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Thatcher's PR guru managing Litvinenko media interest
[December 04, 2006]

Thatcher's PR guru managing Litvinenko media interest


(Turkish Daily News Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) With theories still flying around about exactly how Russian former spy Alexander Litvinenko died, a media spotlight has fallen on how public relations executives have helped the story emerge

Their involvement first became apparent when a photograph of a seriously-ill Litvinenko in his hospital bed was arranged by Lord Tim Bell, known for running publicity campaigns for then prime minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party in the 1980s



Bell, one of the biggest names in British public relations (PR), was knighted by Thatcher after helping her to three, straight general election victories before being ennobled by current premier Tony Blair

Clients of his firm, Chime Communications, include fast food chain McDonalds, computer giant Hewlett-Packard and carmakers Rolls-Royce


But Bell told Agence France-Presse he was working on the Litvinenko case for free after getting involved three days before the story broke in the British media on November 19 at the request of Alex Goldfarb

Bell was already friends with Goldfarb, the Litvinenko family's spokesman and executive director of the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, set up by self-exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, another Bell client

"I have been helping Alex Goldfarb and the family deal with a torrent of media enquiries," he confirmed, adding that this involved fielding calls and arranging for the photograph to be taken

But some pro-Kremlin Russian newspapers claim his role has been larger than that

Their suspicions have focused on the statement, which Litvinenko's friends say the former agent wrote before his death, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of responsibility for killing him

Earlier this week, the Izvestia newspaper quoted unnamed experts saying it did not look like the work of a Russian, particularly a passage reading: "As I lie here, I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death." "The construction of the letter is more characteristic of English texts," the paper said

"In this regard, the English PR company Bell Pottinger (part of Chime Communications) immediately comes to mind, which apparently got involved in hyping Litvinenko's death."

Copyright 2006 Turkish Daily News. Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Middle East Intelligence Wire.

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