Guardian chief names law firms that threatened legal action over HSBC files

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By Thomas Connelly on

Newspaper received 130 lawyers’ letters — editor-in-chief tweets a selection


As the fall-out from the HSBC files revelations continues, Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has taken to Twitter to reveal the names of some of the law firms that threatened legal action over his paper’s tax avoidance exposé.

Being careful only to reveal the law firms’ logos and not the content of the letters themselves, Rusbridger tweeted this snapshot of the legal threats the paper had received from five well-known London firms.

There are no surprises in the firms named. Media specialists Mishcon de Reya, Carter-Ruck, Harbottle & Lewis and Schillings all get a mention, alongside City powerhouse Berwin Leighton Paisner

Rusbridger revealed in his tweet that the Guardian had in fact received “around 130” legal letters in total — jokingly describing them as “warm letters of encouragement”.

The editor-in-chief also personally thanked the efforts of media lawyer and director of editorial legal services at the paper, Gillian Phillips, who presumably had to deal with every one of those letters.

Phillips, who was branded a “hero” by Rusbridger, has had an interesting career, starting out at Clifford Chance legacy firm Coward Chance before moving in-house to join the BBC. She then became the in-house lawyer to The Sun and the News of The World before before leaving to complete a three year stint as a lecturer at the College of Law (now the University of Law) in criminal and civil litigation and employment. Having joined The Times in 2000, she then moved to the Guardian as director of editorial legal services in 2009.

When contacted by Legal Cheek today, Carter-Ruck, Mishcon de Reya, Schillings, Harbottle & Lewis and Berwin Leighton Paisner all declined to comment.