Lord Bell hits back at critics of PR companies’ involvement with Middle East regimes

The famously affable and debonair Lord Bell (Tim Bell as he was in his advertising days) has clearly been stung by criticisms of his company Bell Pottinger’s involvement with the Bahrain government and has written to trade publication PR Week to defend his reputation and that of other PR companies involved in the Middle East.

Here’s the letter.

I have been insulted by an unbelievably large number of people over the years and I do not normally respond.

But I am now tired of the criticism of both my firm and myself in relation to the various public outcries in various countries around the world.

In particular, I’m irritated by the inaccuracy of some of the media.

For example, the BBC’s Today program accusing us of working for the Tunisian regime which we didn’t and don’t.

However, my overall point is that it is not the reputation of the Public Relations industry that is in question but the reputation of some of the clients of various companies in the Public Relations business and the sheer misuse of words, given that my chosen trade is communication, does make me very cross.

The implication that in some way I and my company damage the reputation of the industry is absurd, groundless, hurtful and just plain wrong.

Far from it, we advised on the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, we have worked on a number of Eastern European elections replacing the Soviet Empire with democratically elected governments.

I personally, together with Jane Tewson, invented and created Comic Relief, my company abides by all the rules and regulations of a public company, we do not act for clients whose behaviour is illegal, I could go on but do not want to appear self seeking.

I’m not sure what Mr Rupert Read has on his list of achievements, nor do I know the credentials of something called “The Really Ethical PR Agency” but I think they probably contravene the Trade Descriptions Act.

I am used to being insulted by the Guardian and the BBC but I think it’s a pity that the magazine that represents our industry should on the one hand promote people who invent stories and on the other attack professional organisations that create wealth for this country and enhance the reputation of both the United Kingdom and the Public Relations industry.

Lord Bell, chairman, Chime Communications

Didn’t know he invented Comic Relief.

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