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By Tom Winnifrith | Monday 11 September 2017
It seems that PR firm Bell Pottinger will go into administration today and 270 folks will lose their jobs. Fear not most have already had other offers or decided to set up on their own. They saw the ship was sinking and there is no rat like a morally bankrupt PR rat in such a situation.
The immediate cause of the implosion was the revelation that, in South Africa, the firm had been banking a £100,000 a month retainer from Oakbay Capital, the Gupta family, to effectively stir up race hate against the white minority. The Public Relations and Communications Association promptly expelled Bell Pottinger from its ranks and the unravel began.
At this point it is worth noting that most big PR firms do not belong to the PRCA and after this they sure will not be signing up, showing once again how self-regulation is not always that effective. Market forces, however, are. Clients ditched the firm in droves, CEO James Henderson was forced out and the race into administration was a quick one.
But before you worry about this being a one-off that Henderson et al could not have spotted just accept that Bell Pottinger had a culture of spinning for anyone. Back in 2014 Redleaf did the honourable thing and resigned as PR spinners for the Quindell (QPP) fraud as Gotham City and this website exposed it as a total fraud. Bell Pottinger had no qualms about picking up this business.
As Quindell ratcheted up the pressure with its Court case against Gotham City (a PR stunt as Gotham was, under Speech Act protection, never going to show) and posted fascist lawyers letters and defamatory blog postings about me, who was doing the spinning advising it on how to deal with journalists? It was Bell Pottinger. It was Bell Pottinger behind that despicable campaign, with the account executive Ms Victoria Geoghegan in charge of this harassment of journalists and smears.
It appears that tricky Vicky was also at the heart of the South African smear campaign and was fired as a result. In the South African press she is routinely described as "evil" and there are calls for her to be put on trial.
The reality is that the actions of Bell Pottinger over Quindell showed that evil Victoria was even at that point either out of control or, more likely given her subsequent promotion, acting in a way that was deemed part of the Bell Pottinger culture. Willingly acting for known fraudsters and smearing and harassing journalists as part of that brief was something Bell Pottinger just did as a matter of routine. Vicky got promoted and financially rewarded for it. It was morally bankrupt then and that stain implicates all folks working at a senior level within this firm from founder Lord Bell and Henderson - who ousted Bell - down.
So James, who appears to have lost a lot of money and his planned marriage as well as his job as a result of this is attracting some sympathy in the City. I have known James since the early 1990s but have no sympathy. James promoted the loathsome Geoghegan after her despicable actions over Quindell. Sorry but that makes him morally bankrupt too. There's no sympathy from me.
In South Africa journalists ask when did Ms Geoghegan stop being an angel who did part time charity work and become "evil?" The answer is that doing a bit of charity work on the side as you smear good journalists and take the fraudster's shilling makes you evil all along, you just hide it well.
We can safely say that Geoghegan's career is over and I hope that she is prosecuted. The only thing that I regret is that more careers from a firm with a culture of wrongdoing will not be ended once and for all by the demise of Bell Pottinger. The deadwood press will not make this point as it knows that the rats will turn up elsewhere offering them "scoops" and perhaps cushy jobs on the dark side in years to come. So they stay pliant and express sympathy.
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