Victoria Geoghegan
(Photo: Richard Poplak)
  • Victoria Geoghegan was central to the creation of the "white monopoly capital" campaign for the Gupta family, and was fired from Bell Pottinger before it collapsed under the weight of the scandal.
  • Now she's back.
  • The PR executive was reportedly approached by a headhunting firm commissioned by communications company Thoburns.

UK spin doctor Victoria Geoghegan, who was fired from PR company Bell Pottinger for her role in helping create the racially divisive “white monopoly capital” campaign on behalf of the Gupta family in 2017, has returned to a frontline post in UK public relations.

Geoghegan has been hired by small reputation management and communications agency Thoburns, the UK publication CorpComms reported. The PR executive was initially approached by a headhunting firm commissioned by Thoburns to find potential employees for Greentarget, a PR agency that it has now sold.

Geoghegan was most closely associated with the campaign for Oakbay Investments, a vehicle of the Gupta business family. The campaign led to the downfall of an agency that was once the UK’s largest, measured by fee income.

The law firm that Bell Pottinger retained to investigate its work for Oakbay and the Gupta family concluded that the company’s South African campaign was “potentially racially divisive” and breached ethical principles, Fin24 reported at the time. 

Bell Pottinger fired Geoghegan after sustained pressure by South African civic society around its relationships with the Guptas. 

Geoghegan was apparently introduced to the Gupta family by her father. Bell Pottinger initially claimed that work on the Gupta account she had brought to the company was above board, and dismissed as entirely untrue the allegation that it was stoking racial division in South Africa. But after South African activists secured an investigation by British regulators, Bell Pottinger fired Geoghegan, saying its "senior management have been misled" about campaigns around "economic apartheid".

The company later put itself up for sale, but failed to find a buyer and was shut down.

Thoburn says she has essentially been put in charge of restarting his agency’s PR activities after the Greentarget sale.

Geoghegan joins former Bell Pottinger partner Nick Lambert, who joined Thoburns in October 2017. Lambert also worked on the Oakbay account.

Thoburns does not publish details of its clients, but it has done work for the likes of Russian gold mining company Petropavlovsk.

In late 2016 it advertised its ability to influence governments, journalists, and others using a photo of then American President-Elect Donald Trump and the right-wing politician Nigel Farage.

In another ad featuring an image of Trump, the company said that “people with guts get heard.”

“They make the twitter timeline, the Brexit referendum and become the next President of the United States,” the ad read.

"At Thoburns we go beyond PR and advertising and look at different ways to say interesting things; our approach is to bring a provocative mind, and a different perspective and create more than a little fun on the way."

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