Anyone expecting a legal bunfight as barristers took the stage to begin the second leg of the Hutton inquiry will have been sorely disappointed.
The group, chosen by the Government, the BBC, the inquiry, and the Kelly family, are all even-handed intellectuals who would never misbehave at a tea party.
In the first stage of the inquiry counsel to the inquiry James Dingemans QC and the Kelly family’s silk Jeremy Gompertz QC made an impression by setting the
quiet, measured tone usually reserved for a document-heavy fact-finding mission set in front of a Law Lord.
The BBC’s barrister Andrew Caldecott QC, Andrew Gilligan’s counsel Heather Rogers, and the Government’s choice Jona-than Sumption QC also showed no signs of
setting Court 73 on fire. But there’s plenty of time yet.
Lawyer profiles: what talents will each bring to the court room?
James Dingemans QC
3 Hare Court
Counsel to the Hutton inquiry
Hourly rate: £150-£300
Dingemans: set the tone for the first stage of the inquiry
Earlier in the year, personal injury specialist Dingemans, who took silk last year, was a relative unknown. He has been praised for his endurance during the
Inquiry – apparently redolent of his performances on the rugby pitch. Others, though, would prefer to see more steel in his approach. “He’s been a bit too
nice, too deferential to witnesses. He’s left too many questions hanging in the air,” says one solicitor. Nonetheless, his conduct so far has earned him
considerable praise from peers.
Andrew Caldecott QC
One Brick Court
Instructed by: the BBC
Hourly rate: £450
Andrew Caldecott QC is nicknamed ‘Andrew Call my Bluff’ for his meandering witness examinations, where it’s impossible to tell where he’s going, but which
usually produce exactly the required result. Some even think Caldecott might use made-up words to aid his examination, but they are always too scared of his
brilliance to question him on them. He has consistently been at the sharp end of media law. In Reynolds v The Times in 1999 he obtained the legal right to
qualified privilege for journalists. Instructed by Schillings, he is also representing supermodel Naomi Campbell in the first privacy case to reach the House
of Lords. He was the ideal choice for the BBC because of his wealth of experience grappling with the tricky issues surrounding the use of anonymous sources.
Instructed by: Andrew Gilligan
Hourly rate: £275
Rogers, a rated libel senior junior, was a favourite of the late George Carman QC and is often led by his successor in terms of outright thespianism, Ely
Place Chambers’ head Ronald Thwaites QC. But her methodical style is in sharp contrast to them both. She was the ideal support for Carman, who led her in
Neil Hamilton v Mohamed Al Fayed, as she organised everything while he improvised wildly on the stand.
Jonathan Sumption QC
Brick Court Chambers
Instructed by: the Government
Hourly rate: £1,000+
Sumption, a member of the £1,000-an-hour club and the intellectual giant of the bar’s leading triumvirate of silks (with Gordon Pollock QC and Lord
Grabiner QC), is known as the ‘boffin of the bar’. One magic circle litigation partner describes him as “the brightest barrister there is. He is
intellectual, thorough, academic, but not pugnacious”. A perfect choice for a client who wants to put senior establishment figures in their place. “He is
developing his charismatic qualities but falls behind Grabiner and Pollock in his ability to charm an audience and put on a show,” says one solicitor.
Jeremy Gompertz QC
5 Essex Court
Instructed by: Bircham Dyson Bell for the Kelly family
Hourly rate: £180-£300
This mild-mannered and thoughtful criminal QC is a seasoned inquiry man. He acted for the Metropolitan Police in the inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence affair
and was last year appointed to the 12-strong integrity review committee set up by the Jockey Club as part of the war against malpractice in racing. He
displays a good deal of empathy with his subjects during cross-examination. “The Kelly family didn’t want you or anyone else to be subjected, at their hands,
to an ordeal comparable to that endured by Dr Kelly,” he told Andrew Gilligan last Wednesday, 17 September.
Head of public law at Clifford Chance
Official solicitor to the Hutton inquiry
Hourly rate: £500
Ironically, of all the legal luminaries involved in the Hutton inquiry, solicitor Smyth is the scariest of the lot. Smyth, aided in the inquiry by assistant
Martin Smith, has a razor-sharp brain, an acerbic tongue and a hard-hitting approach that has his opponents wanting to slide under the table in meetings. As
head of public law at Clifford Chance and a respected media lawyer (he is acting for Reuters in the Interbrew case) he is perfect for this dual-pronged
inquiry into the Government and the BBC. It’s just a shame he won’t get to stand up in court.