Majesty's Government in any way involved in [Bell Pottinger's] work in South Africa."

Hain asked that the UK government investigate whether any UK banks had had any dealing with the Guptas or President Jacob Zuma.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

"Since the respected former finance minister Pravin Gordhan has stated that the Guptas and the Zumas have benefited from R6.8 billion of money [laundered], can the government investigate whether any British banks are involved, what action can be taken at a European level and will the minister agree to meet me about this?

"The company behaved unprofessionally and unethically," he said.

Listen to the full interview with Hain on Talk Radio 702.