As libel trials go, Roman Polanski’s recent claim against magazine Vanity Fair was pretty sensational. With witnesses including actor Mia Farrow and stories of wild affairs set against the background of a violent murder, it was a case followed closely by the broadsheets and tabloids alike.
Vanity Fair had published an article in 2002 alleging that, shortly after the murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate by Charles Manson’s gang in 1969, the film director had attempted to seduce a Swedish model in a New York restaurant.
To defend the article, publishers Condé Nast turned to Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) media partner David Hooper and Tom Shields QC of One Brick Court. Hooper and Shields, both experts in media law, have worked together several times before.
But Polanski’s solicitors, Schillings, took a different tack and looked outside the usual roster of media law chambers for the silk who would fight for Polanski in the High Court.
John Kelsey-Fry QC, a tenant at Hollis Whiteman Chambers, is a vastly experienced criminal barrister reputed for his fraud and crime work. Appointed silk in 2000, Kelsey-Fry – or simply ‘Kelsey’ as he is called by most people – has prosecuted a number of high-profile murder and fraud cases.