Field Fisher lawyers freed from Mumbai terror ordeal

Mark Abell and Christopher Jackson, the Field Fisher Waterhouse partners trapped in a Mumbai hotel siege, have been evacuated.

Field Fisher lawyers freed from Mumbai terror ordealMark Abell (pictured) and Christopher Jackson, the Field Fisher Waterhouse(FFW) partners trapped in a Mumbai terrorist hotel siege, have been evacuated.

As reported on, Abell was trapped in his room when the attacks began on Wednesday night (see story). He was released from his room in the Oberoi at around 5am UK time today, and Abell about an hour later.

The Lawyerspoke to Abell while he waited at the British Council for his flight back to the UK. He said that FFW brought a security consultant into its London office to give Abell advice via his BlackBerry on strategies for surviving the siege.

Abell added: “[A crisis] brings the best out in people. Everyone back at home was really pulling together and made sure my family were looked after. It made me appreciate what a supportive culture we have at the firm.

“Everybody – except perhaps for one person – was there supporting me,” he added. “In 40 hours I received more than 3,000 emails from lawyers that I worked with all over the world and many lawyers that I haven’t worked with. It’s great to be part of a profession that looks after its people.”

Abell described the chain of events that led to his first being trapped in his room.

“Chris and I had dinner with a client in the evening at the Kandahar Restaurant in the hotel. We left and 20 or 30 minutes later there was shooting in the restaurant. It sounds as if the waitress serving us that night got shot,” he said.

“After dinner I was talking to some Japanese businessmen, waiting for the lift [in the lobby]. The lifts are usually very slow but that day they were fast. I got the lift up to my room and after about 10 minutes I heard a big blast. I think one of the Japanese men was killed in the blast. What I’ve been through is really nothing. There were so many other strong people.”

Abell barricaded himself in his room on the 23rd floor of the hotel, after deciding not to make a run for it via the fire escape. He heard gunfire in the corridor outside his room, as well as other explosions. During the 40 hour siege Abell said he ate nothing, slept for about two hours and only had two bottles of water.

Despite the carnage, Abell said that he still managed to conduct FFW board meetings on strategy. “You’ve got to be in control of your space. I was in control of my space and I wasn’t going to let the terrorists put me off my stride. Some of the partners said they would understand, given the situation, if I didn’t want to attend the meeting. I said ‘Why?’. You’ve just got to keep going.”

Abell said he would take Monday (1 December) off to recover, but that he would be back in the office the following day.

FFW issued a statement saying: “We’re immensely grateful to all our business contacts, friends and advisers both in the UK and overseas who are helping us in these difficult times.”

Yesterday’s story attracted a raft of reader comment:

Date: 28-Nov-2008 @ 13:17PM
From: Anonymous
I was sad to read the lack of sympathy presumably fellow lawyers for someone in such extreme dange, braving a horrific and completely unexpected encounter of terrorism.

I think he has been extremely brave and shown high character in daring to report to the news whilst he was barrackaded in his room so that we could know what was happening in Mumbai.

I think he is an example to others of how a lawyer being able to handle a horrific situation very well. I think we should be inspired by the courage and spirit that he has demonstrated.

Embarrassed to be a lawyer
Date: 28-Nov-2008 @ 12:49PM
From: Anonymous

What an embarrassment to the legal profession this guy is. I am a former City solicitor working in house; i don’t read the Lawyer these days and i don’t normally go on comment boards. But the namedropping of his firm through the Today interview takes the biscuit and has driven me to this site to comment; no wonder people think lawyers are tw*ts. What an inappropriate time to try and promote one’s third division law firm.

Date: 28-Nov-2008 @ 10:39AM
From: Anonymous
So what firm does Mark Abell work for exactly?! It’s a joke that someone who is in a life or death situation would take the opportunity to try to win some work for FFW!

Field Fisher partner trapped by Mumbai terror attack
Date: 28-Nov-2008 @ 10:32AM
From: Anonymous
He is now out of the hotel.

No surprise
Date: 28-Nov-2008 @ 08:03AM
From: Anonymous
Why am I not surprised by the shameless self-promotion at a time when so many people were suffering?

Date: 27-Nov-2008 @ 20:29PM
From: think different
Don’t be silly please, Mark Abell is now having extremely tuff times there, still being locked in his room (21:26 CET). He probably mentioned FFW just because he was on business trip there for his firm. Be decent.

Date: 27-Nov-2008 @ 16:43PM
From: Anonymous
I thought the blatant FFW name dropping during the interview was shocking “Yes, FFW do a lot of work in India!!” But if that’s the way you have to sell yourself, so be it.

Legal News?
Date: 27-Nov-2008 @ 15:40PM
From: Anon
The BBC’s Today programme is hardly legal news, unless you think otherwise.

Last comment
Date: 27-Nov-2008 @ 15:07PM
From: Anon.
I have a feeling that what with all that’s going on, those teenage terrorists might be a little too busy to read legal news on their Blackberries.

Date: 27-Nov-2008 @ 14:59PM
From: NonnyMus
Why is this being advertised?! Do they want the terrorist to knock on his door and hunt him down?

To read yesterday’s story click here.