‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ PT Barnum is rumoured to have said. It’s certainly not true when editorial coverage ruins a reputation, a company or a career.
A recent court case has damaged the reputation and hindered the careers of Liam Allan. This London based student was accused of rape. He was on bail for two years and if found guilty may have been sentenced to 10 years in prison and placed on the sex offenders register. When the prosecution barrister found out that the mobile phone records of the ‘victim’ has not been disclosed and that they provided strong evidence for the defence, he said that the case should be dropped and should not have reached court.
While the name of the accuser, the ‘victim’ has, as usual, not been made public, Liam’s name and reputation have been in the media as the accused for two years. He now has to get over this crisis and rebuild his reputation.
When a murder took place in a house in Bristol owned by retired teacher Chris Jefferies, he was arrested and his name plastered over the front pages of the national press. He was treated as if guilty until another tenant was accused and later found guilty.
Several lawyers have been arguing for some time that there should not be any editorial coverage of the names of the accused until a verdict is reached.
Others argue that PR for the criminal case, naming the accused, helps to bring forward other victims and witnesses who can help to achieve justice. Is it just to destroy a reputation, potentially, in the process? Further victims can always come forward when the original case is over and reported.
If creating several court cases rather than one is the price to pay for not destroying a reputation and avoiding bad PR, then it’s a price worth paying. No PR is better than bad PR when PR unjustly destroys a reputation.