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BRITISH AIRWAYS has pulled off a coup by poaching leading aviation barrister Robert Webb QC from premier aviation law chambers 5 Bell Yard.
The high-profile Webb appeared on the opposite side to BA in the bid by Easyjet to scupper the launch of Go, BA's low-cost airline, and in Virgin's dirty tricks action.
Webb has been head of chambers at 5 Bell Yard for the last 10 years and is the second of the chambers' three silks to have left this year, after the departure of fellow aviation specialist Michael Crane QC to commercial set Fountain Court.
As head of BA's legal and regulatory activities, Webb replaces Ken Walder, who moves to the British Aviation Insurance Group as director of operations and chief legal adviser.
Webb said: "I have seen so many wonderful sch-emes pass across my desk over the years that I thought it would be nice to be part of the action.
"The competitive atmosphere is so mistrustful in the aviation industry, the one thing I want to do is get back to having straight bats all round."
Webb said leaving the Bar "feels very strange" but he believed he would not have been well suited to life as a judge.
Harbottle & Lewis head of aviation Dermot Scully, who instructed Webb in the Virgin action, said Webb had let the firm know of his decision, adding that all there wished him well.
Kevin Moore, senior clerk at 5 Bell Yard, said: "Robert Webb has been a charismatic and greatly respected head of chambers and we wish him all the best in his new venture."
Moore added that 5 Bell yard would continue to offer its specialisation in aviation law.