Tim Bell
Tim Bell

Controversial British PR man Tim Bell, who made his name as Margaret Thatcher’s image-maker, died Aug 25. He was 77.

Leaving his post at Saatchi and Saatchi ad agency in 1979, Bell played a major role in Thatcher’s rise to power and handled communications for her during her prime minister stint and for the Conservative party.

Bell, who went on to form Bell Pottinger PR firm, handled controversial clients such as Saudi Arabia, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian ruler of Belarus.

He left the Bell Pottinger chairman role in 2016, a year before the firm imploded for its role in orchestrating a racist campaign in South Africa on behalf of the Gupta family.

Britain’s PR watchdog Public Relations and Communications Assn. expelled Bell Pottinger for its South African work.

The Financial Times reported that though Bell was very physically ill with vascular Parkinsonism, he was instrumental in getting Boris Johnson elected as UK leader of the Conservative party, which led to his installation as PM.