The fashion guru, who was arrested last year after being filmed yelling racist insults at restaurant-goers, was last night found guilty of ‘casting public insults based on origin, religious affiliation or ethnicity’, but escaped with a suspended £5,300 fine.
The British designer, who was sacked as Dior’s chief designer over the scandal, was ordered to shell out a symbolic single Euro to each of his three victims.The lack of severity of the punishment has been heavily criticised by racial equality groups and UK media.
‘There will be a lot of people out there who think he's got off lightly,’ said Richard Dawes, co-founder of celebrity crisis management experts Dawbell PR. ‘So what he does next is crucial.'
‘The verdict will make it tougher for him as some will feel he still needs to pay his dues. If he wants to go some way to restoring his reputation he'll need to address this through PR quickly and humbly.'
Dawes said Galliano’s case was a sensitive one, due to its association with race, but that the key to a successful damage-limitation PR campaign would be underlining that he deeply regretted his actions and was willing to make amends.
‘The public and media can be forgiving if they believe someone is genuinely sorry and strives to better themselves from an experience,’ he said.
Greg Wixted, board director and head of strategy at Xpert Communications Worldwide, said: ‘Galliano did apologise, but said he could not remember the events because of his "triple addiction" to alcohol, Valium and sleeping pills. As a figure in the public eye, he should set an example. This will only go to further damage John’s reputation.’
Jonathan Kirkby, founder and director of Instinct PR, added that a ‘slow-burn’ approach and adopting a low-key profile, favoured by disgraced celebrities Kate Moss and Chris Brown, would allow the designer to slowly work himself into public favour again.
'Galliano’s reputation is absolutely salvageable,’ he says. ‘Kate Moss was on the front cover of all the papers snorting a line up her nose but she went on to have one of the most successful years of her career.
‘He’s already called in one of his best PR favours, designing Kate Moss’ wedding dress, but ultimately keeping his head down for the next 16 months, coming up with great collections and perhaps returning with a design for someone like Adele, will allow people to forget the scandal and help position him as fashion’s golden boy again.'
The charge levied on Galliano could have carried a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and a £20,000 fine.