Legal PR blog

Law firm of the Week: Jackpot for Thompsons as bus driver’s cocaine innocence proved

Ralph Savage analyses how Thompsons Solicitors generated maximum coverage for their case

When news broke last week of a bus driver being fired after his bosses wrongly accused him of using cocaine, the media understandably jumped on the story.

With Thompsons Solicitors and the Unite Union pulling the PR strings, this story ensured strong coverage in both national and regional press.

On March 19th, a story you literally couldn’t make up told readers how ‘contaminated banknotes’ and a ‘flawed investigation’, had led to the unfair dismissal of fifty-five year old Alan Bailes. Alan, who had been employed as a bus driver for more than 22 years, was wrongly dismissed from First Bristol Limited for “gross misconduct” having tested positive for cocaine in a drug test at work.

As it turned out, Mr Bailes had another plausible explanation for the result but his employers wouldn’t listen in what an employment tribunal ultimately condemned as “a flawed investigation”.

Unite Legal Services – a trading name for the white labelled service provided by Thompsons Solicitors, launched the legal action and went on to secure unfair dismissal compensation for Mr Bailes.

Strong media coverage

Bus Driver Alan Bailes was wrongly dismissed by his employer
Bus Driver Alan Bailes was wrongly dismissed by his employer

Like many of the cases which feature in LFotW, Mr Bailes’ story is firmly in the David v Goliath camp, but achieving press coverage which shines a spotlight on the individuals’ advisers can be a challenge.

Six pieces of national coverage and a similar number from the client’s local media, all of which provide strong mentions for both the law firm and the union represent the culmination of considerable effort and co-operation between the claimant himself, lawyer Bruce Robin at Thompsons Solicitors and the firm’s PR team.

Case studies the key

With its connections to Unite, Thompsons has a ready-made source of case studies and a body with which claimants can identify and feel a personal affinity with. It goes without saying that law firms with similar referral arrangements should maximise the potential for co-marketing that case studies like this offer both sides. For the union, this kind of media exposure clearly demonstrates what membership can deliver while the law firm can ride on the coat tails of goodwill that collective action generates.

Legal PR Blog scores Gateley's performance across four media categories
Legal PR Blog scores Thompsons’ performance across four media categories
Post by: Ralph Savage / Website:
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.