05/09/2017 10:33 SAST | Updated 05/09/2017 11:03 SAST

Bell Pottinger Still Disputing PRCA Ruling

Disgraced Bell Pottinger will 'voluntarily' follow ethics code.

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Atul Gupta.

Disgraced London PR firm Bell Pottinger on Tuesday did not seem that worried about its expulsion from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and stressed it would now follow the industry's ethical code voluntarily.

"Bell Pottinger acknowledges the PRCA ruling, accepts that there are lessons to be learned but disputes the basis on which the ruling was made," it said in a statement to HuffPost SA.

It did not elaborate further on what it disputed.

"In common with those of our major competitors who are not corporate members of the PRCA, we will abide by the PRCA code of ethical conduct on a voluntary basis," it said.

Bell Pottinger was hauled before a hearing over its work on a campaign for Oakbay Capital, a South African company owned by the wealthy and controversial Gupta family. Bell Pottinger was accused by the DA of stoking racial hatred.

The report by the PRCA found that Bell Pottinger's work on certain strategies was in breach of relevant ethical principles. The conditions of its expulsion meant that it would not be eligible to reapply for corporate membership of the PRCA for a minimum period of five years, even if it attempts to change its name.

Bell Pottinger on Tuesday tried to also do some damage-control for its clients and employees.

"The overwhelming majority of our partners and employees played no part in the Oakbay Capital account and have not been accused of breaching the PRCA code. Many of them will now consider applying for individual membership," it said.

The firm emphasised that it would continue putting its clients' priorities first.

"With the Herbert Smith Freehills findings made publicly available and the PRCA ruling published, the business can refocus on delivering outstanding work for our clients and looking after our people."