September 28, 2017 06:16:18
A disgraced company accused of inciting racial hatred in South Africa used to be decided on via the Federal Government as a possible guide on countering extremist violence.
Bell Pottinger sat on Government’s “countering violent extremism research panel” for 4 years
Government spokeswoman says together with them on panel “did not constitute a recommendation”
PR company has “long client list of disreputable, corrupt” figures, counter-terror skilled says
The popularity of British PR company Bell Pottinger has collapsed in fresh weeks after stories it used pretend social media accounts to take advantage of apartheid-era divisions for monetary acquire.
The pretend accounts slandered the ones attacking the company’s consumer, the Indian-born Gupta industry circle of relatives, and claimed white-owned companies had been keeping the economic system again.
The marketing campaign has been across the world condemned and described via the pinnacle of the United Kingdom trade crew as surroundings South African society again “probably a decade”.
Until closing 12 months, Bell Pottinger had sat on the Australian Government’s “countering violent extremism research panel” for 4 years.
The panel used to be decided on via the Attorney-General’s division and integrated suppose tanks, firms and universities that would tell deradicalisation systems.
Being decided on for the panel didn’t ensure Bell Pottinger paintings, but it surely indexed the company as an acceptable supply of recommendation for all Government companies.
That caused safety mavens to boost considerations in regards to the Government’s vetting processes, specifically given the company’s ties to infamous dictators.
‘They had long past into the darkish facet’
When the company used to be decided on for the panel in 2012, its hyperlinks to the Pinochet Foundation and the al-Assad regime had been already identified.
“They had a long client list of disreputable, corrupt and often violently authoritarian figures in developing nations, including Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” mentioned Greg Barton, a counter-terrorism skilled from Deakin University.
Bashar al-Assad used to be a consumer of Bell Pottinger. (Reuters: SANA, record)
“They had gone so much into the dark side of burnishing the image and credentials of authoritarian and violent figures, that they couldn’t be used for any legitimate Government projects.”
During the similar 12 months the company used to be decided on for the panel, its senior executives had been recorded boasting about how they may use “dark arts” to bury unhealthy media protection of businesses.
Bell Pottinger used to be additionally reportedly gotten smaller via america Government to run a propaganda and disinformation marketing campaign in Iraq, spreading movies that looked to be made via Al Qaeda.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s division mentioned it “did not engage or contract Bell Pottinger to provide any services under the panel arrangements”.
“Bell Pottinger was just one of a large number of successful applicants to be placed on the panel,” the spokeswoman mentioned.
“The panel was available to all Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.”
The spokeswoman mentioned together with Bell Pottinger on the panel “did not constitute a recommendation by the Attorney-General’s Department”.
‘Not a company you’ll wish to go together with’
Dr Barton mentioned the company’s popularity used to be now “mud” however there have been transparent indicators in 2012 that the company used to be now not are compatible to be concerned with a delicate nationwide safety factor.
“This particular company is certainly one that you wouldn’t want any association with now or in the past,” Dr Barton mentioned.
“It just wouldn’t be sensible to work with a firm that had a dark and disturbing client list and a history of doing black operations, or very questionable things.”
Clarke Jones, a deradicalisation skilled on the Australian National University, mentioned the Government used to be reliant on recommendation from suppliers with out a actual connection to existence in minority communities.
“If they have no relationships with communities, then they have no access to those youth requiring intervention or support,” Dr Jones instructed the ABC.
“I am not sure whether the Government fully understands the negative ramifications of their current countering-violent extremism approaches.”
The ABC has contacted Bell Pottinger for remark.
September 28, 2017 05:30:26