DA confirms Bell Pottinger complaint upheld, appeal possible

Johannesburg – A UK body is expected to rule on Bell Pottinger, after it found that the PR firm was in breach of the code of conduct of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) through its work for Gupta-owned Oakbay.

According to a statement issued by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Phumzile Van Damme, the ruling is expected in the week of September 4. The Professional Practices Committee (PPC) held a hearing last week, where the DA presented its complaint.

READ: Bell Pottinger said to have breached code on Guptas, but DA says decision only due today

The complaint that the firm fuelled racial hatred in the country through its work for Oakbay was upheld and the PPC agreed it violated the Professional Charter. “We have now received confirmation that our complaint stands and Bell Pottinger will now be given five days to appeal the PRCA’s decision if it so chooses,” Van Damme said.

If Bell Pottinger appeals, the PRCA’s board of management will consider the appeal. They can either approve, amend, or overrule the decision by the PPC and publish a final decision during the week beginning September 4 2017, she explained.

The PRCA’s full decision on the disciplinary action to be taken against Bell Pottinger is yet to be made. “We trust that a strong sanction will be given against Bell Pottinger,” said Van Damme.

The DA reiterated its call for Bell Pottinger to disclose the earnings from the Gupta contracts and then reinvest that into South Africa.

Leaked Gupta emails have shown that the PR company orchestrated a narrative on "white monopoly capital" that has divided the ANC. The divisions came to a head at the ANC policy conference.

Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson told the BBC that "we were very naive" and said the company had no intention to stir racial hatred.

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