FULL STATEMENT: Bell Pottinger drops the Guptas

Oakbay chair Atul Gupta and President Jacob Zuma at a Protea vs India T20 cricket match in Johannesburg in 2012. (Photo: GCIS)
Oakbay chair Atul Gupta and President Jacob Zuma at a Protea vs India T20 cricket match in Johannesburg in 2012. (Photo: GCIS)

United Kingdom public relations agency Bell Pottinger says it has been targeted by detractors of Gupta-owned Oakbay.

On Friday 31 March the South Africa Communist Party released a report “Bell Pottinger - PR support for the Gupta family”.

The report was anonymous, gave no sources for its allegations and contained many statements about this firm and our work for Oakbay that were wholly untrue.

Since then a concerted social media campaign has been waged against this firm and certain of its Partners and staff, with personally abusive and threatening comments on social media platforms.

Bell Pottinger has been happy to deny on the record all the allegations made against it, the firm and its Partners and staff hold themselves to the highest professional standards. To suggest that we would stoke racial tension in South Africa is both insulting and wrong.

For the last year we have been working to help Oakbay defend itself from attacks on its reputation, correcting misrepresentations and defending it and its owners from politically motivated attacks.

In recent times the tactics of Oakbay’s detractors have changed; Bell Pottinger has been targeted and become the story. The unfounded and unsourced report referred to above is the latest example of the campaign against us. Unfortunately, in this regard, they have had some success and we have to accept that this has compromised our ability to be an effective advocate for our client.

It is therefore with regret that we have suggested to Oakbay, and have mutually agreed with them, that we will step down from our role as communications advisers with immediate effect. In all our work for Oakbay we have seen no evidence of wrongdoing.

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