Mishcons advises ex-Bell Pottinger partners at centre of scandal as Pinsents cuts ties with PR firm

Two former Bell Pottinger partners have turned to Mishcon de Reya for advice as they consider their legal options after leaving the embattled public relations firm.

Victoria Geoghegan and Nick Lambert approached Mishcons after Geoghegan was fired in June, while Lambert left in August after he was first suspended.

Both worked on Bell Pottinger’s account for the Gupta family in South Africa, the campaign at the centre of the PR firm’s current problems.

The London Evening Standard reported yesterday (11 September) that the pair could sue their former employers, but that no decision had yet been taken.

The news comes as UK top 15 law firm Pinsent Masons has confirmed that it has ended its relationship with Bell Pottinger following the publication of a report into the PR firm’s conduct carried out by Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF).

The HSF report found that the the PR firm had breached “relevant ethical principles” during its work for the Guptas, stating that the firm had promoted “potentially racially divisive and offensive” messaging during its campaigning on the family’s behalf.

A Pinsents spokesperson said: “For some time we retained Bell Pottinger’s Middle East and Asia-Pacific divisions to conduct basic media relations work for the firm. Over the summer we became aware of disturbing reports surrounding the conduct of Bell Pottinger’s London office.

“At that point we immediately put our relationship with the organisation under review and took the decision to re-tender the PR support in those regions by September. In light of the subsequent HSF report, we have confirmed to Bell Pottinger that they will not be eligible to re-tender for the work.”

Pinsents joins a number of firms to have terminated relationships with Bell Pottinger in recent days. Last week, Berwin Leighton Paisner announced that it would have no further dealings with the firm after considering the findings of both the HSF report and after the Public Relations and Communications Association’s decision to expel Bell Pottinger from the PR trade body.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “After careful consideration of the reviews we can confirm that we are no longer working with Bell Pottinger.”

Bell Pottinger declined to comment.