Tim Hughes practices law specialising in “neighbour disputes”. But he’s now about to fly to Bagdad to help defend a new client: Saddam Hussein.

A British, West Country solicitor who claims expertise in “neighbour disputes” has flown to the Middle East to join Saddam Hussein’s 20-strong legal team, it emerged yesterday.

Tim Hughes, 35, from Tiverton, Devon, said Saddam had a fundamental right to legal representation. His firm, Bevan Ashford, which has offices in the west country and London, insisted that the firm was not acting for Saddam.

Mr Hughes, a partner in the firm, was on a “fact-finding mission” with the legal team.

The married father-of-three was approached by a French lawyer to join the team “to review principles of international justice surrounding the forthcoming trial”. Information on Mr Hughes from the Law Society shows not a specialist in international law but a typical country solicitor: areas of expertise include crime (including motor offences); family law; general litigation; debt and money advice; employment; and neighbour disputes. The international legal team has been assembled by a Jordanian lawyer who was hired by Saddam’s wife and children.

Mr Hughes said: “It’s simply a question of taking an opportunity which presented itself.

“I gave it some thought. They are issues which I have always had an interest in.”

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