Bell Pottinger

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Group.png Bell Pottinger Private Communications Ltd  
(PropagandistPowerbase Sourcewatch Twitter WebsiteRdf-icon.png
Bell Pottinger.jpeg
Founder • Tim Bell
• Piers Pottinger
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Subgroups Pelham Bell Pottinger
Staff 300
Received $500 million from the US DOD to create a range of propaganda, including fake Al-Qaeda videos

Bell Pottinger is a British multinational public relations and marketing company, co-founded in 1989 by Tim Bell, who advised Margaret Thatcher on media matters when she was UK Prime Minister, and Piers Pottinger.[1] With headquarters in London, Bell Pottinger is the largest UK-based public relations consultancy measured by 2010 fee income[2] and is described as having "the most controversial client list" in the PR industry.[3][4]

In September 2017, Bell Pottinger's Holborn headquarters was reported to have been put into administration after it suffered an exodus of clients and increasing losses in the wake of the scandal over its campaign to stir up racial tensions in South Africa. The move to put Bell Pottinger into administration does not affect its subsidiaries in Asia and the Middle East, which are legally separate from the scandal-ridden parent company, are in negotiations to be spun off and rebranded.[5]

Fake Al Qaeda videos

In October 2016, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that Bell Pottinger had been paid more than $660 million[6] by the Pentagon to make fake videos that appeared to be the work of local groups such as Al Qaeda. Martin Wells reported that he was briefed to create news stories that looked as though they were produced by Arab media outlets, and distributed them through Middle Eastern news networks. He also reports that he made VCDs which were used to try to track people.[7]

Bell Pottinger worked in Camp Victory, the US military base in Baghdad, and the propaganda videos were personally approved by General David Petraeus – then the commander of US-led coalition forces in Iraq, who would go on to become the Director of the CIA. On some occasions, even the White House reportedly signed off on the propaganda materials.[8][7]

Chime Communications

In 2010 Pelham Public Relations, a financial public relations business, merged with Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial.[9] In December 2011, Bell Pottinger came under public scrutiny after managers were secretly recorded talking to fake representatives of the Uzbekistan government[10] and violating Wikipedia rules by removing negative information and replacing it with positive spin.[11][12]

BPP Communications

In June 2012, Lord Bell of Belgravia and Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson completed a £19.6m management buyout from Chime Communications, whose deputy chairman Piers Pottinger moved to the new company BPP Communications (BPPC). Chime retained a 25% stake and a seat on the board of BPPC, which comprises Bell Pottinger Public Relations, Pelham Bell Pottinger, Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, Bell Pottinger Sans Frontieres and Bell Pottinger Middle East.[13]

In June 2014, BPPC acquired Centreground Political Communications, founded by Tony Blair's former Special Adviser Darren Murphy, and launched a new service aimed at the luxury sector in September that year.[14][15]


  1. Black, Alex (28 March 2007). "THE POWER BOOK: Britain's most powerful". PR Week UK.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Top 150 PR consultancies". PR Week. Retrieved 11 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Pace, Richard, "Bell Pottinger Wins: Bail Extended for Atlaf Hussain’s Money Laundering Charges", Everything PR, 7 October 2015. Retrieved: 9 October 2015.
  4. Newman, Melanie; Wright, Oliver (6 December 2011). "Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM Special undercover investigation: Executives from Bell Pottinger reveal 'dark arts' they use to burnish reputations of countries accused of human rights violations". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Bell Pottinger goes into administration amid South Africa scandal"
  7. a b
  8. "US paid PR firm $540 million to make fake Al Qaeda videos in Iraq propaganda program"
  9. Chime PLC. "Chime Communications PLC ("Chime" or the "Company") A Vendor Placing and Cash Placing to Facilitate the Merger of Bell Pottinger". Press release. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 
  10. Morris, Nigel; Sherwin, Adam (8 December 2011). "Reaction: Lobbying company faces investigation by its own industry". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Pegg, David; Wright, Oliver (8 December 2011). "Wikipedia founder attacks Bell Pottinger for 'ethical blindness'". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Pegg, David; Newman, Melanie (8 December 2011). "Bell Pottinger targeted environmental campaigner on Wikipedia". The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Sweney, Mark (31 May 2012). "Chime agrees £20m Bell Pottinger sell-off". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Nias, Simon (12 June 2014). "Bell Pottinger plots further acquisitions after Centreground deal". PR Week. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Bell Pottinger launches luxury offer". Gorkana. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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