Company Entering Administration

Bell Yard assisted the Directors of a traditional UK publishing company, based in the south of England, when they were forced to make the difficult decision to enter into administration.

Strict company and employment law requirements drove the communications process requiring timely and explanatory messaging to staff and affected customers.

Bell Yard helped shape the context messages for internal and external use. There was a core script adjusted for each of the different audiences affected.

With little preparation time to spare, announcement day brought a tight roll-out timetable of communications – with unions, staff, customers as well as local and trade media.

Following court approval, the administrator took over the reins of the business and responsibility for all communications on the company’s final wind-down strategy and implementation. However with Bell Yard’s support, the Directors could comfort themselves that they had presented sad news in as efficient and sensitive a way as possible in the circumstances, with all parties ultimately respecting that there was nothing further that could have been done to prevent the end of a printing era in this technological age.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Billing issue

Bell Yard advised a UK chambers on its client, internal and potential media engagement following the discovery of limited fee discrepancies. The matter was resolved without public scrutiny given the swift remedial action taken and appropriation communication provided.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Employment dispute

Bell Yard advised a UK set on the preparation of appropriate reactive public engagement, drafting internal and potential external communications arising from an employment-related dispute, which ultimately was resolved without unwelcome media exposure.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Separating personal from professional

Bell Yard’s advice was sought in respect of handling media enquiries into the extra-curricular activities of a member of Chambers, with a mandate to minimise exposure of the Set in this regard. While the media reported the conduct, by and large journalists divorced the personal from the professional and agreed it was unnecessary to embroil Chambers in the stories.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Global 100 Law Firm

Bell Yard provided public relations support to an international law firm with offices in London, Europe and the Middle East.

Our brief was to help shift perceptions of the firm as solely a US energy specialist to a leading international law firm with broad expertise in the energy and technology sectors, in line with the firm’s strategic focus.

By collaborating with the firm’s marketing & communication team and local lawyers Bell Yard developed insightful, thought-provoking and timely partner commentary on newsworthy topics, generating coverage in media such as Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and The Times, in addition to specialist sector media.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Global 50 Law Firm

Providing PR support to the London branch of a global 50 US law firm for its UK white collar defence and investigations practice. Bell Yard executed a series of PR opportunities aimed at raising the profiles of the practices’ counsel members through a series of commentary opportunities, reactionary media statements and journalist meetings with key media outlets. As a result of Bell Yard’s PR strategy, our client is now considered to be the go-to firm for commentary on white collar crime issues and is often quoted extensively in Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Times Law as well as sector-specific publications.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Top 100 Litigation Firm

Bell Yard provides profile-raising PR support to a UK Top 100 law firm with a strong private client practice and established reputation for its criminal law expertise.  It is often involved in high profile client mandates and its experts are keen for visibility across leading business, City and consumer media outlets from the BBC to The Guardian to Spears and Stylist magazine.

Our brief is to ensure platform opportunities on relevant topical issues, whether by tapping into the news agenda or by setting it. Bell Yard has supported this client for several years and, as a result, we are very familiar with the key people and their thinking, ensuring close synergy between the business and PR objectives.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

White-Shoe Law Firm

Bell Yard provided PR support on behalf of a global 50 US law firm to manage its London launch and to develop a campaign to support the office’s strategic expansion plans. 

Following a sustained thought leadership campaign, which has seen partners quoted on regulatory, tax, real estate funds and private equity issues in leading international, national and trade media, and backed up by a steady flow of corporate and transactional announcements, our client is recognised as the go-to firm in its sectors.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Eclipse film partnerships

Bell Yard was appointed by law firm, Edwin Coe, to raise awareness of a potential investor group action over the now disgraced Eclipse Partnerships film finance fund series. 

Edwin Coe led a group action for approximately 100 investors in the Eclipse Film Partnerships which were marketed as creative tax relief schemes.

Investors included professionals, footballers, sports managers and celebrities including, according to media reports, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Sir Alex Ferguson.

In 2012, the HMRC Tax Tribunals ruled that these partnerships were aggressive tax avoidance schemes, a decision that was corroborated in April 2016 by the Supreme Court, which agreed with the Court of Appeal’s February 2015 decision that Eclipse 35 was not a bona fide trading business and therefore was not entitled to tax relief. This left investors facing huge tax bills and legal fees as HMRC issued tax demands. 

Our client’s objective was build out the number of investors in their litigation group before launching a letter to target respondent parties (primarily the lending banks). 

Bell Yard assisted this objective by drafting a press release which announced our client’s intentions to launch a group action within a certain timeframe, which acted as the clarion call for more investors, trumpeting the benefits of Therium funding (meaning there were reduced litigation risks and costs to individuals who sign up). 

As a result, our client’s group action was widely publicised, with stories published in the Mail on Sunday, CityAM, The Telegraph and in the financial trade press.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Retailer Data Breach

A popular online retailer fell victim to a hack involving the theft of its customers’ data. The breach occurred at a particularly sensitive time, coming as it did in the wake of TalkTalk’s crisis.

Bell Yard had been called in by the client’s lawyers to assist in preparing media responses in anticipation of journalist enquiries.  However, the company itself did not call on our assistance for preparation until after a call had been received by the BBC, who had learned of the breach through an affected customer.

Bell Yard swiftly ascertained as much of the detail as possible within 2 hours of being instructed. We then prepped the CEO to be interviewed, allowing him to articulate the detail that was known and that which could not yet be known, as well as to provide the reassurance that all that could be done was being done, providing context to the situation.   Crafting the correct narrative from the outset set the tone for future reporting. Bell Yard also drafted the customer notification correspondence plus a series of FAQs for the client’s website.  Together with the legal team, we ensured the public messaging reflected the facts self-reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

A further part of Bell Yard’s engagement was to advise on optimal social media responses to answer concerned customers, to recommend steps to help re-establish reputation and minimise future trading disruption.

A critical element was the close involvement of the CEO and, given the nature of the business, as an online only retailer, rapid and relevant social media responses proved essential, affording customers the swift reassurance they were seeking.  Taken together, these aspects helped prevent national press escalation.

Post-crisis, Bell Yard recommended ways to help the company restore its reputation. The close involvement of senior management in decision–making, including public and customer communications, helped ensure responses were rapid and realistic so minimising potential escalation of the issue.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Timeshare Exchange Company: RCI Europe

Law firm Edwin Coe LLP, acting for a 500 strong consumer group bringing a multi-million pound class action lawsuit against timeshare exchange company RCI Europe, asked Bell Yard to maximise publicity for the case in advance of its High Court hearing.

Working with some of the test claimants’ stories and the claim documentation, we were able to secure coverage in The FT, The Times, Money Mail (personal finance section of the Daily Mail), and several trade publications such as Travel Weekly, Estates Gazette and Hospitality.Net. Bell Yard also secured airing of the issue on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, requiring RCI to engage.

The claimants alleged breach of contract by RCI Europe due to its practice of “skimming off” premium timeshare properties from the exchange pool for profit. As a result of which, claimants said they were rarely, if at all, able to exchange their right to their property, for an alternative property of the same ‘value’ which significantly reduced the attraction to them of holding a timeshare and ran contrary to what they were told when being enticed at the sales stage.

The publicity generated in this case helped expose RCI’s modus operandi in the opaque world of timeshare exchange and potentially reached many more frustrated holiday makers who might be owed rightful compensation. Although the judgment handed down in October 2016 found RCI was in breach of contract and had misled its members, the test claimants were not found to have proved individual loss. Edwin Coe is therefore considering an appeal on this issue.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Fashion Retailer Copyright Dispute

Bell Yard was hired by a European retailer to expose its copyright dispute with a UK online fashion retailer intent on expanding into the European’s home market. Our client saw the potential for customer confusion, owing to the written and oral similarities of its brand name, and mounted a full legal challenge in Europe.

Bell Yard prepared a series of storylines to garner media attention and carefully identified media targets. The aim was to fire a warning-shot across the bows of the UK retailer’s management, rather than to alert consumers to the legal dispute. We moved to unveil the dispute around the UK company’s financial results, in an attempt to hijack the headlines the retailer would be attracting at that time. The FT led with the story and follow-up items subsequently appeared in a number of UK national press. The dispute was also covered by retail trade publications (such as Drapers) and the marketing trade media. Naturally, news outlets chose to include photography of the UK retailer’s models on catwalks to accompany the story, which helped maximize the page space the dispute received.

Bell Yard was also hired by a consulting firm to assist during its intellectual property dispute with a competitor for alleged unlawful theft of its data. Our client had clear evidence to support its claim and was determined to protect its IP from illegitimate use, given its hard-earned and longstanding reputation.

The company decided to alert its employees to the legal action, to ensure uniformity of message should clients enquire about the case. Bell Yard provided messaging support and tactical communications advice until the matter was resolved. Ultimately our client was vindicated by the settlement of the copyright infringement claim and made a strong statement to that effect on its website. All further commentary on the matter was closed down, so as to extinguish the spotlight.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

National brewery

Bell Yard advised a company on the management of its reputation in the hospitality sector over various reputational issues that have occasionally arisen in respect of its portfolio of businesses. These issues ranged from allegations of disability discrimination against a customer with mental health difficulties which spread widely across social media, causing pick up in local and national media, to concerns raised about zero hours contracts in the hospitality and leisure industry and race discrimination in respect of a group from the travelling community. 

Throughout the management has worked quickly and effectively with Bell Yard to establish the root cause of the issue, the factual basis and to begin the engagement process not only with the complainant, but also through social and traditional media channels as well as with other interested parties such as the local MP, pressure groups etc. The swift, yet thoughtful, action taken by the group’s management with support from Bell Yard has always ensured the issues have been short-lived, without damaging the hard-earned and well-deserved positive reputation of the business.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Truck Pricing Cartel

Bell Yard was instructed by law firm Edwin Coe to secure press coverage to help develop a group of claimants for its truck price-fixing cartel litigation. Edwin Coe filed a group action in November 2018 on behalf of businesses that were seeking damages for fraudulent price-fixing by five major truck manufacturers over a 14-year period, including MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler/Mercedes, Iveco and DAF. It is estimated that some 10 million trucks were sold across the EU during the 1997-2011 period and that each one may have been overpriced by up to £10,000 as a result of the price-fixing cartel.

Bell Yard’s role was to generate press coverage about the filing in order to encourage further businesses to sign up, thereby expanding the claimant class. We drafted and issued a press release to announce the launch of the class action and explained the basis for the action, targeting specialist trade media in the retail, building and construction, logistics, farming and haulage industries as well as national and legal press. The task also involved explaining how Edwin Coe’s group action was distinct from four separate actions which had previously been filed.

We secured 15 hits in specialist press, 4 hits in legal press and an article in the national media.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

International Commodities Company

An international commodities company had successfully sued a trader for breach of contract in failing to pay $26m for cargo received. It had since tried to secure payment using the judgment without success and so turned to Bell Yard for assistance in highlighting its plight to assist in its enforcement efforts.

We worked with the legal team to publicise the worldwide freezing order (WFO) against the high-profile trader and, unusually, a warrant for his arrest from the UK High Court.

We briefed Reuters and the WSJ, both as outlets that had a potential impact on the errant trader’s business relationships. We used creative media angles – highlighting the trader’s familial ties with discredited individuals. In the end, it was the media coverage that brought the party to the table and settlement was achieved.

Our client was satisfied that timely media engagement in support of the legal process created the conditions to resolve the issue.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Hollywood Royalties

Bell Yard designed the litigation PR strategy and is managing three media teams in support of a $400m lawsuit brought in Los Angeles, California, against a European rights-owning media giant, across key jurisdictions: UK, USA & France. The claim was filed by the three members of fictitious English band “Spinal Tap” and their collaborating partner, for breach of contract over non-payment of royalties over a beloved classic mockumentary film “This is Spinal Tap”, released over three decades ago.

The Vivendi group, the current rights owner, claim the creative work has made its co-creators a mere US$81 (between them) in merchandise sales and a paltry US$98 (again, to be divided by the four) in global music sales – in some 34 years – despite the film’s continued popularity. The claim also centres on alleged fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment and seeks declaratory relief in respect of abandoned trademarks and copyright reversion.

Bell Yard’s PR team combines seamlessly both with the claimant’s IP lawyer and with the trial attorney and his team to ensure public attention is focused on the accounting practices deployed by Vivendi and its subsidiaries.

Due to the growing support of artists groups following the media coverage of this dispute, we created a dedicated website (https://www.fairnessrocks.com/) which supports other artists who find themselves in a similar position. The website is a repository of information on the whole issue of copyright and talent contracts for future creative artists, so they may not to be similarly denied the rewards of their creativity in future.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Privacy Action

Bell Yard was instructed to assist a woman whose reputation had been besmirched during the cross-fire of a privacy action brought by a premiership footballer against a national newspaper.

A court judgment upheld a temporary injunction preventing the woman (as co-defendant) and a newspaper group from naming the player with whom the woman had been having a relationship. This initially resulted in a wave of unwelcome publicity for the woman involved and yet total secrecy for the man. To make matters worse, the judge had used some particularly pejorative language against the woman, and criticised her motivation – yet she had no concurrent recourse in law to address the incorrect picture of her that he had painted.

Bell Yard advised her to give her reaction to the injunction ruling by means of a statement on the court steps. We drafted its wording. The existence of the injunction and her comments explaining the inherent unfairness were widely reported in the next day’s tabloids. Thanks to a proliferation of social media speculation and the naming of the footballer in the Commons by an MP claiming parliamentary privilege, the injunction was soon widely breached, although it technically remained in force.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Michael Jackson v Granada Media Group

Michael Jackson* & MJJ Productions* – v – Granada Media Group Limited.

Instructed the morning after Martin Bashir’s documentary ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ was aired in the UK, Bell Yard set to work devising and implementing a robust rebuttal strategy to overturn the initially hostile global media coverage.

Using MJJ Productions’ own footage of Bashir interviewing Jackson, we focused media attention on the betrayal Jackson felt at the hands of Bashir. Working closely with Jackson’s UK & US legal teams, Bell Yard led the global media handling of Jackson’s claim for injunctive relief and damages from Granada.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

U.S. copyrights dispute

Bell Yard has assisted members of an iconic British band from the 80s, seeking to take advantage of US statute which allows for the revision of US copyrights after 35 years. The tracks affected appear on each of their first 3 albums, plus of their Bond title theme, the only such title theme that reached No1 in the singles charts. 

The songwriters were challenged in the English High Court by the global rights holder which claimed their UK contracts prohibit the return to the creators of their US copyrights, notwithstanding the automatic right of creators in the US to reclaim ownership. Given the songwriters’ prominence, there was media interest in this case reaching from The Daily Mail to Music Week. Bell Yard helped manage the messaging and songwriters’ responses to the media interest as the claim was rejected by the court. An appeal is being considered.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

SRA Investigations

Bell Yard has assisted several law firms whose lawyers have been subject to investigation by the SRA. This is a public process where client, reputational and internal stakeholder considerations interplay and each requires sensitive handling throughout the various stages of investigation, and where necessary, during Disciplinary Tribunal hearings.

Bell Yard assists by recommending suitable wording for statements and handle media enquiries on law firms’ behalf during such times of intense media interest. We are also adept at hand-holding lawyers under investigation, advising on what to say to whom and at what juncture to protect individual reputations and limit personal reputational damage as far as possible.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Sex Discrimination

Bell Yard was appointed by a leading international law firm to advise on communications around its dispute with a female partner at the firm.

The partner in question had made whistleblowing allegations as well as allegations of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against the firm and issued a high profile claim attracting media attention.

The case had all the ingredients the media loves to report – namely a senior woman raising concerns about the management of operations and alleging the decision to terminate her employment related to her pregnancy. The case was also legally interesting – seeking to clarify the status of a worker under employment legislation and whether a partner was entitled to protection under whistleblowing laws. On top of this her legal advisers were well known for proactively engaging with the media on their client cases.

Bell Yard advised the law firm management and marketing team on its communications, specifically on detailed internal / media / client scripts for the matter — firstly around the complainant’s removal from the partnership, then for the initial High Court hearing about the worker component of the case, and later when this went to the Supreme Court. The strategy was to be robust and not cower at headlines designed to exert pressure. However, such was the interest in the legal issues at play, the matter grew in significance and therefore visibility. In the end an agreement was reach between the claimant and the firm prior to the employment tribunal set to hear the claim in full. Once again Bell Yard advised on the firm’s positioning.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Divorce

Advised the husband during high-profile family court proceedings involving allegations of unlawful use of private and confidential information during financial remedy proceedings.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Inheritance Dispute

Bell Yard was instructed by a retained law firm client to publicise a High Court judgment which ruled in favour of its client, whereby a sibling challenged the contents of his parents’ will which had favoured the youngest child. Inheritance disputes are always emotionally charged and therefore require particularly sensitive handling.

On the mother’s passing in 2014 (the father had died in 2009), the family home was left to the youngest son, together with a cash sum equivalent to the nil band rate.

The elder sibling brought a claim challenging his mother’s will in early 2017, alleging that his mother could not read English, as she predominantly read and spoke Hindi, and therefore, she would not have been able to read or understand the English will.

The elder sibling also alleged there was “dominance” of the mother by the father, claiming the will was drafted at his direction, with little or no involvement from his mother.

However, the judge concluded that the elder sibling had failed to establish any suspicious circumstances surrounding the legitimacy of the will and therefore threw out the claim.

Bell Yard publicised the outcome in the Asian press, highlighting the successful defence by its client, as well as shedding light on the judgment’s significance – namely that ‘want of knowledge and approval’ claims are sometimes seen by claimants as an easier route to challenging a will than on other grounds. However, this case demonstrated the opposite.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Coroner’s Inquest

Bell Yard was instructed to assist the widow of a gentleman killed following a motorway incident.

The widow was deeply concerned by partial reports of evidence from the coroner’s inquest. We assisted our client by providing her with an opportunity to be heard publicly to ensure a fairer portrayal of her husband’s character as a devoted partner and father, and the circumstances that lead to the tragedy that befell him, for the sake of their young child’s memory.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Westminster Bridge Inquest

Bell Yard was instructed by a retained client to provide PR support to the family of a police officer killed in a terrorist attack while on duty at the Houses of Parliament. Bell Yard publicised the family’s concerns over the conduct of the Coroner’s Inquest and the Met Police’s engagement with the Inquest.

Bell Yard provided sensitive and diligent PR support to the family throughout the course of the Inquest, working with them prior to the Inquest to determine the key messages to communicate to the media. Bell Yard worked with the family to decide on the most appropriate publication to brief, to ensure their desired aims were met, whilst protecting them from the demands of an unsurprisingly keen press pack, curious as to the family’s sentiments on the matter. We secured an interview with senior reporters at The Times leading to a front-page and subsequent articles carrying the family’s story.

Bell Yard also liaised with the Sun on Sunday (SoS) over its campaign to honour the fallen hero with a permanent memorial in Westminster. Bell Yard provided the family with insight on the SoS’s plans, secured a copy of the Metropolitan Police’s statement (which the Met had insensitively failed to provide to the family in advance) and drafted a quote on behalf of the family which was then published in the SoS.

Throughout the Inquest, Bell Yard managed media requests from both print and broadcast media, the latter including Sky News, BBC News and Channel 4, who sought interviews with the family. An intensely private family, each interview request was considered in detail and opportunities for comment purposefully limited to meet the desired aim of protecting their privacy but limiting exposure to allow them the utmost discretion possible in these circumstances.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Foreign Embassy

Bell Yard advised the UK Embassy of a foreign government on the reputational impact of a UK litigation. During and in the aftermath of the hearing Bell Yard actively engaged with UK and international media to ensure accuracy of reporting and to ensure the Embassy’s messaging was properly disseminated.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Article 50 challenge

The biggest question at the start of Theresa May’s management of the Brexit process, was whether she was entitled to trigger Article 50 (the notice of the UK’s formal withdrawal from the EU) without Parliament’s authorisation.

It was not only Gina Miller who issued Judicial Review proceedings challenging the Prime Minister’s sole right to do so, but also, two other claimants, including Mr Dos Santos, who was represented by Bell Yard’s client David Greene (senior partner at Edwin Coe LLP).

Our brief was to ensure Gina Miller’s arguments were not the only ones to dominate the airwaves and print media during the run up to the pivotal High Court hearing in October 2016 and subsequently when the decision was handed down on this issue of national importance. The same applied when the case went to the Supreme Court in December of the same year.

Our client, David Greene argued proper process should be followed in the triggering of Article 50. The by-passing of Parliament would be undemocratic and against the rule of law.

When the High Court agreed with the applicants, he called this “a victory for Parliament democracy over the feudal institution of Royal Prerogative”, continuing “Today some of England’s most senior judges have ruled that Parliament must be involved in this critical decision for the nation. It shows political leaders are not above the law and that Brexit must follow due process.”

The coverage achieved at this first stage ran to some 80-pages, including quotes in The Sun, The Mail and the Financial Times through to papers all around the world from Hawaii to Bury St Edmonds and on SKY and CNN online. The fact David was the first lawyer to make a statement on the High Court steps welcoming the judgment, helped ensure high-profile coverage throughout the day on the BBC amongst other outlets.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the claimants’ position and David Greene then made a further statement welcoming the judgment and the determination made “purely on the legal issues” against such a politically charged backdrop. Once again his quotes were carried by almost all national media from the FT to Metro.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Carole Caplin v Daily Mail

Bell Yard was instructed by the health and fitness coach, Carole Caplin, on the occasion of her settlement with the Daily Mail over a seriously defamatory article written about her in September 2010 concerning former clients ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Booth.

Bell Yard worked with Carole’s advisors to draft her out-of-court media statement. We provided the narrative that explained why, after not fighting to clear her name following numerous inaccurate, unfair and damaging press mentions over the past 17 years, she decided the time had come to take a stand.

We obtained maximum publicity for the Mail’s retraction, securing a number of high profile broadcast interview opportunities on the BBC (both TV and radio) as well as ITV News. (The broadcast clips were syndicated with 69 separate airings). Bell Yard also achieved wide press acknowledgement of the settlement of her defamation action including an in-depth interview in Evening Standard. During the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, the former Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman Alistair Campbell apologised to Carole for falsely accusing her of leaking stories to the media years earlier. The reports of his apology also referenced the recent Daily Mail apology and settlement.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Ecoli Outbreak

Advised family butcher during HSE investigation following ecoli outbreak.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Racial Discrimination

Bell Yard advised a former senior executive at a medical device company who was suing his former employer for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and racial and sexual orientation discrimination.

Our client alleged he was dismissed from his role for raising awareness of the security flaws that bugged the medical device app and Facebook site. He began legal proceedings after his employment was terminated, filing his tribunal claim in April 2018.

Bell Yard reviewed the contents of his submissions, drafted a media briefing, and selected key media in the data security and IT fields to brief on the eve of tribunal. Throughout the hearing Bell Yard kept interested reporters abreast of evidence and of the trial progress.

On judgment, Bell Yard was ready to issue one of two pre-prepped outcome reactions, naturally amended in light of the content of the judgment, to ensure the media would be briefed of the outcome and furnished with our client’s reaction as required. The claimant succeeded in his unfair dismissal claim but lost on the discrimination aspects.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Corby Families

Bell Yard supported the Corby families and their lawyer, Des Collins, with the announcement of the conclusion of their long-running legal battle with Corby Borough Council over what has been described as the biggest child poisoning case since the thalidomide scandal of the 1960s and 70s.

Collins Solicitors was representing the 19 children who suffered birth defects that their families’ claimed were due to the toxic dust their mothers ingested during Corby Borough Council’s redevelopment of the old British Steel site in Corby. Bell Yard devised an “A” and “B” strategy in preparation for a constructive mediation or otherwise.

In the event, the mediation was successful. The families finally received compensation and an apology from the Council and the prospect of further prolonged and expensive litigation was stayed.

Bell Yard developed messaging documents for the families and their lawyers to set an appropriate tone for media interviews. It was agreed that the main point to emphasize was the families’ relief that the validity of their case had finally been recognized. Furthermore it was important to convey that their long fight had been more over the principle than securing financial recompense.

On the day of the settlement, Bell Yard organized a press briefing in Corby for local media, complete with a congratulatory message to the families from US activist lawyer Erin Brockovich, given the similarities between her well-known case and this. Local print, online, radio and tv news led heavily with the settlement story that evening and included interviews with some of the families, their lawyer and footage of the jubilatory gesture of releasing balloons to mark the end of this protracted case,

Nationally, the challenge was to secure coverage for the families’ good news, despite media preoccupation with election and volcanic ash stories. It made the BBC 5 o’clock tv news and national radio news and every national paper (bar the FT) ran items the next day.

Lawyer Des Collins was also quoted on The Lawyer’s website about Lord Jackson’s legal proposals potentially endangering this type of group action litigation. And his colleague Danielle was “lawyer in the news” in Law Society Gazette magazine.

Bell Yard helped ensure that the end of this landmark legal case achieved the attention it deserved.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Inquest into Care Home Death

Bell Yard advised the owner of a group of care homes following concerns raised by a relative of a former resident.

There was a Coroner’s Inquest into the death of the resident which supported the care home’s narrative. The local media were contacted by the family and the care home had been invited to participate in the segment of the case to appear on the BBC’s nightly news show: Spotlight, when Bell Yard was instructed.

Bell Yard’s support and counsel was two-pronged: we ensured transparent communications among staff, residents and their families, conveying facts to prevent an inaccurate narrative from prevailing.

Secondly, Bell Yard prepared the client to appear on local media, advising them on how best to articulate the findings of the Coroner’s report, which concluded that the care home bore no responsibility for the death of the former resident.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Bell Yard represented independent trader Rajesh Gill in his successful fraudulent misrepresentation claim against his former broker, MF Global (Parabola Investments Limited* v MF Global UK Limited).

After an extremely prosperous start to his trading career, Mr Gill transferred his high-volume account to Union Cal (later acquired by MF Global), managed by an individual broker, Matthew Bomford. Unbeknown to Gill, his account immediately began losing significant funds, allegedly as a result of a repeated and deliberate series of failings and dishonesty at the hands of Mr Bomford. Bell Yard was instructed to protect Mr Gill’s reputation in the face of aggressive denials as to MF Global’s their liability and unfound assertions by MF Global as to Mr Gill’s competency.

Mr Gill first lodged his claim in 2006, having spent the previous four years investigating the cause of the account’s haemorrhaging fund balance. Ever since Mr Gill discovered the losses in 2002, he showed great tenacity in a protracted battle to try to get MF Global to take responsibility and accept liability in respect of fraud. However, barely two weeks into the five-week High Court trial, following Bomford’s illusory testimony, MF Global finally capitulated and admitted vicarious liability for fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit. This change of heart avoided the need for MF Global’s senior management to appear in court to give sworn evidence in a case that had, through Bell Yard’s efforts, attracted an increasingly high profile in the financial media.

In May 2009, the High Court awarded Mr Gill just under £20 million compensation in what was a landmark ruling for a lost profits case. Bell Yard worked to ensure this award received wide post-verdict coverage. The judgment was unsuccessfully appealed by the defendant.

Mr Gill was represented by Peter Atkinson of Gordon Dadds Solicitors and Neil Kitchener QC of One Essex Court Chambers.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

FCA Prosecution

Bell Yard was appointed to represent a senior banker facing an announcement of the FCA’s prosecution against him.

The banker was a former senior manager at Northern Rock who was investigated for alleged misreporting mortgage arrears in the months prior to the bank’s collapse in 2007.

He was fined and barred from working in a regulated financial services firm in one of the first successful prosecutions by the financial regulator of a UK banker for actions during the financial crisis.

Bell Yard worked with the client and his legal team to craft a suitable media statement to respond to the FCA announcement and acted as his press officers on this matter for a period after the FCA notice was published. Unusually for someone of his seniority in his field, the client wanted to publicly express his sadness at his error of judgment and to offer his deep regret. Yet it was important to emphasis to interested journalists that the misreporting of figures was not a direct cause of Northern Rock’s collapse.

Given the inevitable attention this announcement would attract, the client agreed to read his statement to camera personally for broadcasters and print media still photos, partly to face the music in line with his personal conviction, but also in an attempt to head off the inevitable doorstepping that he and his family might otherwise have experienced.

In the event, our client was not heavily demonized on a personal level in media reports. Inevitably, the headlines were not positive, but most commentators also looked at the wider issues and processes amiss at the bank rather than focusing solely on our client’s actions.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Credit Suisse

Bell Yard was approached by the beneficial owner of companies with rights to a large onshore oil & gas field in Azerbaijan. His companies were suing the investment bankers (Credit Suisse) he had appointed as M&A advisors. The claimants alleged breach of contract and negligence in relation to the sale of the companies’ 51% stake in the asset, alleging the sale was forced by Credit Suisse at a US$700m undervalue.

Bell Yard secured a number of high-profile media placements around the date the claim was first filed. Thereafter, we retained the media focus at tactically important times in the litigation both pre & during trial. We engaged both international and Swiss media, given the nature of the claim and its parties.

While the media spotlight did not cause defendant to settle it did make uncomfortable reading for the bank and its key individuals named in the filing.

Ultimately, the bank successfully defended most aspects of its case but under scrutiny, with implications for the managers involved.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Director Fraud

Bell Yard was hired by a private, regulated funds management company on the Isle of Man to advise on communications following a suspicion of fraud by one of its Directors.

Initially the plan was to contain any information about the problem as far as possible whilst PwC conducted a full investigation into the extent and impact of the fraud. However client scripts were prepared in case of enquiries about why the company had applied for freezing orders to protect its funds and as to the whereabouts of the perpetrator. We also prepared for news of any arrest given the police involvement.

In the event, a local media enquiry about a possible 8 figure fraud at the company and the local financial regulator and police confirming their investigations, triggered the need for a public response and careful client communications.

Bell Yard continued to advise on communications in support of each new development in the story – the local paper following this issue reported when the company sought to recover funds from the Director concerned, when the family confirmed his disappearance, when the police eventually arrested him and when his case finally came to trial. Media responses and investor client scripts were required on each occasion.

In the end the fraudster was sentenced to over 10 years in prison for theft and fraud totalling around £5.5m with local papers and the local BBC reporting the news.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad was arrested in London on 5 August 2004 following an extradition request from the US on allegations of terrorism, by dint of the fact that that he established Azzam.com, a website supporting Chechen and Taliban fighters that shut down in 2002. 

The ‘evidence’ supporting the US allegations was the same material that had been reviewed the previous year by the Met, and on which the Crown Prosecution Service declared in July 2004 some months before the US demand for an arrest was executed, that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge him with any criminal offence under UK law. Yet this UK-based ‘evidence’ was thereafter sent to the US prosecutors who inexplicably reached the opposite conclusion.

This began the 9 year detention of Babar in the UK whilst he fought extradition to the US and for a UK trial instead – resulting in Babar becoming the longest-held person on remand in British history.

Whilst imprisoned, Bell Yard assisted his family with their campaigning www.freebabarahmad.com, to broaden his support based on the fundamental principles of fair trials for all, and highlighting the absurdity of extraditing in circumstances were the defendant, alleged conduct and ‘evidence’ all resided in the UK. A number of parliamentary briefings were organised, together with regular press releases to UK media to keep them up-to-date on the injustice that Babar was facing in order to encourage the Home Office to not accede to the US’s extradition request. Making UK legal history, BBC’s Newsnight programme aired a pre-trial interview with Babar whilst still in detention at HMP Long Lartin following a lengthy battle by the BBC against the Ministry of Justice for the right to broadcast an interview with a detainee. In another first, campaigners secured over 150,000 signatories to a parliamentary petition seeking to end the continued detention on remand and calling for Babar to be put on trial in the UK. This resulted in two parliamentary debates on the subject of his case and extradition to the US more broadly.

Unfortunately, all legal challenges failed and Babar was extradited to the US on 5th October 2012. He was held in solitary confinement in a Supermax prison, awaiting trial. Babar endured these conditions for 14 months and thereafter pled guilty to one count of providing material support to ‘terrorists’. He admitted running a website that called for financial contribution to support the Taliban and the Muslims in the Chechen war. 

He was sentenced to 12 and half years by the judge, and the 10 years he had already spent in prison would be credited against that sentence. Judge Hall’s sentencing remarks reflected the views that his campaigners had held for the previous decade or so: She ruled “There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot … Neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism …” She described Ahmad as a “good person” who she believed posed no threat to the public and stated she had weighed the seriousness of his crime with his good character after reading thousands of letters of support and hearing from British prison officials who described him as an exemplary inmate…. “It appears to me that he [Babar] is a generous, thoughtful person who is funny and honest. He is well liked and humane and empathetic… This is a good person who does not, and will not, act in the future to harm other people.”

Babar returned to the UK in 2015 eventually free to resume his life.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

SFO & Severn Trent Water

This case offered an interesting example of media scrutiny of individuals who have no opportunity to defend themselves in court.

In 2008, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was prosecuting STW for ‘knowingly and/or recklessly providing false information’ on water leakage to its regulator, OFWAT, in 2001 and 2002.

Severn Trent pleaded guilty to two offences under the Water Industry Act. In court and in media statements, the company repeatedly criticised the ‘previous regime’.

The company’s decision to plead guilty was made in the knowledge that former Directors had resolutely denied any suggestion of personal wrongdoing. It is the uncomfortable circumstance of corporate prosecutions that allows companies to blame individuals without affording the opportunity to those identified individuals to defend themselves since they are not personally parties to the prosecution.

Bell Yard aided Mr Duckworth to respond to Severn Trent’s statements and ensure that he received an opportunity to give an account of himself and his conduct through the media, given he was denied that chance in the ordinary course of the legal proceedings.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Sale of Asian Oil Field

Bell Yard advised the beneficial owners of two companies suing a Swiss bank at the High Court in London for breach of duty over the sale, at an undervalue, of its oil field asset in Central Asia.

Bell Yard highlighted to media key reports from court of the inadequacy of the M&A process and the independent experts’ research into the potential value of the claimants’ interest in the oil field. When the High Court found that the bank did not owe a duty of care to the claimants.

Bell Yard was on hand to focus attention on the Bank’s “reprehensible” conduct and derogatory attitude to its client, made plain in a series of emails as reported in the judgment. Efforts to appeal against the judgment of the first instance court are ongoing.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Russian Commodities Assets Dispute

Bell Yard was appointed as litigation PR specialists to support the existing corporate PR agency of a Russian commodity company and its high profile CEO, during its defence of a long-running London-based dispute over Russian assets. It was then one of largest ever commercial litigations to be heard in a British court.

The case had all the hallmarks that usually attract media headlines. It lifted the lid on the lawlessness and violence of the natural resources wars in the post-USSR era. Some 70 witnesses were due to participate, some anonymously, and the claimant by video for fear of arrest were he to step foot in the UK. The claimant was also alleging intimidation and fears for his safety, suggestions of which the defendant hotly disputed.

The PR battle was certainly as intense as the legal fight, which itself had been going on for some time before Bell Yard was appointed. We worked with both the defendant legal team and its existing PRs with assiduous PR planning of storylines, target media and media briefings ahead of trial.

The UK and international media were equally as important given the global empires and reputations of the characters involved and their myriad of stakeholders.

An unexpected out-of-court settlement occurred after the opening of trial, when the skeleton arguments were officially in the public domain. A little-known reference to an overseas judgment proved toxic & difficult to counter at the 11th hour with no pre-warning, which simply underlined need for close cooperation between lawyer, client and PR, from the earliest possible time in any litigation.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Tajikistan Aluminium Dispute

Bell Yard advised Ansol, an international aluminium trading company, in its various high-octane disputes against TadAZ (now known as Talco) the Tajikistan aluminium smelter (Ansol* & Otrs* – v – RUSAL (Russian Aluminium Company), TadAZ & Otrs).

Following early settlement, the world’s second largest aluminium company, RUSAL, was removed as a co-defendant in the action. The litigation involved multi-jurisdictional actions, freezing orders, worldwide injunctions and counterclaims as part of the multi-million dollar litigation over an alleged breach of a joint venture agreement.

The case finally settled on confidential terms one month in to the anticipated six month trial, in November 2008, following transnational media coverage across the UK, Russia and Tajikistan.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Independent school fraud

Bell Yard was engaged by a private school in London to assist with communications around a fraud issue. They had discovered that a business manager had submitted false expense claims over a 1.5 year period amounting to nearly £250,000. A settlement was agreed with the perpetrator for repayment of money owed, however given the police had commenced criminal proceedings, the fraud was bound to become known during a public court hearing.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees asked Bell Yard to help prepare communications to staff, parents, donors and the media.

Our advice was to present this as a shocking and blatant breach of trust by a rogue former employee but one with no negative impact on the accounts or financial viability of any of schools concerned. There was no black hole nor had the thefts disrupted any planned expenditure on pupils, staff or facilities and a plan was in place to achieve repayment of the stolen funds. We prepared various letters and statements to have ready for the possibility of a leak before the court appearance.

In the event local media did attend the court hearing triggering a letter to parents and staff. In addition Bell Yard advised how to respond to a Mumsnet thread which touched on the fraud issue and required careful handling.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Trustee Fraud

Bell Yard assisted an international children’s charity when it decided to take action in London against a former UK Trustee. The claim, which involved Summary Judgment proceedings in the High Court, was bought in order to recover sizeable unauthorised payments improperly received by the Trustee.

The payments were in contravention of UK charity law and the charity’s own articles of association.

Although the charity was ultimately successful in recovering the funds, the effect of a public court case meant that its governance, internal politics and financial affairs were in the spotlight and reportable. The reputation considerations were further complicated by the defendant former Trustee choosing to use colourful and emotive language designed to attract public attention, no matter the veracity. Bell Yard’s key task was to work with the Charity to create a style of rebuttal that informed but resisted the temptation to out-shout the defendant. The Charity’s position was vindicated by the legal outcome.

In the event the dispute stayed out of the national press but Third Sector magazine closely followed the case. News reports of the judgment were amplified by an in-depth feature piece, which gave a platform to the counter accusations and defence of the former Trustee. Bell Yard ensured the Charity’s rebuttal was robust and timely.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Charity Fraud

Bell Yard was hired by a private, regulated funds management company to advise on communications following a suspicion of fraud by one of its Directors.

Initially the plan was to contain any information about the problem as far as possible whilst PwC conducted a full investigation into the extent and impact of the fraud. However client scripts were prepared in case of enquiries about why the company had applied for freezing orders to protect its funds and as to the whereabouts of the perpetrator. We also prepared for news of any arrest given the police involvement.

In the event, a local media enquiry about a possible 8 figure fraud at the company and the local financial regulator and police confirming their investigations, triggered the need for a public response and careful client communications.

Bell Yard continued to advise on communications in support of each new development in the story – the local paper following this issue reported when the company sought to recover funds from the Director concerned, when the family confirmed his disappearance, when the police eventually arrested him and when his case finally came to trial. Media responses and investor client scripts were required on each occasion.

In the end the fraudster was sentenced to over 10 years in prison for theft and fraud totalling around £5.5m with local papers and the local BBC reporting the news but the company’s reputation was upheld.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Jeremy Crook

As a result of our work for the NatWest 3, Jerry approached Bell Yard to seek its support for continuing the fight against certain provisions in the 2003 Extradition Act.

In a case not dissimilar to the NW3, Jerry Crook was, until 2001, Vice-President of the European operations of Peregrine Systems, a US-headquartered technology company. Peregrine collapsed in 2002. In October 2004, unbeknown to him, Jerry was indicted in the US on fraud charges relating to Peregrine’s bankruptcy. His extradition from the UK was sought in 2006. Determined to clear his name and to uncover the supposed ‘evidence’ against him allegedly being held by US prosecutors, he attempted to waive his extradition rights and travel voluntarily to the US. He hoped to not be automatically labelled a ‘flight risk’ by the US Government, as are all those who exercise their constitutional right to contest extradition. However, the UK’s then Home Secretary refused to let him waive his rights, citing that extradition proceedings were already underway. This meant the CPS refused to hand him back his passport preventing his voluntary travel to the US, despite his decision not to contest the extradition request. He therefore was extradited by US marshals to San Diego, California in September 2006.

He was granted bail which required him to remain in San Diego, although he was allowed periodic short returns to the UK over the next 2½ years. After several trial delays coupled with the US prosecutor’s refusal to grant immunity to his witnesses thereby restricting his ability to mount a proper defence at trial (similar to NW3), the last straw for Jerry was undoubtedly the Department of Justice threatening to indict his main defence witness if she testified for him. So, like many extradites before him, and many after, Jerry felt compelled to plead guilty to one count of ‘wire fraud’ in February 2009. His ‘admission’ amounted to signing a contract with BT which others, not him, later used to manipulate the market.

In March 2009, San Diego newspapers reported that the U.S. attorney’s office dropped charges against the last remaining defendant in the Peregrine Systems case, a week after a jury could not reach a verdict in his case, resulting in a mistrial.

Jerry was finally sentenced in May 2009 to 27 months in custody plus a fine of $750,000 in restitution (despite there being no suggestion that Jerry personally profited from the contract).

The noteworthy result of this long-standing Peregrine Systems prosecution was that all four executives who took their case to trial in the US were eventually freed, as the trials ended with deadlocked juries. Fifteen former Peregrine officials entered plea bargains.

Jerry had to report to a US prison in Pennsylvania before 10 July 2009 to begin his sentence which he has now completed, following a prison transfer to the UK in 2010.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Richard O’Dwyer

We were asked to assist Richard O’Dwyer, the 23yr old Sheffield Hallam University student who faced prosecution in the US for copyright infringement.

Bell Yard assisted Richard and his family in exposing the ongoing and very real danger of extradition that arises from the disproportionate and unnecessary pursuit of British citizens by the US Department of Justice. We also continue to demonstrate the lack of protection in the UK’s legislation against such wide-ranging extra-territorial reach.

Richard was alleged to have infringed the copyright of the Motion Picture Association of America by setting up a website (TVShack.net) which directed visitors to sites on the internet where they could download US tv shows and films for free. However, European case law suggests that by merely acting as a conduit, a website cannot be held to be infringing copyright.

Richard and his mother, with Bell Yard’s assistance, raised further awareness of the one-sided and unfair nature of Britain’s extradition legislation. To that end, Bell Yard established a website www.friends-extradited.org. Richard was supported by the founder of Wikipeadia, Jimmy Wales, and the UK’s Guardian newspaper. In November 2012 he eventually secured a deferred prosecution agreement with the DoJ with a promise not to attempt to infringe copyright and in return for a fine and no term of imprisonment, in lieu of extradition.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

Chris Tappin

Bell Yard assisted Chris Tappin and his family in attracting media interest in the absurdity of his extradition to the US. After his appeal was rejected by the High Court in February 2012, Chris was extradited on 24 February 2012 to Houston and then flown to El Paso, Texas awaiting a US trial.

Chris was incarcerated pending a bail hearing at a county prison across the border in Otero, New Mexico. It was hoped that the UK government would have been sufficiently moved by Mr Tappin’s plight, a 65 year old grandfather, President of Kent Golf Union and an upstanding member of his community, so as to seek to ensure his release on bail. The UK government let Chris down. In the event, it was his US lawyer’s offer to house him in his own home, which secured Chris’ bail after 8 weeks incarceration, to allow him to begin the process of defending himself against allegations of conspiring to export controlled items (batteries) from the USA, which the US Government claims were intended for us in hawk missiles in Iran. Throughout, Mr Tappin vehemently denied knowingly being party to such an act. Moreover he contended that the case against him was misguided and results from a sting operation by US Government agents. Following months of requests to receive the exculpatory evidence from the US DoJ, after which he was informed that transcripts of the FBI taped calls had been ‘lost’, Chris decided to put an end to the on-going uncertainty of his stay in the US. He plead guilty to one count of conspiracy, which allowed him to serve most of his 33 month sentence back home in the UK, close to his family.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley

NatWest Three

Bell Yard advised three former NatWest executives who faced extradition to the US, in both their Judicial Review of the decision of the Director of the SFO not to investigate the three for alleged fraud, and in their extradition appeal.

At the outset of Bell Yard’s involvement in August 2004, the media perception was one of three alleged fraudsters trying to escape justice. As a result of repeated and detailed media briefings and political lobbying, together with tactical third party endorsement, the perception evolved to one of three former bankers pleading guilty to one count of conflict of interest in the face of prolonged and disproportionate disruption to their family lives as a result of an unfair and non-reciprocal extradition treaty, poorly negotiated by the then UK government.

As a direct result of this case, the business community has now woken up to the dangers of the 2003 Extradition Act. As we predicted at the time, a raft of cases followed in the footsteps of the ‘NatWest 3’, after their unsuccessful hearings in the Magistrates Court, Court of Appeal, Judicial Review and the refusal of the House of Lords to hear matters which opponents of the Extradition Act considered to be of genuine public interest.

Bell Yard was responsible for ensuring the media were fully briefed on each of the legal rulings and their implications. We remain active, on a pro-bono basis, until such time as we and others are successful in ensuring that a fairer extradition regime is brought into play.

Bell Yard was also responsible for working with prominent entrepreneur Karl Watkin MBE to arrange a protest march to the Home Office by business people concerned by the current US/UK extradition arrangements, which attracted around 200 attendees and secured over 400 signatories to the petition to the Home Office, and secured prime time television, national and international coverage.

We also sought to change the Extradition Act to include a forum provision – which eventually was enacted by Home Secretary Theresa May, albeit the version of the forum bar to extradition she chose to introduce was weighted significantly in favour of the prosecutors and against the interests of defendants. As a result, Bell Yard continues to see unfair and disproportionate efforts by the US government to extradite British citizens and sees first hand the terror this causes innocent victims and their families. We pledge to continue to highlight these injustices until the law is more finely balanced between protecting victims of criminality and protecting defendants from disproportionate abuses of freedom and rights by the state.

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley