“It is not every job where you get the Prime Minister standing up and saying that what’s happened is an outrage,” says Saunders Law managing director James Saunders (scroll down for video interview), referring to the publication of the Hillsborough report on 12 September.
The Sheffield-born criminal lawyer is representing the victims’ families and Saunders has worked closely with Michael Mansfield QC since the new Hillsborough Independent Panel was convened in 2010 to study thousands of documents. Its findings broke through the layers of corruption and collusion to deliver vindication for Merseyside.
Saunders, who climbs mountains in his spare time, says: “It was a fantastic day.”
Since then, Saunders’ work has been two-pronged. To ensure fresh inquests for the victims – he was successful in that aim on December 19 when Attorney General Dominic Grieve ordered new hearings.
And second, to “ensure accountability”. Saunders says his task for 2013 is to “make sure the DPP has everything he needs to do the right thing”. In other words, Saunders will probe civil claims and pass on any potentially criminal disclosure to Keir Starmer. The forthright lawyer is also pushing for an independent figurehead to oversee the review of all the evidence, citing a lack of trust from the families towards the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Saunders, who represented Norfolk self-defence farmer Tony Martin in his successful appeal in 2001, has a strong media practice too, acting for a number of broadcasters.
“People in exposed positions now need criminal lawyers where issues didn’t exist before,” he says.
And his approach to law? “I don’t believe in customers or commoditised services even though I’m told that’s what the future is. I believe in clients and a personalised service. If you’ve no work, fair enough go and advertise, but if you’re a good lawyer people will come to you on merit.”
James Saunders, Saunders Law