BBC litigation head Banno quits for Baker & McKenzie

BBC’s head of litigation Nadia Banno is leaving to join Baker & McKenzie just two years after taking up the head role at the BBC.

The lawyer is joining the firm as of counsel after nine years at the BBC where she has taken lead roles in litigation and crisis management. During her time at the public sector broadcaster she led the work on the high-profile Pollard review into sexual abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile.

She was also central to achieving a battle for press freedom when the BBC became one of several broadcasters to successfully oppose an application to disclose footage to the police relating to the Dale Farm convictions.

The BBC is understood to be in the process of appointing a new litigation head, who reports into the head of editorial legal and has ten reportees. The litigation role was prevoiusly filled by current general counsel Sarah Jones, who joined from Allen & Overy in 1996 and was promoted in 2012 (17 January 2012). Jones’ role had expanded to cover IP and employment by the time she was promoted.

Jones said: “We are very sorry to see her go. If I could clone Nadia and keep her working for us as well as Bakers I would but there’s only one Nadia.”

Banno’s move to Bakers in September follows several years working closely with the firm. Bakers was appointed to advise the independent inquiries set up by the BBC in the wake of sex abuse allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile.

Partner Tom Cassels is ongoing client relationship partner to the BBC Trust, and was given the mandate when it was created in 2007. Both Bakers and Cassels were reappointed to its panel during a tender process in 2011.

Banno has worked for the BBC since 2005, when she became a data protection lawyer following three years as a media lawyer in Minter Ellison in Austalia. Between 2006 and 2012 she was a litigation and pre-publication lawyer before taking up the head of litigation role two years ago.  

Baker & McKenzie London Head of Dispute Resolution John Leadley said: “We’ve worked closely with Nadia for a number of years and know first hand what a talented and impressive lawyer she is.

“Having Nadia’s expertise and broad experience in the team will be a tremendous boost to our dispute resolution practice, particularly our public law, and regulatory investigations offering. ”

Last year Baker & McKenzie added to its London disputes team with international arbitration and litigation partner Steve Abraham in January 2013 from Norton Rose Fulbright (28 September 2012). The same year the firm added senior counsel Thomas Firestone, a former US Department of Justice prosecutor with experience in high growth and emerging markets.

Both Cassels, Banno and general counsel Sarah Jones were recognised in TheLawyer’s Hot 100 last year (28 January 2013).