Bell Pottinger, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s public relations manager, has been blacklisted by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) of South Africa.
Powerbase, a guide to PR and communications activities of governments, listed the firm as working for Jonathan in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. Bell Pottinger is also said to be the firm that helped Margaret Thatcher win three elections.
The British public relations firm was removed as member of the PRCA after it was accused of exploiting racial divisions in South Africa on behalf of the Gupta family.
A statement issued by PRCA on Tuesday, said the role played by the PR firm in the construction of the Gupta family’s propaganda empire‚ consisted of multi-national fake news scheme to hide the family’s growing enrichment at the expense of South African citizens and taxpayers.
The association announced that it had imposed its most serious sanctions on Bell Pottinger‚ following the industry regulator’s investigation into the firm’s work for Oakbay Capital in South Africa. The investigation followed a complaint from the Democratic Alliance.
Francis Ingham‚ director-general of PRCA‚ said: “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions‚ and it has received the harshest possible sanctions.”
“The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.
“This outcome reflects the huge importance that the PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”
Bell Pottinger was found to have breached the PRCA professional charter and public affairs and lobbying code of conduct.
The firm will not be eligible to reapply for corporate membership of the PRCA for a minimum period of five years.