Attorney and unnamed PR flank Cecil the Lion's killer in first media interview

Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who attained international notoriety in July after killing Cecil the Lion, has given what he said would be his only interview.

Walter Palmer (left) poses with a lion he killed on a previous hunting trip (Credit: Rex Shutterstock)
Walter Palmer (left) poses with a lion he killed on a previous hunting trip (Credit: Rex Shutterstock)

During the 20-minute interview, which appeared in Minnesota's Star Tribune on Sunday, Palmer was accompanied by
both Joe Friedberg – described by the paper as a "prominent" criminal defence attorney – as well as "a public relations consultant", who was mentioned only once in the piece, and was not named.

Friedberg said he was an unpaid consultant and claimed that Palmer "doesn’t need a lawyer" unless he is charged with a crime.

Palmer maintained that his actions were legal, with Friedberg telling the paper: "Everything was done properly. This was a legal hunt for a lion in Zimbabwe. And because of the professionalism of the people who had to help him, a lion was taken."

While he stopped short of apologising for killing Cecil, he did go on to express "regret".

The dentist confirmed that he'd been keeping a low-profile because his family had received threats via social media. Palmer also used the interview to refute reports he had paid $50,000 for the hunt and had taken 40 hours to kill the lion after it was initially wounded. However, he did not provide any specific details.

He also did not comment when the Star Tribune asked if he would be willing to comply with requests to return to Zimbabwe to answer legal allegations.

Previously, J Austin & Associates was catapulted to worldwide attention when it took on Palmer as a client. However, the crisis comms specialist ended the relationship after just 24 hours due to critical backlash. 

In a PRWeek survey, 9 out of 10 professionals said they would not have represented Palmer.

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