THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Does everyone have the right to PR representation?

General Pinochet hired Patrick Robertson last week to help manage media coverage

General Pinochet hired Patrick Robertson last week to help manage

media coverage

Amanda Barnes Amnesty International

’Yes. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. So long as the

law is respected, even the most odious people must be allowed to use

whatever means they choose to communicate their views. However, it is

important that the PR industry is ethical and does not allow itself to

be used to misrepresent reality or obscure what the public have a right

to know.’

Ellen Taverner

Credit Suisse

’Of course everyone should have access to professional advice. However,

in practice I would never be prepared to put a client before my


There must be an ethical dimension to the kind of work we do. And there

are circumstances in which an individual has forfeited the right to my

counsel, however much money they have to pay.’

Ardi Kolah


’As an established principle of jurisprudence, everyone is entitled to a

fair trial, including General Pinochet, as he discovered from his

hospital bed. And so it would be wholly inconsistent to deny access to

PR representation in a modern democracy. But to establish this as a

’right’ in the same sense as the European Convention of Human Rights

would be meaningless and unworkable.’

Stephen Lock


’PR people are far too precious and picky about their own ethical

universe and who they will work with. We should be more like


Professional PR people (worthy of the term) should not shrink from

representing the unpopular or unpleasant. Good rebuttal is just as much

a person’s right in the court of public opinion as in a court of law. We

gave Nazis lawyers to defend themselves at Nuremberg, we should allow

General Pinochet his PR today.’

Charles Stewart-Smith

Luther Pendragon

’The strength of our democracy should allow anyone representation.

If we do not, we become as oppressive as the regimes we despise. But to

represent well, it is better to have some sympathy for the client. Those

sympathetic to Pinochet may not be best placed to understand the

sophistications of a free press and an annoyingly independent


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