CIPR 'condemns without reservation' Bell Pottinger's South Africa work as it confirms withdrawal of DA complaint

The CIPR has said it "condemns without reservation" the tactics used by Bell Pottinger in South Africa, after a complaint made against one of its members by the South African political party Democratic Alliance (DA) was withdrawn yesterday.

When the DA made its complaint to the PRCA, which eventually led to the expulsion of the organisation from the trade body, it also attempted to make a complaint to the CIPR.

The CIPR said that it took complaints "very seriously". With Bell Pottinger never having been a member of the institute, it looked into whether any of its individual members were involved in the controversial campaign - and said today that it provided the DA with a list of names of members who worked for Bell Pottinger. A full list of members' names, albeit without their employer, is publicly available.

When Bell Pottinger's PRCA expulsion was confirmed, the CIPR said that its complaint procedure was subject to confidentiality and that it could neither confirm nor deny whether any such complaint was being investigated. It also said that three of its members worked for the agency.

In a fresh statement today, it confirmed that a complaint against one member was brought forward by the DA on 25 August, but that the DA’s representative informed the CIPR’s solicitor yesterday "that the complaint would no longer be pursued".

The CIPR was not able to confirm the reason for the withdrawal of the complaint. The same question has been put to the DA by PRWeek.

Having thus far not commented on Bell Pottinger's behaviour in South Africa, the CIPR's statement today said: "The CIPR condemns without reservation the use of any such unethical, racially divisive or offensive tactics."

APPC update

Both the CIPR and public affairs body the APPC have been subject to criticism in the industry for their apparent lack of action in the Bell Pottinger case, with PRCA chief Francis Ingham appearing to refer to this in the statement released when Bell Pottinger's punishment was confirmed.

While the DA also made a complaint to the APPC, of which Bell Pottinger is a member, the body said it could not comment.

The APPC told members last week that the PRCA case "related to the activities of Bell Pottinger’s Financial & Corporate Practice in South Africa" and said that that practice "is not, and never has been, a member of the APPC". It also noted that the APPC's Code of Conduct does relate to activities directed at political institutions outside of the UK.


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