Penningtons has confirmed that it is representing Teodoro Obiang, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea.
The firm was on the rack for this three years ago when Henry Page, one of its partners, was bollocked by a judge for going after Simon Mann. Page left to set up a law firm in Paris, where he continues to act for Obiang - and he uses Penningtons as his London agent. The firm is currently acting on Obiang's behalf in the House of Lords trying to win damages for the attempted coup that Mann is accused of organising.
Last week Mann was extradited from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea before his team could launch an appeal. His lawyer claims that he was illegally abducted. Obiang, who has been accused of eating parts of his executed rivals, has been quoted as saying that he will personally rape Mann before skinning him alive.
|Simon Mann looking worried yesterday|
None of which seems to be bothering Penningtons. A spokeswoman at the firm's appropriately-named Gutter Lane offices confirmed its involvement, but said that "as a firm, we do not comment externally on our clients". So she wouldn't be drawn on why the firm sees nothing wrong with acting for brutal (but, of course, extremely rich) dictators that no-one else will touch with a bargepole.
Several readers see plenty wrong with it and have written in to suggest that Penningtons risks bringing the profession into disrepute.