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Oil Spill

Lawyers Understand BP’s ‘Infuriatingly Vague’ PR Response

Posted Jun 24, 2010 6:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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BP is facing a balancing act in its public statements about the Gulf oil spill.

To the public, its response may appear “infuriatingly vague,” the Associated Press reports. Last week, for example, BP chief executive officer Tony Hayward declined or failed to answer 65 questions during a congressional hearing.

University of Florida law professor Michael Siegel says there is a reason for the reticence. "BP must weigh the cost of admitting things that could be used against it later against the cost now of bad publicity," Siegel told the wire service.

WilmerHale and its partner Jamie Gorelick are representing BP in congressional and Justice Department investigations. But Hayward did not have a lawyer by his side as he answered questions, a public-relations plus for BP, according to Siegel.

BP has also pledged to waive attorney-client privilege and share its internal probe of the oil spill. Siegel calls the decision "a bold move given they don't know what it will turn up.”

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