Harbottle scuppers Murdoch’s lawyer-blaming tactics

Rule number one in the lawyer handbook of customer relations is never publicly criticise the client.

And if your client happens to be the most powerful media mogul in the world, it’s usually best to stick to it.

But plucky Harbottle & Lewis, former partner Lawrence Abramson and current managing partner Glen Atchison ripped up the rulebook when under attack by rattled octogenarian Rupert Murdoch.

With Murdoch firing off allegations with the scattergun approach of a fatally wounded outlaw, Harbottle stood accused of a “major mistake” in not “finding out what the hell was going on” with widespread phone hacking at the News of the World.

The firm’s ballsy public fightback in branding the mogul’s criticism “self-serving”, has been backed by a parliamentary select committee, which has found that Abramson was “simply doing his job”.

They say that it’s foolish to pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel, but trying to pin the blame on a firm that argues for a living can be equally hazardous.