Bell Pottinger partner confused after being named by DA as subject of CIPR complaint

A former partner at Bell Pottinger has said he has never received any complaint from the CIPR, despite being named by the Democratic Alliance as having been part of the agency's work for Oakbay.

The CIPR yesterday said that a complaint against one of its members lodged last month by the South African political party had been withdrawn. The party had worked with the CIPR to ascertain whether any of its members may have been involved in Bell Pottinger's racially divisive campaign, which has led to the agency's demise.

However, a DA press release has since said that it was Kevin Read, who was formerly chair of the agency's corporate and brand practices, but took a sabbatical during the first half of the year.

Read told PRWeek: "I was not in any way involved in bringing the Oakbay work in, I played no part in the delivery of it, and I was not part of the senior management which dealt with the issues as they arose."

The DA release said: "The CIPR informed the DA that Mr Read did not respond to our complaint and failed to disclose any relevant information. Therefore, we did not deem it necessary to continue."

Read said he had not received any such communications from the CIPR.

In line with its complaints procedures, the institute said it could not name the individual who was subject to the complaint. Under CIPR rules, complaints are heard regardless of whether a defendant had been responsive and engaged in our process.

The CIPR also confirmed that its solicitor delivered the complaint in person to Bell Pottinger's office, and sent it by recorded delivery to another address.

A case of mistaken identity?

Another Bell Pottinger employee told PRWeek that Read had never been involved in the Oakbay work, and suggested the DA had confused Read with another individual. The DA did not respond directly to this point.

Yesterday's DA release continued: "The DA thanks the CIPR for the professional manner in which our complaint was handled."

"The DA’s quest against Bell Pottinger has never been one of blind vengeance but about getting full disclosure, ensuring that the firm is held accountable and that the money is paid back to South Africa."

Read next: Kevin Read steps down from PRCA board

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