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Bell Pottinger CEO quits over work for Guptas

Henderson says firm needs a change of leadership to fix ‘problems of the past’.
A review by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has found that Bell Pottinger's management didn’t pay enough attention to what the team assigned to Oakbay were doing. Picture: Moneyweb

Bell Pottinger chief executiveofficer James Henderson resigned from the UK public relations firm after a report found that he should have more closely monitored a racially sensitive campaign carried out on behalf of the Gupta family South Africa.

“I recognise the business requires a change of leadership to fix the problems of the past,” Henderson said in an emailed statement on Monday. While he wasn’t directly involved in work for the Guptas’ Oakbay Investments, the CEO had “ultimate responsibility,” he said. 

Henderson’s departure came as London-based Bell Pottinger released a summary of an external report into its work for the Guptas, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma and are in business with his son. The review by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills found that the company conducted a social-media campaign aimed at highlighting economic inequality in South Africa along racial grounds, and that senior management didn’t pay enough attention to what the team assigned to Oakbay were doing.

“Members of Bell Pottinger’s senior management should have known the campaign was at risk of causing offense, including on grounds of race,” Herbert Smith Freehills said in an emailed statement from the public relations firm. They “failed to put in place policies and procedures to minimize the risks associated with this account,” it said.

Political influence

A report by South Africa’s graft ombudsman last year implied that the Gupta family used their political connections to influence cabinet appointments and the issuing of state contracts. Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations, which have since intensified due a series of leaked emails published by local media.

Bell Pottinger worked for the Guptas between January 2016 and April of this year. In July, the company fired the lead partner on the Oakbay account and suspended two others after reviewing Herbert Smith Freehill’s initial findings.

Read: Bell Pottinger fires Gupta-linked employees

The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s biggest opposition party, filed a complaint against Bell Pottinger with the UK’s Public Relations & Communications Association, which found the firm guilty of breaching its code of conduct. The industry body is due to publish its final ruling on Tuesday, following an appeal by the company.

Read: Bell Pottinger is said to breach industry code over Gupta work

Bell Pottinger has put in place remedies to avoid similar situations happening in the future, it said. These include improving its ability to monitor ongoing client work, more training for employees and the establishment of an ethics committee, it said.

© 2017 Bloomberg

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CEO resigns “ultimate responsibility” morality
Sri Lanka cricket team loses selectors resign “ultimate responsibility”morality
building burns in England Councillor resigns “ultimate responsibility”morality
SAA failure no resignation of the Minister why? no responsibility ???immoral???
Eskom
SABC
water
police
NPA
wither south africa

Why does one client of this PR firm is so much in news? Have I missed something important in the story because I don’t find anything so important that it need to highlighted so much?

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