John Kelly - Spear's Magazine

John Kelly

Harbottle & Lewis

John Kelly
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‘Around 90 per cent of our work is preventative,’ John Kelly tells a Spear’s staffer all too familiar with receiving one of Harbottle’s firmly worded legal warnings during time served at the Daily Mail.

‘Yes. We spend a healthy amount of time on issues with the Mail and others,’ he adds, ‘but the rules of engagement with traditional media are fairly well understood.’

For Kelly, the theme over the past year has been privacy and family protection for HNWs, alongside a rise in criminal activity that he defines as starting with ‘hacked material moving through to the extremes of blackmail’.

He adds: ‘Digital technology makes it much easier to contact people and make threats while masking your identity. People think they’re beyond the law when they’re operating in the cyber domain. They’re not.’

Over the years he has represented A-listers such as Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie and Madonna. In April 2017 he 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. Kelly tells Spear’s that discretion and confidentiality are key. But as the technology changes the way the game is played, one tenet of reputation management remains unchanged: ‘People think that if you’re in the public eye it’s access all areas. The opposite is true. What is in the public’s interest is not just w