Qatar 2022 bid committee instruct Schillings over World Cup bribery claims

The Qatari bid committee is understood to have turned to Schillings for advice following allegations of corruption during the World Cup bidding process.

The committee have denied claims of bribery linked to the World Cup, after a Sunday Times report claimed that football officials had received up to £3m to tilt the 2022 bid towards Qatar. 

Legacy SNR Denton had acted for Qatar on its successful bid to host the World Cup in 2010 (6 December 2010), with Doha-based finance partner Leigh Hall, who has now left the firm, working with the Qatari bid committee for over 19 months.

However the committee has turned to Schillings for advice on the recent allegations. The firm is understood to have sent a note to media organisations warning journalists to be careful when reporting on the claims. 

Schillings’ reputation expert Sam Ahuja, who advises high-net worth individuals and corporations on pre and post publication matters, is thought to be the lead lawyer on the case. 

The firm famously advised footballer Ryan Giggs when he took out an injunction over his affair with Imogen Thomas two years ago (2 March 2012). The sports and media litigation partner who advised Giggs, Gideon Benaim, left the firm some months after advising the footballer (12 June 2012). 

Another of the Qatari bid committee’s legal advisers, magic circle firm Clifford Chance, is not understood to be advising on the recent claims.

Clifford Chance was appointed to advise on its technical programme last March (13 March 2013) and was one of the few external advisers to be kept informed of a overhaul inside Qatar 2022’s legal team in January (16 January 2014).

The reshuffle saw general counsel Andrew Longmate, a former London partner of Latham & Watkins, become counsel to Qatar 2022 general secretary Hassan Al-Thawadi.

Longmate said at the time that Clifford Chance’s appointment was “the first of a number of major legal advisory mandates that will be tendered over the coming months”.

It is not clear if Schillings was subsequently instructed before the recent allegations as part of a wider appointment.

Other clients to have used Schillings, which recast itself as a legal, risk management and IT security and investigation practice last September (5 Sep 2013), include cyclist Lance Armstrong, comedian Rowan Atkinson and author JK Rowling (31 July 2013).

A Schillings spokesperson said: “We don’t talk about clients or matters, neither can we confirm nor deny whether any individual or entity is a client of the firm.