The trials of a lawyer in the limelight

Representing Nick Leeson has propelled Stephen Pollard into a high-profile world. He tells David Hellier how he's bearing up

T he past seven months have been a novel experience for Stephen Pollard, the man who has been representing Nick Leeson, the former Barings trader now languishing in a Frankfurt jail. Pollard, a partner at the City law firm of Kingsley Napley, says that nothing he has ever experienced has quite prepared him for the deluge of publicity surrounding the case.

"While this firm has had the experience of high-profile cases in the past, like the Jeremy Thorpe case, or the Blue Arrow or Barlow Clowes fraud cases, there has been nothing that could have prepared me or the firm for this. The width and the consistent depth of interest, not just from the UK but from overseas too, has just not gone away. It has been relentless."

There are some who say that Pollard has orchestrated the whole press campaign himself, that he signed up Sir Tim Bell, Baroness Thatcher's favourite spin doctor, and organised a carefully planned campaign to pressure the British authorities into seeking his client's extradition to the UK.

To an extent they are right. Pollard does not deny that he sought advice from a public relations specialist and admits that another colleague in his firm sought out Sir Tim at an early stage in the proceedings for an initial sounding. But he rejects the suggestion that he has always had a master plan.

"I think what we have done has evolved from day to day. I'm not saying we haven't sponsored some of the media's interest, but I have not had a master plan.

"I had to correct the misapprehension from an early stage that Nick Leeson was a mindless yob from Watford and that this was a Singaporean matter that had no relevance to the UK ... but I never dreamt at the end of June that we were going to end up doing all this."

During the past few weeks Pollard has held two London press conferences, he has brokered an interview for his client with Sir David Frost on national television, and he has accompanied Lisa, the former trader's wife, to countless television interviews, both on network and cable channels.

Pollard focused his attention on domestic opinion, having been advised that he would be wasting his time trying to use public pressure to persuade the German authorities against accepting the Singapore extradition application. He always felt that if he could get the UK authorities to make a move, the German authorities would put up little opposition to it. "When it was clear to the Serious Fraud Office that he was going to confess to serious offences here, I thought that he would be brought back here for trial.

"It was only when the SFO said that they did not wish to go to Frankfurt that I thought we had to get up a head of steam. It has been a very exceptional case in that until last week there were no charges against my client in the UK. That has given us more freedom to explain our case than one normally gets in a criminal case."

Pollard, who is in his mid-thirties, joined Kingsley Napley, possibly the best-known criminal law firm in London, after a spell with the Crown Prosecution Service. After an Oxford education, he was articled with Payne Hicks and Beach as a commercial lawyer.

Later he changed to crime. "I got fed up arguing about other people's money," he says, adding that he finds criminal work much more fundamental.

He was chosen for the Leeson case by his firm partly because he speaks German, but mainly because of his experience of working on cases involving the futures and options markets. His first taste of this world came in 1990 when he represented two directors of DPR Futures, who were acquitted after an SFO trial in which they were charged with conspiracy to defraud. That experience led to Pollard representing a number of other clients before the Securities and Futures Association, one of the City's more aggressive regulatory bodies.

He appears to have survived, if not enjoyed, being in the limelight during the current case, although he has found it exceptionally stressful. "In most cases, if you do something wrong, you just have the client to answer to," he says. "In this case, the spotlight is such that there are potentially very high benefits but equally potentially high disbenefits."

John Coyle, a public relations adviser whose clients have included George Walker, who endured and walked free from a long SFO trial, says of Pollard's work on the Leeson case: "If the object of the exercise was to get the trial over here, then I suppose it has failed miserably.

"But as a public relations campaign, I think he's made a good fist of it. It was a good move to use Lisa. She came across very well. The only way of getting Leeson over here was to create a clamour and I think he did as well as he could to do that. Perhaps the ammunition just was not there in the end."

As for Pollard, he appears to have been genuinely moved by his client's troubles. "I've grown fond of the clients, Lisa and her parents ... but at the moment I cannot think of anything else I can really do."

world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

    £40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF,...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice