Who would say no to a £100 000 a month deal, even if it’s tainted with controversy? Not Lord Bell.
Ex-Chief Executive of Bell Pottinger – you know, the PR firm that worked on a campaign for Gupta-owned Oakbay Capital – Lord Bell decided to be interviewed about the firms’ fall from grace on BBC’s Newsnight.
Accused of “stoking racial hatred” and of “provocation over using the phrases ‘white monopoly capital’ and ‘economic apartheid’ on South African social media” by the DA, explains HuffPostSA, the latest setback for the firm is its expulsion from the UK’s leading PR trade body, Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA):
The expulsion will take immediate effect and constitutes “the most serious sanction” the PRCA can institute.
Lord Bell resigned from the firm last year and joined Kirsty Wark for an interview, during which he attempted to distance himself from any association with South Africa.
The result? One seriously awkward interview:
The PR guru, famed for helping Margaret Thatcher to three general election victories, argued he had quit the firm in August partly because people didn’t listen to him over the Gupta work.
As he was pressed on his close association to the deal, Lord Bell’s phone went off not once but twice as he struggled to defend his position.
At the start, Wark asked if it was a “devastating day” that the “company built with your own hands” was in such dire straits. “What went wrong?”, she added.
Lord Bell replied gnomically: “I think it can best be summed up by Walter Scott: what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
Not too impressive for a “PR guru” – and Twitter agreed:
Damn, son, I think it’s time you disappeared and lived out the rest of your years far from the public’s gaze.
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