Finsbury draws ire of NGO over client's mining plan

City firm Finsbury has become the latest PR agency targeted by a NGO because of its client's activities.

‘Under threat’: Dongria Kondh tribe
‘Under threat’: Dongria Kondh tribe

Survival International, an organisation that supports tribal people worldwide, has asked the agency to resign its account with mining giant Vedanta Resources.

The group claims that the British FTSE100 company's plans to mine bauxite from an Indian mountain will destroy the lives of the 8,000 members of the Dongria Kondh tribe that live in the surrounding area.

The group is planning to write to parent company WPP's chief Martin Sorrell and protest outside Finsbury's offices if the agency does not enter into dialogue with it. The move comes just weeks after Greenpeace targeted three Unilever agencies (PRWeek, 25 April) in a recent trend where PR agencies are being held account­able for their clients' actions.

Finsbury said it has no plans to ­resign the account and referred us to its client's statement refuting the claims.

Survival director Step­hen Corry said: ‘People who care about human rights should boycott British companies that dispossess tribal peoples, or any companies working for them. That includes PR agencies like Finsbury, which parrots [owner] Anil Agar­wal's denials that the Dongria Kondh face destruction.'

Survival International PR consultant Ghislain Pascal said while the group had considered targeting agencies in the past, it had been inspired by the effectiveness of Greenpeace's recent actions. ‘PR agencies should be responsible. They are the mouthpieces of these companies,' he said.

The group has also written to stakeholders including Coutts Bank, Standard Life, Barclays Bank, Abbey Nat­ional and HSBC, as well as Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Councils, asking them to stop investing in the company until it abandons plans to open the mine. Norway has already excluded Vedanta from its national pension fund investments.

In a statement, Vedanta Resources said: ‘Vedanta is committed to managing its business in a socially responsible manner. Therefore, we vigorously refute these allegations from Survival.'

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