Hand over all your info on Guptas - lawyer's letter to Bell Pottinger | Fin24

Hand over all your info on Guptas - lawyer's letter to Bell Pottinger

Jul 18 2017 21:00
Matthew le Cordeur, with Jan Gerber

Cape Town - Bell Pottinger has been requested to reveal the terms of reference given to law firm Herbert Smith Freehills as part of its investigation into the UK public relations’ firms contract with Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments.

The request – contained in a lawyer’s letter on Monday – was made by the Helen Suzman Foundation, Section27 and Save South Africa.

They also want "access to all underlying information and documentation on which any investigation and report are based, together with any interim reports that have already been prepared; and access to any other information and documentation in Bell Pottinger's possession which relates to this matter".

The activist organisations intend making recommendations to the UK-based Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), which will hear arguments regarding Bell Pottinger’s work on the Oakbay account on August 18. It also wants to make recommendations to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the UK.

The organisations said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they want to “assist these bodies in coming to a proper understanding of the social, economic and potential legal implications of Bell Pottinger’s conduct”.

“These three South African public interest organisations are concerned that the impact of Bell Pottinger’s conduct should be viewed in the correct context by Bell Pottinger’s own senior management, by the UK regulatory bodies and by the public at large.  

“In arriving at any conclusions about Bell Pottinger’s conduct, it is plainly necessary to have an appropriately informed understanding of South Africa’s constitutional project, the legal framework, its history regarding race and sectarian politics, and the challenges which the country faces.

“These organisations are hopeful that, in light of the expressed commitment in its apology to accountability and transparency, Bell Pottinger will respond positively to their approach.”

Regarding the August 18 hearing, the PRCA said the Democratic Alliance and Bell Pottinger are required to provide full evidence to the committee ahead of this hearing.

The DA alleges that Bell Pottinger stoked racial hatred in South Africa in the work it did for the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, both shareholders in Tegeta Exploration & Resources.

The party laid the complaint with the professional body that oversees rules and ethics for public relations companies.

Following the revelations contained in the #GuptaLeaks, it appears that Bell Pottinger has violated, among others, clause 4 of the PRCA's charter, which states that: "[A] member is required to take all reasonable care that professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender, race, religion, disability or any other form of discrimination or unacceptable reference," according to the DA.

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 had to respond to the DA's complaint by July 13, which it has done.

The beleaguered PR firm, which had to deal with the online wrath of South Africans, issued an apology to the country which was widely rejected by the public and political parties alike. South Africans protested outside the company's offices in London on Friday, with posters reading "stronger than Bell Pottinger".

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

da  |  bell pottinger  |  oakbay


Company Snapshot

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

Do you think government can solve the Eskom crisis?

Previous results · Suggest a vote