Twenty three ex-Bell Pottinger staff to join Pagefield and new sister agency

Seventeen of Bell Pottinger's 22-strong crisis comms team are joining a new agency launched by its former crisis and litigation chief Stuart Leach and Pagefield founder Mark Gallagher - as other agencies snap up employees of the collapsed business.

Pagefield founder Mark Gallagher: launches new agency
Pagefield founder Mark Gallagher: launches new agency

An additional six former Bell Pottinger employees are expected to join Pagefield itself, PRWeek has learned.

Elswhere, agencies including FleishmanHillard Fishburn, FTI Consulting and Buchanan have taken on staff from the collapsed agency in recent weeks. PRWeek rounds up some recent appointments.

The new agency, Pagefield Global Counsel, was set up in August, shortly after Leach left his role as CEO at Bell Pottinger Global Advisory. Gallagher and Leach’s venture, which is set to be launched formally in the next few weeks, focuses on litigation PR, crisis comms and international affairs.

Luke Chauveau, who spent 16 years at Bell Pottinger, most recently as an MD, takes the role of managing partner at Pagefield Global Counsel. Former barrister Alex Just moves over as associate partner.

Among the six new hires at Pagefield itself include Nikhita Sethi, formerly a consultant in the collapsed agency’s Global Advisory practice. According to her Linkedin profile, Sethi joins Pagefield this month as a consultant. In addition, former Bell Pottinger senior consultant James Baker joins Pagefield on Monday as associate partner.

The aim is for Pagefield Global Counsel to be a separate but complementary business to Pagefield, an independent London firm which specialises public affairs, corporate PR and campaigning. Other recent appointments at Pagefield include Liam Parker, a former special advisor to foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Who has gone where?

Agencies have been snapping up former Bell Pottinger staff in recent weeks; around 175 people worked at the London-based consultancy when it was placed in administration last month.

David Rydell, a director at Bell Pottinger who worked at the agency for 18 years, has joined WPP financial PR outfit Buchanan as a partner.

Buchanan senior partner Bobby Morse said: "His expertise and excellent reputation adds further momentum to our growth and we look forward to working with David in consolidating our position as a leading financial communications and reputation consultancy."

FleishmanHillard Fishburn has hired Claudia Bate, formerly a partner at Bell Pottinger heading its fintech, financial services & professional services offer, to the role of head of financial services and fintech. The Omnicom-owned agency has also appointed ex-Bell Pottinger associate partner Joshua Breckman, who worked across its financial services, technology and sport clients, as an associate director.

PRWeek understands former Bell Pottinger trio Antony Dunkels, Maria Jennings and Felicity Hall are collaborating with Celicourt, the agency founded in 2015 by former Bell Pottinger partner Mark Antelme, on an unnamed project, working with the agency as consultants. However, they have not joined Celicourt as full-time staff.

Former Bell Pottinger associate partner Jamie Ricketts has joined FTI Consulting Strategic Communications as a senior director. Another ex-associate partner, Elizabeth Snow, has joined Tulchan Communications as a director.

Earlier this week Lansons announced it had appointed Claire Southeard, former head of content at Bell Pottinger's Engage brand, as a board director.

One former Bell Pottinger employee told PRWeek: "What strikes me was how quickly they have all been absorbed into their new agencies. It gives a reflection of the health of the market in London."

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