NEWS: Virgin prepared to tough out flak from lawsuit

The Virgin brand will not be damaged by a sexual harassment lawsuit against chairman Richard Branson, Will Whitehorn, Virgin corporate affairs director, told PR Week.

The Virgin brand will not be damaged by a sexual harassment lawsuit

against chairman Richard Branson, Will Whitehorn, Virgin corporate

affairs director, told PR Week.



Following revelations that Elizabeth Hlinko, former Virgin Atlantic

Airways PR executive in Manhattan, was suing Branson for harassment and

discrimination, Whitehorn said: ‘There will be a PR fallout but I do

not think it will rumble on much longer. In the States where such

lawsuits are very common none of the networks carried the story.’



Whitehorn said Branson had been aware of the PR repercussions when he

opted to fight the charges, rather than agreeing to Hlinko’s request for

an out-of-court settlement.



‘You cannot build a major group of businesses in the US and not be

prepared to stand up for your reputation. Richard is doing exactly the

right thing,’ he said.



According to Whitehorn, Hlinko had been asked to leave Virgin last July,

after two years. He denied this was the result of discrimination, as she

has claimed.



He said that Hlinko had never mentioned Branson’s alleged sexual

assault, which she says occurred at a 1994 London media party, to any

other Virgin staff member.



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