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Bell Pottinger's 'dark arts' revealed

A secret video, taken by undercover reporters at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, reveals senior executives at Bell Pottinger boasting of their influence and access to senior members of the UK government, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Posing as agents for the government of Uzbekistan - heavily criticised for its brutal, dictatorial state and flagrant human rights violations - reporters inquired how the UK based PR firm would be able to alter Uzbekistan's negative online comments.

In response, senior executive, Tim Collins, said, "We've got all sorts of dark arts". Collins added that the comments were not added in the written presentation, "because its embarrassing if it gets out".

On a separate occasion, undercover reporters probed Pottinger's work for the Sri Lankan government.

See here for report by The Independent and here for report by The Guardian.

Watch video from 02:07.

Transcript reproduced below:

Reporter: "So what have you done for Sri Lanka for instance?"

David Wilson:

"Inside the UK we've added some critical dialogue at government level. We've added some balance outside a couple of media channels."

"So the Times and Channel 4 are particularly staunch in their opposition."

"We wrote President Rajapaksa's speech to the UN last year, which was very well received. You know it went, it went a long way to taking the country where they needed to go."

"Fundamentally though, they've set up a thing called the peace and reconciliation commission, which has got one fundamental flaw in it, in its remit on investigation what has gone on in the past try and bury the past."

"And unfortunately because that is the case, media like Channel 4 and the Times find that the whole peace and reconcilation commission is flawed."

See British PR firm wrote Rajapaksa's UN speech (05 Dec 2011)