Bell Pottinger, which worked for Lanka, suspended for five years

Bell Pottinger, a British-based public relations firm which the former Sri Lankan Government hired for work both in that country and in the United States, has been slapped with sanctions.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), the professional body in Britain has declared that Bell Pottinger breached its charter and two clauses of its code of conduct.

This was over the company’s campaign for South Africa’s Gupta family and the PRCA said it was likely to “inflame racial discord.” Bell. Bell Pottinger cannot re-apply for PRCA membership for at least five years. The PRCA’s professional practices committee found Bell Pottinger‘s campaign was “likely to inflame racial discord in South Africa and appears to have done exactly that”.

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham was quoted in media reports as saying, “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions, and it has received the harshest possible sanctions. The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.

“This outcome reflects the huge importance that the PRCA places on the protection of ethical standards in the business of PR and communications.”Bell Pottinger said it acknowledges the ruling, “accepts that there are lessons to be learned but disputes the basis on which the ruling was made.” In a statement, the agency said it would continue to abide by the PRCA’s code of ethical conduct.