Berwin Leighton Paisner ditch troubled Bell Pottinger

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Sep 06, 2017
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James Henderson, left, resigned last week as chief executive of Bell Pottinger, which was founded by Tim, now Lord, Bell


A leading City of London law firm has sacked Bell Pottinger in the wake of allegations that the PR agency stirred racial tensions in South Africa. 

A senior spokeswoman for Berwin Leighton Paisner – a top-20 UK law firm with annual revenues of around £270 million – told The Brief that the practice would no longer instruct Bell Pottinger. 

She said the contract had been "under review since July as a result of their work with Oakbay and we confirm that we are not working with them any more". 

The firm would not comment further on its past contract with Bell Pottinger, although the PR firm was on record as promoting the activities of Berwin Leighton Paisner's senior partner, Neville Eisenberg. 

Oakbay is a company owned by the wealthy Gupta family in South Africa. It emerged recently that the PR agency, which was founded by Tim, now Lord, Bell in 1998, was instructed by Oakbay to draw attention away from an allegedly corrupt relationship between the Gupta family and the government of President Zuma. 

The agency was expelled from the Public Relations and Communications Association earlier this week after its campaign in South Africa on behalf of Oakbay was found to be "potentially racially divisive". James Henderson, the PR group's chief executive, resigned last weekend. 

It also emerged yesterday afternoon that Hickman & Rose, a London white collar crime law firm had also sacked Bell Pottinger. However, the firm would not comment on whether the move was linked to the PR agency's involvement in the South Africa deal. 

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