Grapevine

We’ve always wanted to write about spies.

From the start the case of Alexander Litvinenko’s poisoning has been like something out of a James Bond flick. The former KGB operative picked up a fatal dose of the radioactive isotope polonium-210, allegedly while meeting a contact at Piccadilly sushi restaurant Itsu in early November.

Now Teacher Stern Selby partner Graham Shear – more usually seen acting for footballers with media issues – has got in on the act. We had a call from him this morning telling us he was holding a press conference on the matter. It turns out that, as international investigations into the poisoning continue, Shear is advising Itsu.

Indeed, a terse statement on the company’s website informs customers that “Itsu Piccadilly, through no fault of its own, was caught up in an international incident that achieved massive coverage in the press”.

Apparently the restaurant is now closed and will remain so until next year. Naturally it is “assisting police with their inquiries”.

Still, for Shear intense media attention and a spot of crisis management is hardly out of the ordinary. His clients include footballer Ashley Cole, whose libel claim against the News of the World and The Sun was well publicised earlier this year – thanks in no small part to Shear’s decision to seek potential witnesses online.

But here is where the plot thickens. For we can reveal that Shear has also advised James Bond himself – or at least his personifications in the form of besuited smoothie Pierce Brosnan and butch lovely Daniel Craig.

For some lawyers the job is about boilerplate clauses and warranties. But for a select few it’s about the world of international espionage and raw fish.

Joanne Harris, senior reporter