Duchess of York right to respond quickly following News of the World sting

The Duchess of York acted quickly following publication of a video showing her offering access to Prince Andrew for money, said celebrity PR advisers.

In the spotlight: Buckingham Palace
In the spotlight: Buckingham Palace

Sarah Ferguson was caught out in a News of the World sting yesterday, offering an undercover reporter posing as a businessman access to her former husband, who is a trade ambassador for Britain, for £500,000.

Ferguson's PR team quickly issued a statement yesterday, which said she was ‘regretful' and ‘devastated' by her actions.

Former News of the World editor and founder of PHA Media Phil Hall said: ‘I believe from a PR point of view the Duchess did the only thing she could in the circumstances. With overwhelming evidence against her a mea culpa was her only option. She then has to carry on with her life, not run away. The British public have a history of forgiving human frailties, as they have done with her before.

'People in the media spotlight like the Duchess of York need strong advisers. Someone who has earned as much as she has in the last 10 years should not be in the financial mess she is. The message clearly for us in the PR world is if the client won't listen to your stewardship, walk away.'

The Corporation chairman Gary Farrow added: ‘Sarah Ferguson was right to apologise. She kept it short and sweet, and to the point. It's probably best for her to go away and lay low for a while. She needs to try to do something that helps her become self-sufficient.'

He added: ‘The problem is she is without portfolio. She's a loose cannon and has no strategy. You cannot prepare for that.'

The Outside Organisation founder Alan Edwards also said Ferguson reacted well to the story. 'Sarah Ferguson's statement was quite good, at least she made a clean breast of it and didn't try to hide behind a smokescreen of half truths. I am not sure that the US route will work a second time though. Often in these instances, the situation has been common knowledge for ages, so the so called "sting" isn't quite the bolt from the blue that people sometimes pretend it is.'

Hall said the sting was evidence of the power of video and internet coming to the fore. ‘In the past when the News of the World ran this type of investigation, the chattering classes were up in arms accusing the paper of entrapment, setting honey traps or over-egging the incentive to persuade a celebrity to be indiscreet.

‘But when the public can see the so-called sting with their own eyes and hear the individual proactively boasting, opinion turns and the paper is no longer in the dock in the same way it used to be. It can fight actively to persuade public opinion the end justified the means.'

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