Associated Newspapers’ former legal head Harvey Kass has taken on a consultancy role with Finers Stephens Innocent.
Kass, who has 30 years’ experience working with media clients and fighting for journalists’ rights to freedom of expression, said the move was “the perfect synergy” and “sounded like a lot of fun on every level”.
After 17 years as head of legal covering titles such as the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, Kass is widely regarded as a stalwart of the Fleet Street legal scene. He announced his departure from the newspaper group last November (22 November 2011).
Kass said his new role, which already includes a European Court of Human Rights case involving the Armenian media law landscape is a “natural next stage to a varied and very interesting career”.
“I’m delighted to be joining a firm with such a broad range of expertise and a brilliant international reputation for fighting for freedom of expression on behalf of some of the world’s major media companies,” he added.
Kass, a former Wright Webb Syrett, Olswang and Goldcrest lawyer, said he was recalibrating his work-life balance after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Speaking to The Lawyer in the week that the Daily Mail scooped a number of British Press Awards for its campaigning journalism, in particularly on the Stephen Lawrence case, Kass said the recognition was greatly deserved.
He said the major legal risk to publishing the famous Daily Mail front page labelling as “murderers” the three suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case was one of the decisions “everyone at the paper is most proud of”.
He said: “Some of the questioning at the Leveson Inquiry that suggested that that front page was motivated by anything other than pure investigative journalism was an embarrassment to watch.
“I’ve been watching developments carefully and I’m very concerned there is already a chilling effect on freedom of expression as a result of the despicable activities of a minority of journalists who don’t represent the other 99 per cent.
“I hope that Leveson’s recommendations get the balance right, with a common sense approach that recognises the contribution of investigative journalism to democracy.”