Last week I was grateful for the Bell Pottinger-crafted online harassment campaign the Guptas inflicted on journalists and commentators. I was grateful because it made it easy to recognise the playbook when brought out from a different angle. My firm, Intellidex, had published a detailed report on short selling and Viceroy Research, known for its reports on Steinhoff and Capitec. Within hours fake accounts had sprung up on Twitter alleging all sorts of spurious conflicts and other alleged misdeeds, not only about us but about several journalists and hedge fund managers alleged to have interacted with us, including journalists from Business Day. This is exactly the Gupta harassment strategy: target individuals you believe, rightly or wrongly, are involved in exposing you. And then target them with nonsense until they shrink from the public domain.It also creates a distraction, which is useful because it shifts focus from the serious points and arguments being made. Harassment and int...

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