How it looked, except the lawyers weren't there and they probably weren't smiling.
Bob Seely, the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, named John Kelly from Harbottle & Lewis, Nigel Tait from Carter Ruck, Hugh Tomlinson QC from Matrix Chambers and Geraldine Proudler from CMS in a speech alleging that "oligarchs, Putin’s henchmen", were "teaming up with amoral lawyers".
Some of the defamation and media law specialists he named were involved in claims made against publisher HarperCollins and Catherine Belton, author of Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West.
Kelly represented Roman Abramovich when the billionaire successfully sued over claims that he purchased Chelsea Football Club at Putin’s behest, while Hugh Tomlinson QC represented oligarch Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, the head of Russian lender Alfa-Bank.
Tait, who is Carter Ruck's Managing Partner and the head of its Defamation Media Law practice, acted for Russian oil company Rosneft. Tait is an expert at 'reputation management', and his profile on Carter Ruck's website boasts that he has "acted for many clients who were to be featured on TV news documentaries like Panorama and Dispatches, securing either their complete removal from the programme or the removal of defamatory allegations".
Proudler was instructed on a separate matter while she was at media specialist Olswang, which later became part of CMS. The defamation lawyer acted for Major Pavel Karpov, a former policeman in Putin's Ministry of the Interior, when he sued activist Bill Browder for libel over the businessman's campaign to hold accountable those responsible for the murder in prison of whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
“You have got to wonder about the reputations these people are going to end up with in a few years' time", said Seely, who used parliamentary privilege to name and shame the quartet, free from the risk of getting sued for libel himself.
"Maybe they are really lovely people. But maybe their amorality is really going to begin to bite their reputations in a way that will be uncomfortable", he said.
Seely accused law firms of offering "a form of legalised intimidation" to silence their rivals and journalists.
"How on earth have we allowed this to happen?" he asked. "A free press should be intimidating kleptocrats and criminals. Why have we got to the position in our society, a free society, where we have kleptocrats and criminals and oligarchs intimidating a free media?"
It might have something to do with the leader of Seely’s party inviting oligarchs in 2012 to use London’s lawyers to undertake their litigation, but sadly Boris Johnson was not around to interject.
"People have the right to advice and legal representation but they are abusing it very, very badly in our society at the moment", said Seely.
Tait told RollOnFriday, "We are not working for any Russian individuals or companies seeking to challenge, overturn, frustrate or minimise sanctions and nor will we do so".
"We add that we have never acted for Russian individuals or companies seeking to challenge sanctions, nor do we act in the manner alleged by Mr Seely". Although Carter Ruck did act for Rosneft in proceedings for libel, "these were concluded last year, well before the invasion of Ukraine, which we obviously deplore", said Tait.
CMS and Harbottle & Lewis did not respond to a request for comment. But that's ok. It was great to hear from Carter Ruck twice in one month (although the first time was to cajole and threaten us not to run a story (which we ran anyway).)