John Kelly - Spear's Magazine

John Kelly

Harbottle & Lewis

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Spear’s meets John Kelly fresh from his success at our Wealth Management Awards, where he was crowned Reputation Management Lawyer of the Year. In 2017 the Harbottle & Lewis partner 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. (Other clients have included Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Madonna.)

However, Kelly explains, the vast majority of his work for HNW and high-profile clients this year has been ‘preventative’. It’s far better, he says, if you don’t have to ‘put the genie back in the bottle’. This kind of work is aided by a set of ‘personal protection principles’ that Harbottle has drawn up for its clients to clarify what kind of treatment is and isn’t acceptable at the hands of the press.

‘A lot of people put up with nonsense for a long time,’ says Kelly. When they discover that they don’t have to, it comes as a relief. Brexit, he says, will have no material impact on the law. However, it will be significant; newspapers that have been overflowing with stories about the UK’s exit from the EU for more than two years will suddenly have ‘an awful lot of blank pages’ to fill. ‘We’re predicting an uptick in work from HNW clients in particular,’ he says. ‘There will almost certainly be more litigation.’