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Reputation – Playing Fast and Loose with the Law

There has been fuss today in the news over David Beckham dodging a speeding charge (see BBC). While not a huge fan of celebrity, I have always found that Mr Beckham comes across quite well when interviewed. I found this story to have three interesting PR angles.

The lawyer involved has previous for successfully defending people in the public eye from receiving a conviction for speeding. This new episode will not harm his reputation. The association with high profile persons, beating the system and championing the beleaguered motorist will sit well with many.

The legal system, though, shows itself to be something that is more of a plaything of the rich and famous. Simply, all you have to do, is to be able to afford the right ‘brains’ and you are half way to walking away from your transgression unscathed. This comes as little surprise to most of us mere mortals – I myself have had three speeding tickets in my 35 years. All three, no more than 6mph over the designated limit breached. Having attended a speed awareness course, you do relearn that 6mph on top of a limit could be the difference between life or death – so it is certainly not trivial.

I am not sure David Beckham really gains much kudos out of this though. Circumstances of the speeding are not reported. We all make mistakes, genuinely miss signs, get distracted and the right foot suddenly gets a bit heavy – the kind of excuses we make for ourselves in these circumstances. However, like it or not, the limits are there for a reason.

Now, I don’t know if receiving three penalty points is a critical number for him or not, but I imagine his legal fees are somewhat more than the standard fine for the crime. Alright, a conviction has to be declared for insurance – but I doubt that is much of a financial issue for him either. I don’t know how he makes most of his money these days – but much of it seems to be based on who he is – or rather he has built a valuable reputation over many years. The potential cost to that reputation is far greater and seems like a unnecessary risk to take. I doubt this episode will massively damage him but it does set a poor example. Having admitted speeding, he could have added to his positive reputational value by taking a different stance.


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