Independent probe finds Bell Pottinger breached ethics in Oakbay work

The law firm says taking on such a campaign is not a breach of ethics in itself, but adds management should've exercised extreme care, which they failed to do.

Picture: @BellPottinger/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - An independent investigation ordered by UK PR firm Bell Pottinger has found the agency breached ethical principles in work done for the Gupta-owned Oakbay.

The findings of the Herbert Smith Freehills probe were released on Monday.

It echoes the statement of former Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson, who resigned over the weekend, saying senior management was mislead by the team managing the Oakbay account.

Herbert Smith Freehills says the team managing the Oakbay account initially focused on corporate communication.

The probe has found account managers started spending more time on the economic emancipation campaign in September last year.

The law firm says taking on such a campaign is not a breach of ethics in itself, but adds management should've exercised extreme care, which they failed to do.

The findings reveal the campaign was potentially racially divisive and offensive, and the content was in breach of relevant ethical principles.

It further states account managers mislead senior management. However, the firm believes there were a number of opportunities to pick up on this throughout the campaign.

The independent investigation could not find any evidence of so-called Twitter bots being used by Bell Pottinger.

Findings of Herbert Smith Freehills Review by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)