Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson resigns ahead of South Africa report

Alys Key
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The chief executive of PR firm Bell Pottinger has stepped down ahead of a report into the company's activities in South Africa.

James Henderson confirmed to City A.M. today that he had resigned, after nearly five years in the post.

His decision comes ahead of the release of a report from law firm Herbert Smith Freehills tomorrow. It is set to lay out findings regarding Bell Pottinger's actions in South Africa, where it is accused of stirring up racial tensions.

South Africa's Democratic Alliance party accused Bell Pottinger of a "hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africa along the lines of race" on behalf of the powerful Gupta family.

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The PR firm was implicated in a campaign to emphasise the power of white-owned businesses, using the #WhiteMonopolyCapital hashtag in order to draw attention away from the activities of the Guptas, whose links to South African president Jacob Zuma have been called into question.

In July, Henderson released an apology on behalf of the company, saying that interim evidence which Bell Pottinger had been shown ahead of the release of the report had "dismayed" the company.

The apology also confirmed that the lead partner on the account had been dismissed and a further three employees suspended.

"We wish to issue a full, unequivocal and absolute apology to anyone impacted. These activities should never have been undertaken. We are deeply sorry that this happened."

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