BBC barrister jumps into PR

Experienced BBC lawyer David Williams has been poached by a London public relations company planning to compete directly against law firms in the lucrative field of media relations.

Williams, a senior assistant in the BBC's programme complaints unit for 14 years, has joined John Stonborough & Co to advise corporate clients on regulatory and legal aspects of the media.

Stonborough & Co claims it is the first PR consultancy to open what amounts to an in-house legal department.

“Law firms are doing more PR, so it is quite logical that PR companies should do more law,” said company founder John Stonborough.

He claimed aggressive television reporting was prompting corporate clients to seek more information about their rights under broadcasting law and how to best respond to attacks. “We have some major corporate clients who are virtually at war with the media,” said Stonborough.

Williams, a qualified barrister and in-house media specialist for more than 20 years, said that he felt the need for a fresh challenge.

He aims to use his extensive knowledge of the workings of the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission to advise clients on how to deal with any problems that relate to the media.

Williams said that while injunctions would also be part of his legal armoury, the aim was to pre-empt problems clients were having with broadcasters.