Maximum Impact 03.03.06

I’VE known Mohamed Al Fayed for many years and I believe that he’s never been the same man since the death of his son, Dodi, in 1997. The sparkle he always had has not completely disappeared, but has dimmed considerably.

It’s awful enough to lose a son, but then to have found it impossible to get the truth as to how and why he died adds terrible insult to his injury. Having seen him recently, it’s good to report that after all this time a lot of the missing sparkle is back. He believes that the truth about the “accident” that killed Dodi and Diana could finally be coming out.

Lord Stevens – the former Met chief – has vowed to get as many answers as possible and has indicated that many serious questions still need to be answered satisfactorily.

Richard Desmond has been a loyal friend and supporter of Mohamed and in recent years, through his newspapers, has been the sole media aid in Mohamed’s search for justice. Other newspapers are now starting to support Mohamed and express their own doubts as to the official version of events in Paris.

I’d still like to see an open, official, public inquiry. To me this is the only way the British public will be able to see and hear for themselves exactly what everyone involved has to say about the events leading up to, and including, the fatal accident. It may well be that in such a public inquiry the answers we don’t get will be far more enlightening than those that are answered.

I really hope Mohamed gets the answers he desperately longs for and deserves; however I personally remain convinced that Lord Stevens – with the best will in the world – will never be allowed to get the answers that Mohamed and the British public are fully entitled to.

CAN a PR ever be justified in lying to protect a client from damaging media exposure?

Most people will already know my views and I have readily admitted to often being economical with the truth to protect guilty as well as innocent clients. However, my views on the subject, recently stated in PR Week, have upset many “honourable” members of the PR profession.

In my defence I would claim to be consistently far more open and honest than many of the journalists I have dealt with. However, in an attempt to justify my words and actions, this week I challenged the inhabitants of planet PR to the following debate: “Is lying to protect a client an acceptable PR practice?”

PR Week has taken up my gauntlet and intends staging a debate on the subject. Hopefully this could provide a stimulating and revealing evening’s entertainment for journalists.

The fee for this column is donated to the Rhys Daniels Trust

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