For Tweed, it all started over a bun fight: ‘Two of the senior lawyers of their day [QCs] were accused of fighting over the last chocolate éclair in a local cake shop. Everyone thought that it was trivial, that I was mad, but we ran it for them and they were awarded £50,000 each, which was a lot of money in 1986.’
Following that he acted for Barney Eastwood, the promoter of boxer Barry McGuigan, successfully defending him against libellous claims. A record payout of £450,000 followed, as well as instruction from a string of UK and, notably, Hollywood celebrities looking to protect their reputations from libellous publications on both sides of the Atlantic. These have included Liam Neeson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Johnny Depp, Ashton Kutcher, Harrison Ford, Louis Walsh and now Sarah Duchess of York as she takes on News Group. His reputation has also seen him sought out by major corporates such as Ryanair and Ralph Lauren.
The personable Ulsterman attributes his successes to graft (sixteen-hour days are common, he says) and guile: ‘I was one of the first to realise that if something is published online, if you can get an apology then you can put it back down online and it’ll go around the world.’
Ninety-five per cent of his work is resolved speedily and outside of court: ‘A lot of law firms try to jack up the fees, which I do not like. My aim is to get the case resolved quickly.’