During a lively interview with presenter Kirsty Wark (see video, below), Bell was pressed on his role in the scandal, which in the past two days has led to the resignation of agency CEO James Henderson and the firm’s dramatic expulsion from the PRCA. The PRCA’s professional practices committee ruled that the agency ran a campaign that was "likely to inflame racial discord in South Africa".
Bell, who went to South Africa to discuss the account with Oakbay Investments, said he told Henderson the agency could not take the work because of a "conflict of interest".
However, Wark read from an email, dated 18 January 2016, in which Bell labelled the trip to South Africa a "great success" and said "I will oversee this and make further reports". The two then disagreed about whether this amounts to a contraction of his earlier statement about Bell’s involvement in the account.
Speaking to PRWeek in July, Bell said he warned others in the business that taking the brief would be bad for Bell Pottinger, but that colleagues "completely ignored me".
Asked by Wark if the scandal means it is now "curtains for Bell Pottinger", Bell replied: "Almost certainly, yes, but it’s nothing to do with me.
"I think it probably is getting near the end. You can try and rescue it but it won’t be very successful."