The Fake Azimov Group Powerpoint Presentation To Bell Pottinger: Sockpuppets And Agendas
THIS is the powerpoint presentation – Changing perceptions of Uzbekistan: A Bell Pottinger presentation – created by Iain Overton’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism and presented to PR Firm Bell Pottinger.
Lord Bell, a former communications adviser to Margaret Thatcher, says the story is “an attempt by unethical, underhand deception to manufacture a story where none exists“.
Is the BoIJ even handed? It says:
In March 2011, Uzbekistan expelled Human Rights Watch. The US think-tank Freedom House included it in the ‘Worst of the Worst‘ list of repressive regimes in 2011. A number of years earlier, the regime had gained a reputation after allegedly boiling a religious prisoner to death, and is frequently accused of torturing people to obtain confessions.
The fake Azimov group would deal in cotton:
Uzbekistan’s cotton is the subject of an international boycott by several clothing manufacturers because the country still allegedly uses forced labour, including child labour, in its harvest.
The group adds:
The Bureau approached 10 London PR firms. Two – Morris International Associates and Ogilvy PR – declined to pitch for the business, several others never replied, while five including Bell Pottinger appeared to be prepared to accept the fictitious account.
Bell has links to the Tories. It got the meeting.
And somewhat buried in the slides is the news that Bell Pottinger said they would represent Uzbekistan if the place reformed:
If, however, the government is committed to real and lasting reform then there are many things that Bell Pottinger could do”
“… change is essential in order to change international attitudes.”
“But we must be able to show our target audiences that change has begun, that long term goals have been defined…”
“Once we have the assurance that genuine, verifiable reform is being introduced, we can put in place a communication and media strategy that tells the story of how Uzbekistan is changing for the better.”
So. Was the story presented fairly?
Iain Overton was hired by the David and Elaine Potter Foundation. The BoIJ is “supported by Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times; Seymour Hersh, who has been at the forefront of investigative journalism for decades; and Nick Davies, award-winning investigative reporter and author of Flat Earth News”.
The David and Elaine Potter Foundation is a charitable family foundation established in 1999 to encourage a stronger, fairer civil society. It has granted more than £10 million to registered charities in the UK and abroad.
The David and Elaine Potter Foundation supports the ideals of a rational and humane world. The Foundation seeks to achieve an impact through grants that promote reason, education, and human rights, in the hope of improving mutual understanding, reinforcing good governance, and encouraging the growth and maintenance of a robust civil society, particularly in less developed countries.
Well, they’ve stirred things up. Th question is: can the PR sockpuppets fix it?
Click her to see the presentation.