Picture: Twitter

Johannesburg - Former chairperson of PR firm Bell Pottinger, Lord Tim Bell, denied he had anything to do with the Gupta campaign in a recent interview. 

Lord Bell revealed this during an interview with BBC's Newsnight, during which he gave insight into the firm's involvement with the controversial family. 

His interview followed the resignation of the UK-based firm's CEO, James Henderson, over the "fake news" scandal that's been plaguing the firm for months. 

"I have to take responsibility for what happened because I was running the ship," Henderson said. 

"I did continually ask questions and debate whether we should keep the account. I had the account under constant review, but I trusted people."

Speaking to host Kristy Wark, Lord Bell revealed that while he went to South Africa to try and secure the Gupta account, he declined to handle the account because there was "a conflict of interest". 

"I went there at the suggestion of Chris, Victoria Geoghegan's father, to go meet the Guptas to discuss whether they needed PR assistance or not. 

"We talked for several hours and had a meeting to discuss what we could do and I came back and said to Henderson that while it's an interesting piece of business, we can't handle it because it's a conflict of interest."

His claim was immediately refuted by Wark, who revealed an email correspondence from Bell saying the opposite. 

According to the email, Bell said that the trip had been a great success and that a deal had been put forward in which the firm would earn £100 000 (approx R17 million) per month plus costs to head the campaign. 

Bell, it was revealed, would oversee the account. 

Bell, however, stuck to his guns and reiterated the stance that he had no role in landing the account, shifting the blame to other figures linked to the account. 

"The company submitted a proposal, via Geoghegan, to the Guptas or their representative. I was merely the father figure...," he claimed. 

Bell also blamed Henderson and said he was right to resign as he was "directly" involved in the deal. 

Probed on whether he would take any blame for the downfall of the PR firm, Bell refuted this, saying he was innocent and had nothing to do with its collapse. 

"I don't take any responsibility for something that happened 18 months ago. I resigned from the company in August last year and one of the reasons I gave for leaving was the Gupta account," he said. 

It has since been announced that the PR firm is up for sale.

Watch the full interview below: