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Link: Tim Worstall » Blog Archive » Alisher Usmanov Speech.

Tom Wise MEP repeated, under the protections of the parliamentary privilege of the European Parliament, some of the key allegations against Alisher Usmanov which led to Tim Worstall's Ireland's and Craig Murray's blogs being taken down recently at the request of Usmanov's lawyers. Tim Worstall has a summary on the linked page of his blog.

As a lawyer myself, I would like to disassociate myself from some of the unpleasant things written about Usmanov's solicitors. We lawyers are samurai, doing our warlords' clients' bidding within the rules of our professional code. The firm in question is suffering, because any attempt by clients to Google it now brings up pages of vitriolic commentary against it. It may be said to have acted honourably in attempting to advance its client's interests to its own detriment.

I am not sure that Mr Usmanov's interests have actually been advanced. Frankly, far more people now know of his alleged criminality than Craig Murray could have reached without his help.  Because of professional confidentiality, his lawyers can never reveal whether they acted on, or against, their own advice. Usmanov strikes me as the sort of client to thump a table and demand action, regardless of the advice offered.


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>I cannot except the notion

Yech. Accept the notion. Sorry.


An interesting nuanced debate. I'm sticking my oar in as I have been having a bit of a go at Schillings/Fasthosts.

Commenting on the webhost, istm that they ran more scared than was actually necessary and may therefore be (or should be) in breach of something.

Commenting on the lawyer istm that there is not a level playing field and that Sch....illings are genuinely engaged in acts of repeated bullying in order to satisfy their clients. I don't think that "lawyers are required to act in the best interests of their clients within the law" is an adequate defence to that charge. Perhaps they are - but they are also part of the debate about what is acceptable behaviour and need to take that part of the debate seriously.

On targetting Schillings for criticism: yes they can't talk about this client's case, but surely they can talk about the principles, methods and ethics that govern how they operate. After all, they publish extensive flow charts about that on their website.

I cannot except the notion that the way that lawyers operate must - by professional definition - be an ethics free zone within the limits of operation allowed by law.

I think that something clearly needs reform, and I need Schillings to be part of the conversation.


I accept your point that you disassociate yourself from the vitriol, some of which was uneccessary, and did not further the central argument over the threat of the Law being used by a wealthy man to suppress free speech.

Everybody believes this is a country that is free and we have free speech, faced with a man armed with a gun or deep pockets we know that is not true. The last people I would want drafting a Constitution would be this Parliament !

Schillings, as I have said have been hoisted on their own petard, they are gleefully chasing showbiz work, Sadly for them their strategy landed them on the stage with all the lights turned on.

I have a dim view of some lawyers, plus some other professionals.My own family Lawyer had the good grace to telephone me a few years ago to canvass my view on the type of advertising some of his partners were advocating. I said I felt it would damage his firm's image and reputation. They did not go down the proposed route, and are still the solid practitioners they always have been. Often its a question of style, you get what you pay for.


I would love a written constitution, Guthrum, if it could in any way resemble that of the USofA. But a constitution drafted now would be full of spurious "yooman rights" and would guarantee no liberties. It would certainly not (as are the key objectives of the US Constitution) restrict the rights of the Government, avoid the concentration of power or formally separate the executive from the legislature and the judiciary.

Britain is cursed with an executive constrained only by Parliament. Sadly that is now populated by a Party-picked pusillanimous parcel of piss-poor placemen. Any process to create a new constitution would be driven by the Executive and would entrench its position. Sadly our best hope is an upsurge of parliamentary spirit from the back benches. God help us, looking at the quality of the poodles there. People who are having a go at the lawyers over this issue, might reflect that they are models of probity and professionalism compared with our politicians. Before anyone points out that many of our politicans ARE lawyers, let me point to the relative earning power of the two professions and observe that the ones in Parliament were clearly not much cop or they could never have afforded to give it up.

Lawyers are advisors and ultimately (within legal and professional constraints) act upon instructions. They generally work with any creditworthy clients whom they have the resources to serve. It's not for them to pick and choose the clients they would like. Lawyers looking after show business egomaniacs would have very slim pickings if they only acted for nice people, for goodness sake! And lawyers specialising in "reputation management" will, by definition, deal only with people who have a reputation problem.

Trust me, except for me (all my clients are lovely people) EVERY lawyer has at some point squirmed inside at the case he is required to advance. The naievety exhibited in the Usmanov discussion about the role of lawyers in a free society (which is an important one) is quite worrying. Would you like to think that YOUR lawyer would refuse to act for you because he didn't like something about you? Think, guys. Everyone, however odious you may think he is, is entitled to legal representation. It is lynch-mob thinking to attach any odium to the lawyers - except for their ethics, the quality of their advice and their forensic skills.

Usmanov's lawyers didn't commence proceedings because they didn't have to, I suspect. If they were only in it for themselves (as everyone here assumes) launching numerous futile lawsuits would have been the way to the big bucks. Instead they achieved their client's objectives by rattling sabres at the weakest adversary they could find - the webhosts. Given their instructions that was a shrewd and economical approach. As I have repeatedly said, their client is worse off for their actions, but we shall never know whether they did what they did on their own advice or under his orders, protesting.

You may not like what they do for a living. You may feel they should have kept their client out of trouble better. But there is no reason to suggest they have overstepped any professional bounds, particularly of probity. I hold no brief for them. I merely disassociated myself from some of the vitriolic things blogged about them, which are more than likely unfair.


Tom, never saw you as a Shogun, but hold that thought.

I think you know my opinion on some types of Lawyer, a quick look at Schillings website does not through up an image of a sober lawyer seeking to protect his client's interests

These people are openly show biz, 'Lawyers to the Stars' for God's sake, and all the other nauseating references they have on each page.

I am afraid they have overstepped the mark of professional probity by a long chalk and have been hoisted on their own Petard.

They did not issue a threat of legal action against Murray, who I feel would have relished his day in Court with attendant publicity. It appears to me, having sadly been involved in two major cases of litigation, that a 'strategy' was evolved in that they would threaten the perceived 'publisher' who when confronted with a Billionaire who was prepared to throw big bucks at his legal team to achieve his aims, made the perfectly sane and commercial decision to do as he said. As you correctly say, the Maxwellian approach.

Until we have a written Constitution that enshrines the right of Free Speech, we will continue to live under the threat of libel action (a plaything for the very rich) and those that are prepared to take their schilling ( sorry could not resist it!)

With a Written Constitution, Schillings could have said I am sorry but what you propose is unconstitutional, and here's my bill for ten squillion quid for advising you of how we do things in this country.

This situation

David Jones

'It may be said to have acted honourably in attempting to advance its client's interests to its own detriment'

Is this a joke? The firm claims to be expert in reputation management. How well do you think they managed their own or Usmanov's reputation?

They weren't obliged to take the business and they weren't obliged to go about things in the way they did.


Damned by association. Blast! Fortunately all three are from a different branch of the profession to me; the one which props up low self esteem with high wigs. Any passing barristers want to defend their colleagues?

For myself, I will only say that good people who fall in with bad company can easily go wrong. And there is no worse company than the Labour Party.

peter whale

In your comment above about the training and culture of lawyers. There is something lacking in the training that allows the likes of Goldsmith,Blair and Booth to come out with their perverse judgements, comments and down right lies over the past few years.


Dave, you are not fully taking into account the culture and training of lawyers. We are not there to judge clients but to serve them in every lawful and ethical way. They are entitled to feel we are 100% on their side, regardless of our personal feelings. I don't know (and neither do you) whether these guys serve Mr. Usmanov gleefully or with their noses pegged.

I would guess that they were asked to achieve a result (get the sites pulled) which they duly did. Whether they advised him that the consequent publicity would do more harm than a couple of blogs, we simply don't know. For what it's worth, I would be surprised if they didn't. As a lawyer, I have often been instructed to do things against my own advice. Everyone is free to say how they feel about this law firm. While I disapprove of Mr. Usmanov's Maxwellian tactics - I simply don't feel able (based on what I actually know) to criticise his lawyers for executing them.

As for his loyalty to them, that phenomenon is not as common as we lawyers would wish, but it is not unknown either - especially when it has been earned. These solicitors are taking enough stick to earn some loyalty. I hope they get it.


Whoops. That will teach me not to blog while multi-tasking!! Sorry. Openly corrected above.

Tim Worstall

Tim Ireland's site went down.....not Tim Worstall :-)

Dave Petterson

But isn't this how we make our displeasure known. People and companies can do things within the law that are seen to be against our interests so we show our displeasure in many ways. Perhaps now they, and others, will consider if a client is worth the hassle in the future and if they disregard advice whether to continue with that client rather than making a stand.

imo. The wanted his custom at any cost. This is the cost they did not anticipate. I wonder if he has any loyalty to them. I doubt it.

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