Hollinger pulls media relations from Bell Pottinger

LONDON - Embattled publisher Hollinger International, owner of the Telegraph Group of newspapers, has dropped Bell Pottinger from handling media relations.

Lord Bell, chairman of Bell Pottinger parent company Chime Communications, told PRWeek: "The client has decided it's an American story and it doesn't need any representation in the UK."

That representation would be handled by New York-based crisis management firm Kekst & Co, he added.

Jeremy Fielding, a principal at Kekst, is acting as spokesman for Hollinger in the US and UK.

Bell and Chime deputy chairman Piers Pottinger were hired last month to handle the UK press , which was speculating that Hollinger would sell off the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

It is understood that they will continue to provide strategic advice to Hollinger chief operating officer Dan Colson and other key figures within the company.

Bell indicated that the decision had been taken to exert greater control over the story. "[Hollinger] thinks too many people servicing the press feeds the story," he said. "The decision has been taken on the basis of how to have as little coverage as possible."

There was "no likelihood at all" that the Telegraph Group would be sold, added Bell.

There has been intense media speculation ahead of the findings of an internal investigation by the publisher into its finances, expected at the end of March.

Conrad Black resigned as chief executive of the Canadian publisher in November over allegations that he had received £19m in payments unauthorised by the board.

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