‘We’re gaining traction,’ Jon Aarons says of New York firm Sard Verbinnen’s recent venture into Europe through London, a mission he’s been tasked with as managing director. Aarons’s 32-year career in strategic communications started when he advised former foreign secretary David Owen. He spent 17 years at FTI Consulting, before moving to Sard Verbinnen in 2017. ‘I advise on issues where the stakes are high, where the reputation of a whole organisation is exposed,’ he tells Spear’s, adding that where his knowledge is most useful to private individuals is where ‘personal reputation is intertwined with corporate reputation’.
Welcome to the Spear’s Indices
Each issue of Spear’s Magazine contains an exclusive Index prepared by the experts at the Spear’s Research Unit identifying the very best providers of professional services to the high net worth audience. Comprehensive, authoritative and indispensible, these are the definitive lists of the top HNW advisers in Britain working in property, family law, wealth management, tax and trust, alternative assets and reputation management. Once a year the Indices are updated and expanded to form the core of the Spear’s 500, the bible of HNW advisers. Go to the drop down menu below for the latest indices of top professionals from the Spear’s Research Unit
Reputation Managers 2020
Jenny Afia is in an excellent mood when she meets Spear’s. Last year she had told us: ‘I want two of the world’s most influential women in particular as my clients.’ This year, one of those women became her client. ‘I really admire talent, I love the celebrity world, and it’s amazing that these people who are world leaders – I mean, they have to pay to speak to me,’ she confides, incredulous. However, just because she has bagged a ‘bucket list’ client, it doesn’t’ mean she can relax. ‘I lie awake worrying about how to be better,’ she says.Entertainment clients are her niche, and she’s bullish about the need to defend their privacy. ‘We turn away a lot of clients, on a daily basis. Everyone nowadays has to be careful of who they associate with, so when we take on a case it’s generally something we really believe in,’ […]
Hanna Basha was nominated for Spear’s Reputation Lawyer of the Year in 2019, after a successful 12 months in her pre-publication niche, working with hedge fund managers, business leaders and other prominent figures. Basha, who has worked for Carter-Ruck and Schillings, has noticed a rise in awareness among HNWs about reputation. ‘They can pre-empt a reputational crisis in a way that I don’t think people could do ten years ago,’ she says. ‘When the banking crisis hit, the guys who were heading up the banks were like rabbits in the headlights – they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know what was coming, and they were on the front pages of every paper for probably a week.’
According to Gideon Benaim, a former Spear’s award-winner, the work of a reputation protection lawyer has become ‘more about giving advice than going to court’. He notes that scarcely a handful of defamation cases have made it to court in the past year: ‘There just aren’t that many trials. The Simkins partner has noticed an increase in work accounted for by HNWs and businesspeople. He also represents a number of celebrities and sports stars.In 2018 Benaim picked up the gong for ‘Case of the Year’ at the Spear’s Wealth Management Awards in recognition of his landmark battle on behalf of Sir Cliff Richard in his case against the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police. The High Court ruled that the BBC infringed on the singer’s privacy in its reporting of a police raid on his home in 2014. His client was awarded £210,000 damages and £850,000 on account of legal […]
Arlo Brady, head of The Brewery, parent brand of communications powerhouse freuds, found his way into the field ‘completely intentionally’. ‘I was really taken by an exciting industry,’ he says when Spear’s queries his career change from geology to academia to comms. In 2014 Brady, who has a PhD from Cambridge, crossed paths with Matthew Freud, who hired him as a special adviser to counsel family businesses across the globe, including the Mars family. An impressed Freud promoted him to CEO in 2017. Brady loves most the role’s variability – the interplay between corporate comms, individual ideas and social media. ‘The question that people start with is, “How can we improve our reputation?”,’ he says. ‘Quite often our response to that is, “Be better.”’ He often helps with creating ‘crazy, experiential content’ to make branding more engaging, as he finds that ‘a lot of corporate communications are boring’. What makes […]
AV Premier Marketing is a firm renowned for dissection. Simon Brewer founded the firm 22 years ago and initially focused on consumer PR for luxury brands, but he would often come into contact with UHNWs ‘who sometimes need PR themselves’. ‘The most important principle with UHNWs is trust,’ he says. Being available when you’re needed is crucial too, and he prides himself on getting back to clients within 40 minutes of being contacted. Brewer deals with traditional crises, as well as with threats brought about by social media. ‘Working with individuals is more rewarding, because you have a far more defined role,’ he adds. ‘You really can manage things well.’
Carter-Ruck senior associate Persephone Bridgman Baker combines her intellectual property practice with work in the firm’s esteemed media litigation team. ‘My clients ultimately want a discreet legal expert who will fight hard for their reputation and guard their privacy as fiercely as they would,’ she tells Spear’s. It’s been a busy year for Bridgman Baker, who secured a ‘major victory’ against the Sun on behalf of MP Richard Burgon, who was awarded £30,000 in the High Court for libel. Social media plays a prominent part in her work, with platforms having ‘major impacts on the lifestyles of those in the spotlight, positive and unfortunately and all too frequently negatively’.
‘The reported demise of the defamation industry that’s been reported every year for the last 20-odd years that I’ve been involved doesn’t seem to have happened,’ Lee & Thompson’s Mike Brookes jokes to Spear’s. Indeed, it’s been another year of ‘same old same old’ for the firm’s head of reputation protection, who is accustomed to working for some of the UK’s most high-profile names, including Jude Law and One Direction. The firm has also seen an upsurge in work for HNW private clients. ‘It’s nice to be involved in that area more and more, and that’s continuing,’ Brookes says. ‘It’s not just taking on the tabloids any more.’
Clintons made headlines in October when it was reported to be the law firm enlisted by Prince Harry in his allegations of phone hacking against the Sun and Daily Mirror. Head of privacy and reputation management Roddy Chisholm Batten is tight-lipped on the details. ‘It’s kept us incredibly busy over the past few months,’ he chuckles. Chisholm Batten is a leading name in phone-hacking cases. ‘We’ve been doing it for the best part of eight years now,’ he says. ‘It keeps coming and there’s lots of it still to come.’ He has also covered claims for defamation, malicious falsehood, misuse of private information, breach of confidence, data protection and harassment.
Dominic Crossley, a partner in Payne Hicks Beach’s litigation department, has seen a rise in inter-family disputes arriving at his desk, as well as a range of ‘stressful circumstances’ that concern UHNWs. ‘You’ve got very short time pressure,’ he tells Spear’s, which often requires a complex judgement call. ‘It’s about getting in there early, getting to the source of the information and stopping it there, persuading them that it’s unlawful, it’s not the right thing to do, or that there are other ways to deal with their grievance.’ What’s legally possible isn’t always practical in reality, though: ‘If you’re getting embroiled in very heavy litigation, there are all sorts of reasons why [an injunction] might not be the best way ahead, in the long term.’ He says Google’s responses to requests have been ‘very unpredictable’ recently. ‘But they have established a process – and they do respond,’ he says. ‘If […]
Much of the most effective reputation and privacy protection work is taking place behind closed doors, rather than in court,’ the statesman-like David Engel tells Spear’s. The head of Addleshaw Goddard’s renowned global reputation and information practice advises a host of high-profile names, owner-managers and family offices. He has worked on a number of landmark cases, including the UK’s first internet libel case and one of the first privacy and data protection claims. ‘Addleshaw Goddard is almost unique in providing this specialist service with the backing of the strength in depth of a large and respected litigation department, and in a full service commercial firm with many complementary specialisms and our international offices,’ he explains. ‘Virtually none of this is offered by the smaller media law boutiques.’ It’s been another busy year for the department, which has enjoyed a second successive year of revenue growth, he reports. ‘As the internet […]
‘Another record year,’ announces John Evans, who began Hawthorn in 2013 and has grown from a oneman band to 30-strong operation. Last year saw revenue growth of 50 per cent across strategic communications, capital markets and private client departments, and a ‘significant’ family office increase. He advises clients in financial services, TMT, engineering, property and retail sectors, plus many of Hawthorn’s private clients in business, politics and entertainment. Evans’ experience of building a company in London and India, raising finances and seeing it through to exit, gives the firm an edge: ‘You get a good understanding of what clients go through.
Chelgate’s CEO is an experienced media hand, having established the first foreign PR business in China, led Hill + Knowlton’s Asia Pacific operations and chaired Burson-Marsteller UK – before setting up his own boutique firm. Expert in managing crises and acute issues, he works primarily with corporate, educational and international government clients. Although UK-based, the firm has global tentacles. ‘There’s one African country where I’ve counselled three of the last four presidents,’ Terence FaneSaunders says. Usually, what matters most is not what you say, but what you do: ‘You look at getting the behaviour right first,’ he says, ‘then the communications.
The thoughtful Portland partner Patrick Forbes speaks fluent Arabic and has 11 years’ experience in the Gulf, mostly in Qatar. He joined Portland two years ago when it acquired the business he had founded in Doha. Working alongside his colleague Philip Hall, Forbes heads up Portland’s new private client offering. ‘As a firm, we have worked with a number of high-profile individuals on philanthropy, financial communications and by offering digital support,’ he explains, noting that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is among its clients. ‘But, up until now, we haven’t brought it all together and worked specifically on their personal profiles.’
Few lawyers can claim to have taken on Google and emerged a winner. But this is what Claire Gill did in 2018, when she fought a ‘right to be forgotten’ case and won. The High Court ruled that search results relating to a conviction received by her client, a businessman, should be removed.‘The case addressed what the judge called “novel questions which have never yet been considered in this court”,’ Gill explained to Spear’s. Indeed, the Carter-Ruck partner is no stranger to headline-grabbing cases, having won a libel case for Boris Berezovsky.Gill acts for HNWs, politicians, governments and corporations, advising on sensitive defamation, privacy and data protection issues.
‘For a “boutique”-style firm in London to be ranked seventh globally in M&A league tables says a great deal about the quality and scale of the companies and transactions that we advised upon last year,’ Andrew Grant tells Spear’s. Tulchan has provided strategic financial and corporate communications advice to the likes of Unilever, Comcast and Whitbread in the past year or so. Clients have also included Marks & Spencer, Legal & General, Standard Life and Prudential. Whenever Grant deals with the CEOs and chairs of these major companies or their City advisers, he explains: ‘They usually want the answer to the question, “What would the markets/media think if we…?”. We are expert and discreet advisers on matters which are strategically important to boards and those that sit on them.’ Grant founded Tulchan in 2000 with the help of investor relations expert Brian Rafferty, who was based in New York. ‘He […]
Beatrice Giribaldi Groak was a strategic adviser to an array of asset managers, international banks and private equity firms at Lansons, before she was hired to join Digitalis’s ‘consistently growing’ operation. The trilingual client director (she speaks fluent French and Italian) recently coordinated a project with Collyer Bristow’s private client team to address risks from digital, reputational and legal points of view. Outside the office, she regularly speaks on subjects such as online radicalisation and dangers of the dark web, and is the vice-chair of the International Committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Phil Hall founded PHA Media (now the PHA Group) in 2005, with three simple aims in mind: ‘I wanted to work with passionate people, I wanted to be known for delivering a strategy, not just talking a good game, and I wanted the industry to talk about us.’ He has certainly achieved those aims. The agency, which started with one client (Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills), now has 60 active businesses and high-profile individuals on its books, employing more than 50 staff at its HQ. Its reputation management business has established a sturdy reputation, with leading law firms such as Schillings and Carter-Ruck enlisting it to advise clients. ‘We know what we do matters to our clients and letting them down is not an option,’ says Hall. Its crisis team covers the full gamut of prevention and management, equipping clients with personalised services to defuse crisis and mitigate risk. […]
Affable New Zealander Philip Hall qualifi ed as a barrister and solicitor there before moving to Britain 15 years ago. Since then his career has revolved around strategic communications – previously for Finsbury and now as a senior partner at Portland, where he leads the fi rm’s disputes team and its revamped private client offering. As a specialist in litigation communications and crisis management, Hall says his HNW clients often arrive ‘when something has gone terribly wrong’. He must be doing something right, as an increasing fl ow of referrals from law fi rms has helped grow Portland’s disputes team to 12 people. ‘I think lawyers now know that strategic comms – not just reputation work – is an essential part of managing the issues that private clients face,’ he says. ‘The number of fi rms that come to us wanting to make sure comms is baked into these complex […]
Charlotte Harris made her name in the phone-hacking scandal, when she took on News International on behalf of her clients and played a key role in the Leveson Inquiry. Previously a partner at Mishcon de Reya, Harris joined Kingsley Napley in 2015 to launch its media and reputation management unit. She works with HNWs, MPs, celebrities and sports stars. ‘The thing that really makes people nervous is whether or not they’re going to get a knock at the door and someone’s going to take a photograph of them,’ Harris has previously told Spear’s. ‘So it’s all about trying to help clients and protect them in those anxiety-ridden circumstances.’ Harris is also a board director at Hacked Off.
‘The word “PR” doesn’t really cover it,’ explains Patrick Harrison when Spear’s visits him at Weber Shandwick’s offices. ‘What we do is much broader than that. We’re more of a mixed communications agency – we provide services all the way from deep data analytics through to public affairs and media relations.’ A former adviser to Prince Charles, Harrison began his career in journalism before handling communications for the prison service. ‘Like all industries, we are being disrupted,’ he says of the technology that is making communication easier and more difficult to control. ‘Like we advise our clients, we need to stay up to date with that and embrace it.’
It’s no secret that Jonathan Hawker is a crisis comms heavyweight who has worked with contentious cases of every nature, from ‘intricate’ white-collar crime (including what he considers to be the largest fraud in continental Europe) to those involving HNWs who ‘fall victim to a crime in a way that you cannot fathom’. Whatever the challenge, Hawker often has innovative solutions to problems, and has confi ded once to Spear’s that he could ‘mitigate pretty much anything’. It is for this, and repeat peer recommendations, that he has been named a top ten adviser in this Index since 2015. Despite the accolades, the enigmatic Hawker still remains the same one-man band since his departure from FTI Consulting in 2014. He says that large PR fi rms who expand on the basis of a ‘top-line growth’ forecast are no longer sustainable, citing the model as one of the factors that led […]
David Hawkins has had a varied career, with spells in the arts, technology, politics and wealth management as is reflected in the range of services offered by his firm. Cliveden Advisory spans government advisory, media relations, business development and partnerships in the luxury and art worlds. After university, he became a lobbyist for tech companies, then worked in Downing Street’s policy unit. He worked for a UHNW Indian family before becoming MD of Grazeley Family Office Advisory. He has worked in the Middle East, notably as acting art fair director for Art Bahrain Across Borders, returning to run his own art events under the Cliveden banner.
‘Of course, it’s rare to fi nd the Andrew Honnors of reputation,’ a senior trusted adviser recently told Spear’s when asked to name the top managers he would recommend to others. Often, private client advisers are benchmarked against the Greenbrook managing partner, who is recognised for his decades of experience in fi nancial, corporate and political communications. His career started when he worked on political campaigns in both Britain and the US, and he was a special adviser to the UK government in the Nineties. After Brunswick and Tulchan, he had a stint advising News UK before launching Greenbrook as a specialist consultancy for the investment industry. In fact, Greenbrook, which counts Goldman Sachs and RBS among past clients, is one of the fi rst PR agencies to establish a dedicated hedge fund practice. Honnor has previously noted that clients ‘don’t deal with traditional fi rms any more’, explaining: ‘We’re […]
Spear’s meets John Kelly fresh from his success at our Wealth Management Awards, where he was crowned Reputation Management Lawyer of the Year. In 2017 the Harbottle & Lewis partner won a settlement – described as one of the largest to go through the UK courts – for Melania Trump, over the Mail’s false claims about her past. (Other clients have included Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Madonna.) However, Kelly explains, the vast majority of his work for HNW and high-profile clients this year has been ‘preventative’. It’s far better, he says, if you don’t have to ‘put the genie back in the bottle’. This kind of work is aided by a set of ‘personal protection principles’ that Harbottle has drawn up for its clients to clarify what kind of treatment is and isn’t acceptable at the hands of the press. ‘A lot of people put up with nonsense for […]
Digitalis is unique in the sense that it’s powered by proprietary technology, in which founder Dave King has ‘invested many millions’ to help HNWs and their families combat reputational, physical and cyber-security threats online. The process starts with mining an individual or family’s entire digital footprint to then monitor where it’s published. ‘We know within six minutes and help lawyers jump into action, before an investigative journalist splashes it on a tabloid,’ he says. The legally trained King has been called upon by FTSE, Fortune and governmental advisers for advice on cyber-security or reputational threats and even ‘the topic of disinformation today’.
Duncan Lamont is known for being fiercely protective of his clients. When a newspaper asks questions about a client, he says it’s often enough just to ring the legal department and threaten an injunction. He describes one case where he took issue with every inaccuracy in a Guardian article and successfully encouraged the paper to ‘pick on someone else’. Lamont, whose clients include broadcasters and producers, journalists, sports stars, celebrities and other HNWs, reports that what they want in a crisis is ‘confidence and a clarity’ that their adviser has seen it all and knows what they’re doing. With a wealth of experience and a mastery of his discipline, he delivers exactly that.
Sara Latham came to public consciousness this year, having been appointed communications secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Latham was hired from freuds, where she was a managing partner. An industry insider said that during her stint there she ‘oversaw global corporate accounts with a particular emphasis on executive thought leadership’. A dual British-American citizen, Latham worked for Bill Clinton in the late Nineties and served as senior campaign adviser to Hillary Clinton during 2016. Indeed, when Hillary popped up at Frogmore Cottage in November for a friendly chat with Meghan, it was reported that Latham was behind the visit.
These days Stuart Leach specialises in advising HNW clients on litigation communciations and crisis management. But the former advertising executive turned barrister turned reputation manager has had a varied career. It began in adland, where Leach was part of teams that launched the Red Bull brand and won a golden lion at Cannes. He was called to the Bar in 2004 before again changing course in 2013 when he took up a senior role at Bell Pottinger. That move followed a conversation with the late Lord Bell, who advised him to combine law with his strategic communication skills. ‘He supported me when I left the Bar,’ Leach tells Spear’s. ‘I was lucky to learn from him how to work with UHNW clients in difficulty.’ Leach established his own firm, Pagefield Global, in 2017 before joining Montfort last year. When Spear’s catches up with Leach over coffee he explains that, while […]
Charles Lewington’s standing in the field has grown exponentially since he founded Hanover in 1998 on the back of a career in Downing Street (he was John Major’s press secretary) and political journalism. He’s since grown Hanover from a staff of one to a team of 150 consultants in four locations around the world. It’s not resting on its laurels: it announced plans in April to double in size over the next five years. In a world of disruptive technologies, political ambiguity and shifting markets, Lewington is prescient on how businesses are increasingly realising the need for high-level strategic consultancy to anticipate, advise and act on regulatory, legislative and reputational issues. On challenges for modern companies, he has told Spear’s: ‘The problem with cyberattacks is you don’t get much of a handle on the… data that’s gone missing quickly enough for you to go out and firmly tell the world […]
Alex McCready began her career at Linklaters, having read law at Cambridge. ‘I soon realised that the part of the job I really enjoyed was working directly with clients to help them solve problems. So on qualification I joined Schillings and spent eight years there, working with a broad range of HNW clients solving complex problems,’ she says. McCready joined Vardags in October 2018 and has recently helped a client tackle paparazzi and tabloid magazines (in multiple jurisdictions) that were publishing photos of her and her baby. ‘I feel really strongly that everyone deserves a private life,’ she says. ‘It felt great to be able to assist and give the client and her family a sense of privacy and freedom back.’
More than 45 years of navigating through the highways and byways of counsel and communications has made David McDonough realise that the highest echelons can bring about a certain ‘corporate loneliness’ for HNWs. ‘Success… can harbour often undiscussed and unformed ambitions, which only adds to a sense of isolation,’ he tells Spear’s from Sanctuary’s Counsel’s abode next to Westminster Abbey. His role is to help his clientele – individuals from the ‘mid-40s success bracket’ across politics, industries and corporations – with ‘existentially’ satisfying opportunities. ‘We could help design another chapter in your life… which will give you pleasure rather than just buying and selling mansions and building exotic cars,’ he says. ‘It’s about capturing that ambition and trying to make it reality.’ Sanctuary Counsel itself is a reinvention of the practice previously known as Norris McDonough LLP. Despite ongoing expansion, he stresses that the structure of advice will remain concise […]
Former News of the World associate news editor Neil McLeod joined PHA Media (now PHA Group) in 2011 and became director of strategic communications in November 2019. He is part of the firm’s esteemed specialist crisis and reputation team. ‘Fully auditing the risks of a potential media crisis and having a plan in place should the worst happen is key,’ says the firm. ‘Our specialist team will put together a proactive plan, as well as training your key spokespeople to handle difficult questions from the media.’ McLeod works closely with corporate and high-profile clients across a range of sectors, including financial and legal.
Flying in a Lear jet across Africa to a war zone to take instructions from a government minister accused of corruption’ ranks among the more interesting cases for Razi Mireskandari, whose mantra is ‘90 per cent perspiration, 10 per cent inspiration’. Mireskandari is managing partner and head of dispute resolution at Simons Muirhead & Burton. One notable case was that of Andrew Miller, whose claim against Associated Newspapers went to the Supreme Court twice before he won. ‘The final success in the Miller litigation after five-plus years, especially given the profile and attention the case attracted in the sector, was gratifying,’ says Mireskandari.
A part of the Simkins team that represented Sir Cliff Richard in his landmark case against the BBC, Jon Oakley enjoys the personal side of dealing with clients. ‘You’re working with people at what is often one of the most stressful times of their professional or personal life,’ says Oakley, who joined Simkins in 2013. ‘Where clients feel valued is in you being able to apply the law to their personal situation and for them to feel that you can really fight their corner.’The reverberations from the Sir Cliff Richard case continue. ‘He did that because he felt a duty to try to make sure that no one in the future would suffer like he did,’ Oakley says of his former client.
One of the UK’s most respected communications advisers, David Rigg founded Project Associates in 1997 after recognising the need for real expertise in strategic communications, and assembling a team that includes the Spear’s recommended Michael Farrant. His firm is extremely private – it doesn’t publish its clients – but Rigg has reportedly worked on the personal communications for Martin Sorrell recently. A former communications director at Camelot, Rigg’s experience is storied. He’s given 7,500 broadcast interviews, and has worked in more than 100 countries in various sales, marketing and senior management positions.
Jo Sanders moved to Withers in February to take over its London-based private client team. (Her predecessor, Amber Melville-Brown, has moved to head up the US branch.) ‘It was a very natural progression,’ says Sanders, a former journalist and media relations executive. ‘People want to know what’s happening to their information,’ she says of the rise in contentious data protection cases. ‘GDPR has really highlighted that for people.’ She believes a reputation management plan should be built into all HNWs’ legal strategies: ‘Privacy is a right that everybody has, and you need to think about how you want to exercise that right ahead of privacy being breached.’
A giant on the British legal scene for more than three decades, Keith Schilling is credited with groundbreaking rulings and changing UK privacy law. His firm has achieved many firsts since its founding in 1984 – not least the landmark House of Lords decision in favour of Naomi Campbell’s 2004 breach of privacy claim against the Daily Mirror. ‘I felt such invasions of privacy and unjust damage to reputation weren’t right. It didn’t feel fair,’ he told Spear’s. Since 2014, the firm has more than doubled in size and opened an office in New York. In 2019, Schillings was chosen by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to act for them in their case against the Mail on Sunday.
Niri Shan has been described as a ‘polished operator’ by a contemporary, and one can see why. ‘It’s my USP,’ he tells Spear’s, ‘I try to deal with things in a low-key, collaborative way – we’re not super-aggressive in our approach.’ The Taylor Wessing partner, who works in the firm’s ‘strategic partner’ team advising both claimants and defendants, describes an instance when he resolved a particularly salacious allegation involving high-profile individuals ‘through one letter and a series of phone calls’. ‘I got 30 articles taken down,’ he says, adding that his dual advisory role means he has long-standing relationships with the lawyers working for media companies.Shan has been bombarded with right-to-be-forgotten requests from clients, many from the Middle East and Russia, who are finding that old Google articles are affecting their applications to open UK bank accounts. ‘I had a Russian family come to me with what they thought was […]
Jason Stein reportedly advised Prince Andrew not to go ahead with the calamitous Newsnight interview, quitting his role as the prince’s communications secretary two weeks before the interview (having only been in the post a few weeks). As a sage PR adviser once told Spear’s, ‘You can only work with what you’ve got.’ Stein, 28, shone as Amber Rudd’s special adviser and developed a reputation at Westminster as what the Daily Mail called a ‘master of the dark arts’. He lost his job with Rudd when she resigned from the cabinet in September. In November, Stein joined Finsbury, the firm founded by Amber Rudd’s brother Roland Rudd, as a director
I’ve always been intellectually curious,’ the affable Mark Stephens, partner at Howard Kennedy and head of its media law and regulatory team, told Spear’s last year. Taking a creative approach to finding solutions for clients, he explained that his expertise on reputation issues ‘came about through representing a lot of journalists who were being sued’, which led to a slew of celebrity and sports clients, whom Stephens was already representing on other matters. ‘The two things came together – they saw the benefit of having someone who knew most of the editors on Fleet Street, and being able to recognise litigation isn’t always the answer.’ His work involves learning new areas of often particularly complex law. ‘I’ve done a lot, for example, in relation to high finance,’ he says. ‘The growing area is around business and human rights as a reputational exposure for the corporation and the senior leadership.’ One […]
There was a time – perhaps a decade ago – when you’d have described Nigel Tait as a defamation lawyer. But in 2020 that isn’t the most fitting moniker. ‘We’re privacy lawyers now,’ says the Carter-Ruck partner. ‘That and data protection.’ Tait has secured payouts and apologies for the likes of Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Frank Bruno, as well as for corporate giants such as Tesco. In the past year, one of the cases he advised on was a major libel victory against The Sun on behalf of Richard Burgon MP, who was awarded damages of £30,000 in the High Court. But he tells Spear’s that his work covers everything from defamation to privacy, breach of confidence, data protection and harassment. ‘Social media platforms remain ever prevalent and are a challenge with the substantial cyber issues we frequently deal with,’ he says. ‘We work with clients to navigate […]
One has to increasingly innovate,’ CMS dispute resolution partner Dan Tench tells Spear’s when asked about the state of the reputation world. It’s been a ‘very busy, very diverse’ year for the experienced litigator, who has a particular expertise in judicial review, competition law, media law and sports law. ‘We’ve certainly been at the cutting edge of a number of important legal developments in the information area.’ He’s noticing that affairs are becoming more international on the client front, while social media continues to be an area of note. CMS has, he says, been ‘right at the vanguard’ of developing the relevant tools to deal with it. ‘There’s been the decline in traditional media,’ he adds. ‘Twenty-five years ago, when I started if something was on the front page of a national newspaper, then that was a matter of immediate concern to a client. These days people can take two […]
Our job is primarily to defend our clients, but sometimes the work we do has a more significant impact,’ says Mark Thomson, who has represented film stars, supermodels and politicians in a glittering career. Atkins Thomson has acted for many victims of phone hacking, securing a number of victories. In July Thomson represented Heather Mills against News Group Newspapers, which settled for a ‘substantial’ sum. Other victories include payouts from the MirrorGroup for victims including Sadie Frost, who was awarded the highest privacy damages on record. ‘It was a huge setback for the media, which has been lobbying to water down press laws for years,’ he has said.
‘The fragility of reputation can never be underestimated,’ says recently anointed Carter-Ruck partner Rebecca Toman, who has had an ‘exceptionally busy year’. ‘The digital world enhances so much of our daily lives, yet plays a central role in the destruction of reputations forged over decades,’ she says. ‘More than ever, clients require legal advice that works alongside existing strategies designed to protect the “brand”.’ Toman observes a rise in non-disclosure agreement matters. ‘Drafted well and, most importantly used in appropriate circumstances, they continue to be a necessary and effective way of legitimately enhancing the common law duty of confidence.’
A former winner of the Spear’s Future Leader award, Laura Toogood founded Fieldmaster Group in 2016 after working as a social media strategist for global brands. ‘If you don’t manage your reputation then somebody else – or a search engine like Google – will do it for you,’ says the former Digitalis head of private clients. Toogood works directly with clients and their advisers, which include PRs, lawyers, security experts and publicists. Her work has helped celebrities caught up in image-hacking scandals. ‘We track where these images are reproduced and we may use our technology to displace them from Google, or we may work with a law firm,’ she explains.
Paul Tweed is rushed off his feet when Spear’s visits his Mayfair office. It’s the week after Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview and Tweed, as Sarah Ferguson’s long-term representative and friend of the family, is helping to firefight the fallout. ‘The terrible thing is that it his daughters that are the collateral damage,’ he says. ‘I want to make it very clear that I never would have advised him to do the interview.’ Tweed has represented Liam Neeson, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake and Johnny Depp, among others. He’s happy to switch teams, though, having represented the Sunday Times, the Irish News and Penguin: ‘It gives me a balanced perspective.’
Gerrard Tyrrell is perhaps best known for being a trusted adviser to the royal family. However, when he meets Spear’s at Harbottle & Lewis’s new offices next door to the Savoy, he explains that his client base is truly varied. Video-games entrepreneurs are a growing constituency, he says, noting that one such client ‘writes code from a beach in Mexico’. A senior partner and head of the firm’s media and information group, Tyrrell specialises in law relating to the creation, protection and use of information. ‘We are highly and uniquely experienced in dealing with the legal issues in our specialist areas,’ he says. ‘We work with a broad range of globally known clients, who come to us because of our experience and know-how.’ Tyrrell began as a media and entertainment litigator, including representing Virgin Atlantic when the airline sued British Airways in 1993 over a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. His extensive […]
Ben Ullmann’s star shines through the reputation world, under the guidance of David McDonough, who recently rebranded his firm Norris McDonough to Sanctuary Counsel.The Sanctuary Counsel chief executive has more than ten years’ experience in strategic communications, reputation management and policy research. He was previously a managing director at Teneo, where he advised CEOs and boards across a spectrum of issues, from M&As, IPOs and restructuring to special situations such as crisis. An adept speechwriter, Ullmann has helped a number of business leaders to ‘find their voices in the public square’.
Jessica Welch joined Simkins in 2013 as a trainee solicitor, rising to associate in 2015. Despite being just four years into the job, she has worked on cases in the High Court, the Copyright Tribunal and the European Court of Justice. Welch covers defamation, reputation protection, privacy, copyright and licensing, as well as commercial disputes for clients in the media and entertainment industries. A key part of the Simkins team that worked on the landmark Sir Cliff Richard case against the BBC and South Yorkshire Police two years ago, Welch has earned a number of plaudits. ‘She’s doing brilliantly,’ remarks one industry colleague.
Few names in PR understand the field better than Edelman’s Ed Williams, who was promoted to EMEA CEO in September. Since he was appointed CEO of UK and Ireland in 2011 the business has doubled in revenue, changing its staff to align its objectives with new market opportunities. ‘I intend to deploy a similar strategy: build a unified and focused team that regardless of national borders can intelligently and diligently serve clients across the region,’ he said of his new role. The UK agency continues to outperform the global agency as a whole, retaining its status as a market leader. ‘Our clients are managing through a period of immense disruption across all aspects of life: politics, both domestic and geopolitical, technology and public expectation,’ he has said. ‘Technology offers so much in terms of positive change, yet it also undermines established labour markets.’ Williams has a deep understanding of the […]
‘The key is to know which battles to fight – and to fight these hard,’ says Emma Woollcott, partner and head of Mishcon’s reputation protection team. ‘We take time to understand your world, your priorities and your challenges, and we use our instinct, experience and intelligence to create a strategy and solution suited to you. We make your problems our own.’ Woollcott has specialised in media litigation for 14 years, 12 of them at Mishcon. She has led on many of the firm’s highly sensitive cases. ‘Because of our success, they do not attract publicity,’ she explains. ‘It’s an honour when clients call to consult on issues that matter to them – big or small.
Michael Yates, a specialist across a range of contentious matters, has recently brought in an A-list client from an ‘influential’ Middle Eastern family. Yates is skilled at obtaining injunctive relief, stopping stories and removing content through tact rather than aggression, and has obtained many apologies, damages, takedowns and corrections for high-profile HNWs.A memorable case was the landmark privacy injunction ERY v Associated, which added weight to the premise that a criminal investigation of an individual can be considered to be private information – hence protectable.Yates joined Taylor Wessing two years ago from Lee & Thompson.
A former Sun editor and Brunswick man, David Yelland now deals with private clients at a close, personal level, advising them on managing the media, especially the tabloids. ‘Circulation of tabloids has gone down, influence has not gone down,’ he says. ‘Their power is in packaging up information and often misrepresenting the facts because they have an agenda, but that is what they’ve always done. When I was there I did it myself, so I can hardly complain – although hopefully I was on the right side.’ Yelland now advises leading business people across all sectors worldwide. Outside work, he is a life patron of the NSPCC and a trustee of Action on Addiction.