Eminent reputation and human rights lawyer Mark Stephens speaks to Spear’s Editor Edwin Smith about his work for clients from Julian Assange to Mike Tyson, lifts the lid on what reputation lawyers actually do for their high-profile clients, and offers his insight into the predicament around Prince Andrew…
Episode 2: Mark Stephens
This episode is sponsored by Flight Safety.
Eminent reputation lawyer Mark Stephens offered his thoughts on the situation surrounding the Duke of York and the current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the latest episode of the Spear’s World of Wealth podcast
Prince Andrew is currently in a ‘no win’ situation when it comes to his relationship with deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Appearing in a US court would certainly make matters worse, said eminent reputation lawyer Mark Stephens.
Speaking on the Spear’s World of Wealth podcast, Stephens – a Spear’s 500 Top Ten ranked reputation lawyer at Howard Kennedy whose previous clients have included Julian Assange and James Hewitt – said if the prince speaks to the authorities, he is ‘condemned by his own mouth’ and if says nothing he is ‘damned by his own silence.’
Prince Andrew continues to be under pressure from US authorities to co-operate with investigators. He denies all abuse allegations and wrongdoing.
Stephens noted that the prince’s legal strategy is to let the case go ‘dead in the water’ as he is likely not obliged to assist in the American criminal investigation due to ‘a form of sovereign immunity’.
‘It can only get worse if he co-operates,’ he said. ‘[Giuffre’s lawyers] understand that the only way that they can haul him into a court or make him accountable is by piling on public opprobrium and making comments [that] he can’t hide behind high palace walls. Well, actually, he can.’
Moral judgement notwithstanding, Stephens said that this was ‘absolutely right’ from a legal perspective.
‘His lawyers have managed to stall this case for five years, I think that they’ve probably got stalling for at least another decade before all the legal points are driven out,’ Stephens told Spear’s editor Edwin Smith.
Indeed, even if Andrew was to face the courts, he would have a ‘pretty good shout’, said Stephens, but the Prince ‘can’t even deploy the defence because there will be such moral opprobrium around it’.
Starmer would represent Britain ‘very well’
Stephens also shared his thoughts on current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, whom he worked with on ‘a lot of cases’ including the McLibel lawsuit against McDonalds in the 1990s. ‘I think everybody that’s known Keir well always understood that he was always going to be in politics at the highest level,’ Stephens said.
‘People forget that he comes from a very humble origins, very poor background, and is entirely self-made. He is brilliant, he is thoughtful, he is incredibly hard-working and he has a very strong moral compass. I always found him really easy to work with.’
Stephens said that while the Labour leader was ‘less ready with a soundbite’, Starmer would be a ‘refreshing change’.
‘He’s not somebody who has an out-and-out hostility to ultra-high net worth people who may not see him as politically aligned,’ he said. ‘[UHNWS] don’t really have something to fear from him in the way that they might have done from Jeremy Corbyn.’
But Starmer, a former defence and human rights lawyer who became director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2008, currently has a net approval rating of -17 per cent, according to Redfield and Wilson Strategies.
But Stephens said that there will be a ‘hankering’ among the public for a more ‘old fashioned political leadership’.
‘The sniff of corruption around the current government is not something which I think is going to ebb away anytime soon,’ he said. ‘In Keir Starmer, you have someone who is uncorruptible, and I think that is going to appeal at some measure to the British public. ‘There’s always a swing with these things.’
Asked what the Starmer needs to do ‘swing better’, Stephens said that the Labour leader ‘has to appeal to Middle England’.
‘He certainly doesn’t appeal to the Marxist on the left, which is probably a good thing,’ Stephens added. ‘But he certainly needs to appeal to ordinary decent folk.’