Sought-after legal peer who has 'seen it all'

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LORD MISHCON has had a good week. Two of the solicitor's famous clients, Lord Archer and the Princess of Wales, have monopolised newspaper front pages and his time. According to other lawyers, they asked the right man for advice.

'Choosing Lord Mishcon was one of the Princess of Wales's better judgements,' a senior fellow solicitor said yesterday. 'He's seen it all, done it all; people go to him for sound advice.'

Lord Mishcon, created a life peer in 1976, has never had a high public profile, but behind the scenes he is spoken of as an important man, and a charming one. 'He is one of those people who is pivotal, but don't come into the limelight very much,' David Solomon, a partner in DJ Freeman, said.

The peer, now 79, was Labour's spokesman in the Lords on Home Affairs from 1983 until 1990. He still speaks on legal affairs and, according to another Labour peer, attends the Lords virtually every day where his speeches command respect.

The Princess first used the firm of Mishcon de Reya to issue writs against the Sunday Mirror and a gymnasium over publication of photographs of her exercising last November.

'He has an extraordinary sense of judgement,' Mr Solomon said. 'He is very tactful, shrewd and clear- thinking.'

Although, under his professional guidance, both Gerald Ronson and now Lord Archer have made confessions of misjudgement, a qualified mea culpa, it is hard to detect this as a common theme running through Lord Mishcon's advice over the years. In fact, as a friend and long-term solicitor to Robert Maxwell, he could equally be accused of the opposite tendency.

He has a wide experience of public life outside the law, serving on committees as diverse as the London Tourist Board and the South Bank Theatre Board, and, for six years, as vice president of the Board of Deputes of British Jews.

He unsuccessfully contested four Parliamentary elections in the 1950s, and chaired most of the committees of the London County Council in the 1950s and 1960s.

According to Mr Solomon, his experience is such that he knows more about most specialisms than specialist lawyers. Perhaps even more important, he also 'knows a lot of people', according to colleagues, and is as likely as any lawyer to be able to settle a case out of court.

(Photograph omitted)