‘Every person here is searching their souls to decide whether they did something or not.’
Following the Bureau’s undercover exposé of the ‘dark arts’ practiced by Bell Pottinger, the chairman of parent company Chime Communications has launched an internal investigation into his firm’s attempts to secure the business of Uzbekistan.
Bell Pottinger’s full board will then decide if disciplinary action should be taken against staff who fell for the sting, said Chime chairman Lord Tim Bell. Tim Collins, Sir David Richmond and David Wilson were the three Bell Pottinger executives who met with Bureau journalists.
Every person here is searching their souls to decide whether they did something or not.
Lord Bell, Chime Communications
In an interview with the Evening Standard today, the ‘beleaguered’ Lord Bell admitted that his company has been damaged by the Bureau’s revelations, published in the Independent.
‘Every person here is searching their souls to decide whether they did something or not,’ he told the Standard.
‘Of course I regret it, I need it like a hole in the head, all this shit,’ he admitted.
Revelations against the firm have affected company finances. Over the past three days – between 12am Monday and 12am Wednesday, Bell Pottinger’s share price has dropped by about 5%.
The news comes as the Bureau and Independent publish further allegations that Bell Pottinger covertly altered Wikipedia entries for clients, without declaring a conflict of interest.
Of course I regret it, I need it like a hole in the head, all this shit.
Lord Bell, Chime Communications
Wikipedia has today suspended ten accounts associated with Bell Pottinger as a result of these allegations.
Defending his staff, Lord Bell commented that ‘on the basis of what has been reported so far, I can see no example of people behaving improperly, though perhaps behaving indiscreetly.’
However, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales disagreed. He told the Independent last night: ‘I am astonished at the ethical blindness of Bell Pottinger’s reaction. That their strongest true response is they didn’t break the law tells a lot about their view of the world, I’m afraid.
‘The company committed the cardinal sin of a PR and lobbying company of having their own bad behaviour bring bad headlines to their clients, [and] did so in a fashion that brought no corresponding benefits,’ Wales said.
And in an interview with the BBC, Wales quipped ‘I offered to pop by their office next week give them a speech on ethical editing of Wikipedia – but I guess they didn’t think that was too amusing so they didn’t respond.’
An internal Bell Pottinger ‘damage control’ email leaked to the Independent this morning urged employees to reiterate that the firm has helped ‘all manner of organisations’, and to stick to ‘key messages’ when discussing the affair with clients.
The email also directs employees to more positive media coverage, citing BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.
‘On a positive note, it’s worth reading the ever-sensible Rory Cellan-Jones’s take on one part of this supposed scandal,’ the email said, providing a link to his blog.
However, Cellan-Jones has since commented on the firm’s Wikipedia manipulation, saying, ‘What is disturbing is the fact that the edits are carried out by an anonymous person who does not declare an interest.’