London based PR firms stand accused of reputation laundering

London based public relations firms have been accused of profiting from foreign despots after an investigation by the guardian revealed that firms including Racepoint and Chime plc were earning as much as £2m per contract to bolster the reputation of regimes in Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Kazakhstan.

The firms have been providing communications advice to regimes mired in controversy over torture, corruption and free speech as autocratic governments seek to placate restless populations by a presenting a more media savvy image.

Foremost amongst them is Chime which provides advice to the Kremlin, Sri Lanka and Zambia. Their chairman, Lord Bell, founder of Saatchi and Saatchi defended the business stating: “If people want to communicate their argument we take the view that they are allowed to do so.”