Lord Bell fights back over criticism of PR agencies' links with foreign regimes

Lord Bell reacts to intense negative coverage of major PR firms' work with foreign regimes

Lord Bell: Strong defence of PR in wake of agencies' links with foreign regimes
Lord Bell: Strong defence of PR in wake of agencies' links with foreign regimes

Chime Communications chief Lord Bell has launched a staunch defence of his business and the industry after weeks of unflattering coverage of London PR agencies' links with foreign regimes.

Bell, writing to PRWeek, said he was 'tired of the criticism of both my company and myself in relation to the public outcries in various countries around the world'.

He pointed to factual inaccuracies in recent reporting, citing the BBC's Today programme's mistaken claim that Bell Pottinger worked for the Tunisian regime, but was particularly strident about the suggestion that the agency's work sullies the reputation of the industry.

'The implication that in some way my company and I damage the reputation of the industry is absurd,' he wrote. He insisted that Bell Pottinger 'abides by all the regulations of a public company'.

Chime Communications has come under fire from a small group of protesters and a number of media for its work with the Bahrain government. Bell's letter came in the week the Foreign Office advised British nationals to leave the Gulf state unless they had 'a pressing reason to remain', as demonstrations against the government intensified.

It is understood that a number of agencies with offices in the state have temporarily suspended their operation, with staff servicing clients from home or from outside Bahrain.

This week it emerged that Edelman has stood down its work for Bahrain in the US. Edelman said it halted work on the account, previously held by Weber Shandwick, at the request of Bell Pottinger.

Grayling's international work also fell under the media microscope on Tuesday after The Independent attacked the agency for allegedly working to drive investment in Belarus under dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Grayling CEO Michael Murphy hit back, telling PRWeek: 'Grayling does not and has never done any work for the government of Belarus, nor does it lobby on its behalf.

We are one of a number of firms including accountants and lawyers who have a small representative presence there.'

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