A handful of protesters assembled outside of Ruder Finn’s U.K. offices Tuesday, criticizing the firm’s work for Maldives, which is enmeshed in a political crisis.
RF picked up the embattled country’s tourism PR business in April after an RFP process, signing a three-month pact for strategic counsel and media relations work effective April 26 and worth at least $65K per month.
Signs held by participants in the July 24 protest outside of 1 Bedford Street, London, dubbed RF the “gold medalists of spin” and said the firm will “tell lies for money.”
Protesters outside of Ruder Finn's London office Tuesday. Photos via Twitter
"We are all in favor of free speech and we're very proud of the work we've done for them," said Emmanuel Tchividjian, senior VP and chief ethics officer of Ruder Finn, who noted the firm handled President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik's appearance at the Rio+20 Summit in late June, during which he reiterated the country's commitment to protecting the environment and providing a sustainable economic future.
RF’s contract is with the Maldives Marketing & PR Corp. The firm has defended the PR work, saying it carefully considered the “complexity” of the situation before signing on, noting the country is in a “period of change” and that it depends on tourism for the bulk of its economy.
Maldives’ elected president Mohamad Nasheed resigned under pressure in February after he ousted a top judge, sparking the crisis. Critics have called the action a coup.
A military-backed government has refused to hold elections and Nasheed last week was charged by prosecutors with illegally ordering the arrest of the judge.
Tourism is a key part of the country’s economy and it released an RFP in March for PR support to boost travel as international coverage of the political crisis ensued. Nasheed has urged travelers to stay away from the country.
Farah Faizal, former high commissioner to the Republic of Maldives from the U.K., said via Twitter that the action was held because Ruder Finn is “whitewashing” a “dictatorship” in the Indian Ocean country.