Bell Pottinger booted out of PRCA in 'damning' ruling by trade body
Bell Pottinger has received the 'harshest possible sanctions' from the PR and lobbying trade body.
Bell Pottinger has been expelled by the PRCA following its investigation into the firm’s work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa.
The consultancy was given a ‘disciplinary sanction’ by the UK’s public relations trade body earlier this year. Now Bell Pottinger’s membership of the RPCA has been terminated with immediate effect.
It means that Bell Pottinger is the second agency to have been excluded and will not be eligible to reapply for corporate membership of the PRCA for a minimum period of five years.
PRCA director general Francis Ingham, said: “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions. The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.
“This outcome reflects the huge importance that the PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”
Senior industry figures now expect that the agency could be wound down and resurrected with a different name. “All options will be on the table,” said one agency boss with links to Bell Pottinger.
This weekend Bell Pottinger chief executive James Henderson confirmed he had resigned following the accusations that his firm stoked racial tensions in South Africa through its work with the billionaire Gupta family.
The recent PRCA inquiry heard allegations that Bell Pottinger sought to stir up anger about “economic apartheid” to draw attention away from the controversial Gupta family, who have been accused of benefiting financially from their close links to president Jacob Zuma, although they have denied this.
Bell Pottinger joined the PRCA in 2013 and is believed to have paid around £15,000 last year to be a member.
The only other agency to have been expelled from the PRCA is Fuel PR, after the consumer shop produced a misleading case study about a woman suffering from excessive sweating.