Arun Sudhaman 01 Sep 2017 // 11:45AM GMT
LONDON — Bell Pottinger, which is facing expulsion from the UK's trade association for PR firms, has appealed the decision made by the PRCA's Board of Management following
the disciplinary hearing into the UK PR firm's controversial work for South Africa's Gupta family.
"The PRCA can confirm that Bell Pottinger has submitted an appeal to the PRCA, in response to the decision made by its Board of Management into the complaint filed by Democratic Alliance," said a PRCA spokesperson.
The PRCA Board of Management will issue its final ruling on the morning of 5 September. The appeal comes after the PRCA's Professional Practices Committee upheld the complaint made against Bell Pottinger by South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition party.
That decision, which was approved by the PRCA Board last week, left the UK PR firm open to a range of disciplinary sanctions, including termination of membership. Sources familiar with the situation told the Holmes Report that both the PPC and Board favoured expulsion, although that will now be reconsidered at Monday's meeting.
The developments follow Bell Pottinger's controversial work for Oakbay Capital, the holding group controlled by the Gupta family, which is closely linked to South African President Zuma. Critics, including several South African civic and political groups, allege that Bell Pottinger attempted to sow racial division on behalf of Oakbay, in a bid to depict Zuma's opponents as agents of 'economic apartheid'.
A Bell Pottinger investigation into the affair has already resulted in the sacking of lead partner Victoria Geoghegan and the suspension of three other executives, pending a full report by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. The DA has also called on Bell Pottinger's clients to desert the firm — with Henderson admitting to the BBC that the work has cost it relationships with key customers. These include Richemont, Investec and Tourism South Africa.