The eminent reputation management lawyer was the big winner at the Dorchester at last night’s ‘financial Oscars’, writes Christopher Jackson
Gerrard Tyrrell received the Spear’s Outstanding Achievement Award — an honour previously given to such leading lights as Lady Helen Ward and Michael Maslinski — at the 2017 Wealth Management Awards, in association with Gaggenau.
Rupert Phelps, a partner at Smith & Williamson and a member of the Spear’s editorial advisory board, presented the award to Tyrrell at the culmination of a night honouring luminaries of the private client world at the Dorchester.
Phelps told the audience, which included the night’s Reputation Management Lawyer of the Year Niri Shan: ‘Gerard Tyrrell is a name breathed with a certain awe – not just in reputation management circles where his name encapsulates discretion and savviness. He is also a figure respected across the legal world: in acting for the Queen, and royal families, he has throughout his career built his own reputation while protecting and preserving the reputations of others.’
Tyrrell, whose clients have included Kate Moss, the Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry, and David and Victoria Beckham, was collecting the award at a febrile time for the reputation industry. It has, after all, not been long since the collapse of Bell Pottinger, and the Paradise Papers revelations – not to mention a range of Pestminster stories – were still swirling about the room as the Queen’s solicitor rose to speak.
‘Sadly I’m not going to be able to talk about my clients,’ he said, tackling the issue head on before going on to thank his colleagues at Harbottle & Lewis and his family. He also thanked his clients themselves: ‘Without them we are nothing and it’s their trust and confidence that we depend on,’ he said.
Tyrrell, who qualified in 1981 and made partner in 1984, proceeded to draw comparisons between the present and the past. ‘I want to touch on two words which are apparently the phrase of the year: false news,’ he said. ‘This causes anyone in the media amusement: I’ve been looking in the last couple of weeks at some news from the 1920s and 1930s and false news features very heavily…You soon realise life doesn’t change very much at all.’
But he also had some wisdom for the assembled crowd: ‘Look beyond the headlines. Look always at what the facts are. People’s reputations are very easily traduced. People spend a lifetime trying to do the best they can, and it can be reduced to nothing in a matter of minutes by misreporting and falsity. We all owe everyone a duty – especially in a democracy such as ours – to stand back and have a think about what’s actually going on and not to leap to judgement too quickly.’
After giving his speech, Tyrrell – a big Tottenham Hotspur fan – was congratulated by former Spurs captain Ledley King. He was subsequently escorted to the VIP room for a virtual tour of the team's new stadium. When Spear’s left him, he seemed a man not only garlanded but happy: wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles, and taking in the new restaurants and stadium capacity, it seemed a deserved break from the merry-go-round of the news cycle.
‘No one deserves it more,’ said Tyrrell’s fellow partner at Harbottle & Lewis, John Kelly, looking on. And it was impossible not to agree.
Christopher Jackson is head of the Spear's Research Unit