Personal injury specialist firm Alexander Harris has poached Gulf War syndrome litigation solicitor Richard Barr and his team from Hodge Jones & Allen, reigniting fury over the award of the controversial legal aid contract.
Barr and six specialist fee earners are now at Alexander Harris' London office.
However, the move means Barr loses both the high-profile Gulf War case and the legally-aided case brought by organophosphate poisoning litigants, which will continue to be handled by Hodge Jones.
Both firms refuse to comment on the reasons for the move - the second time Barr has switched firms in just over a year.
Barr says: "Although the generic legal aid contracts remain with Hodge Jones & Allen, individual clients are free to choose whichever firm they want to represent them."
He takes with him to Alexander Harris the legally aided multi-party action brought by alleged victims of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which it will handle jointly with
Nottingham firm Freeth Cartwright Hunt Dickins.
Barr moved from Dawbarns to Hodge Jones last spring. Dawbarns controversially won the Gulf War syndrome legal aid contract in 1995 despite a High Court judge quashing the decision after rival firm Donns successfully sought judicial review.
Donns, which acts for more than 1,000 alleged Gulf War syndrome victims, declines to comment on the latest move, although The Lawyer understands it is privately furious about the move.