OPINION: THE BIG QUESTION - Would you be willing to do PR for great train robber Ronnie Biggs?

The fugitive great train robber Ronnie Biggs has chosen to return

to British justice (as predicted exclusively in PRWeek back in January)

He has received a mixed reception from the media.

ED VAIZEY - Consolidated Communications

'Yes. I am a former lawyer and believe everyone is entitled to

representation. He has given himself up and if he wants to put his side

of the story across, he is entitled to. We should adopt the cab rank

principle, which is that whether rich or poor, everyone is entitled to

be represented in the court of public opinion. The Sun brought him back

to face justice, which is more than any government has done and, as a

newspaper, it is entitled to get four or five pages of news coverage out

of that. Biggs's PR advisers should make clear that he's a patriot who

loves Britain. When he was sentenced, sentences were way over the top

compared with today. When people get three years for raping a disabled

pensioner, you have to consider that Biggs drove the getaway car and got

30 years.'


'Ronnie Biggs has got his PR act together already really. From a PR

point of view, Biggs would have to pass our agency's three standard

rules that we use in new business. The first question we'd ask is:

'could we do a good job?'. The answer would be 'yes', as he's got a high

profile already. The second would be: 'would our existing clients want

to meet him?'. And the answer to that question would also be 'yes'. But

the third question would have to be: 'has he got any budget?'.

Unfortunately the answer to that one is 'no, he probably doesn't', so we

would have to turn him away.'

ALEX ROYFFE - Royal Mail

'Having been vocal about the PR and sensationalist aspect of this

subject before, you may be surprised to hear me say 'yes'. If he shows

genuine remorse for the suffering he caused, I would do his PR, even

though the fees value would be very low. The story of a petty crook, who

gets in over his head and ends up living high off the hog in Brazil

would make a good movie. So I'd probably 'do a Max Clifford' and make

hay while the sun shines - with the proviso that Biggs makes amends. If

he has got remorse and wants to communicate that to the family of the

train driver then he should be helped to do that - anything he can do to

stop him being a burden to the rest of us. He would be great value on TV


JANE HOWARD - Republic

'No, we wouldn't do PR for Ronnie Biggs because what's going on at the

moment isn't really PR, it's sensationalism. If his PR people are merely

trying to get as much publicity as possible, then it is really just a

case of tabloid management for a relatively high-profile news story.

That is a personal decision for PR people to make. What Biggs really

needs right now is not a PRO, but a lawyer. Perhaps the person who is in

more need of a PR campaign is Biggs' son, who seems to have a different

point of view to get across. We like to work with clients where we can

move forward with them and develop relationships over a period of time

and Ronnie Biggs hasn't really got that much of a future in terms of

being able to build a relationship.'

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