Clients want answers as Bell Pottinger gears up for damage limitation
Oliver Duff was appointed Editor of i in June 2013. He was previously Executive Editor at The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday, running the newsroom. Formerly a reporter, gossip columnist and news editor, he was fired as the magazine's bar critic after three weeks. A diver and surfer, he's interested in nature and science, politics and diplomacy.
Thursday 08 December 2011
Bell Pottinger's clients have sought answers from the agency in the wake of this week's revelations, according to an email leaked to The Independent that illustrates the sense of siege at the company's headquarters.
Managers have told staff that the firm's clients say they don't know "what the fuss is about" as fresh revelations emerge about the lobbying firm's ethics and the claims it makes to win business. Executives warned employees that they expect "further revelations".
Staff were emailed by senior figures including David Wilson, the chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Relations and one of the men at the centre of the scandal. The message was sent "to thank" employees for what it says are all "their supportive messages".
"We have spoken to clients who have had questions," the message adds. "We have had many supportive comments along the lines of what is the fuss about."
The fuss has extended to Downing Street, which has had to admit that lobbyists do influence government policy – a marked change in tone from previous statements.
Amid a growing storm that has been enveloping Bell Pottinger since revelations about its methods were published by The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the message appears designed to calm nerves and to seek to ensure that staff stick to the firm's "key messages" when speaking to contacts about the affair.
It claims that the stories – detailing the company's willingness to deal with supposed representatives of the Uzbek government, despite the Central Asian country's appalling human rights record – were simply "published to coincide with a Private Member's Bill in the House of Commons, and is undoubtedly part of a wider campaign to put pressure on the Government over its dealings with lobbyists".
Employees are urged to "reiterate key messages that we never agreed to do any work for this fictional company and we would not work for them without proof of the Uzbek government's commitment to change".
It alleges that Bell Pottinger has "never claimed to have influenced government policy" and has helped "all manner of organisations" to present facts and arguments to policymakers "so they can do so in full knowledge of our clients' point of view". These, it says, have included media organisations.
It also reserves praise for the BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones's blog, in which he discusses Bell Pottinger's claims that it could "solve" problems with Google and ensure favourable entries on Wikipedia for clients willing to pay the company's substantial fees.
"On a positive note, it's worth reading the ever-sensible Rory Cellan-Jones's take on one part of this supposed scandal," the message says, providing staff with a link to his blog.
* Lobbyists - full related links
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
- 1 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 4 Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
The man who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for £2.5 billion says it's made him miserable
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...