Fast-talking lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano talks about hanging out with Saddam and explains why he tried to buy an Irish soccer club.
Giovanni Di Stefano’s nickname “The Devil’s Advocate” is entirely apt. He has represented many notorious clients, including Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Dr Harold Shipman, John Palmer, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, Ronald Biggs and Jeremy Bamber.
But in Ireland, Di Stefano is best known for representing John Gilligan, Paddy ‘Dutchy’ Holland, Brian Meehan, Paul Ward, Marlo Hyland, and the recently murdered John Daly.
Di Stefano runs his international law practice, Studio Legale Internazionale, from an office in Rome. At the moment, the 52-year-old lawyer is representing ‘Chemical’ Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikri in Iraq and Ian Strachan, the alleged blackmailer of a minor royal family member in the UK. He is, you might say, a busy man, with over 100 cases pending. He lives life at a frantic pace. Five minutes after our interview ends, Di Stefano jumps into his BMW and dashes to the airport, where a private plane is waiting to jet him off to Iraq for a meeting with Chemical Ali.
Di Stefano made headlines earlier this year when he attempted to prosecute, under the Geneva Conventions Act, the judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death. “He ran away from England, boy, like a rabbit on a promise. You can quote me on that,” he says, as we sip wine in his lavish apartment in the centre of Rome. “It is definitely an offence under the Geneva Convention Act, which clearly states you are entitled to a fair trial. Saddam didn’t get a fair trial. So therefore, if a judge gives a sentence of death based upon an unfair trial, you are in violation of the Geneva Conventions Act. I can prosecute. I got leave off the AG and someone advised him to fuck off. He’s in Kurdistan. Bastard!”
A man who is almost as fond of profanities as Charlie Haughey, Di Stefano has views that many will see as repugnant – particularly those on immigration. But that doesn’t bother him in the slightest. If there is one thing you can say for him, it is that he is extremely forthright and doesn’t give a monkey’s what anyone thinks of him.
His passions are football and music. He purchased the Serbian second division club FK Oblilic in partnership with the notorious Serbian paramilitary leader, Zeljko Raznatovic (Arkan), a man he unashamedly regarded as a friend. During their first two seasons in charge, they managed to get the team into the first division and even won a place in the UEFA Cup. After Arkan’s death, Di Stefano left Serbia and became director of Dundee FC. He is no longer involved in football, although two years ago he unsuccessfully attempted to purchase Shelbourne FC.
On the music front, during his teens, Di Stefano wrote a number of hit singles in Italy. More recently, he produced and orchestrated an album, entitled Seriously Single, by JustCarmen. The album includes duets with Jonathan King (yes, another client), who does a rendition of his ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’, and even Elvis Presley is resurrected for versions of ‘It’s Impossible’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’. Meanwhile, the Irish ballad group, The Bachelors, Al Martino, Mr Boogie Woogie, and Di Stefano himself, all appear on various different tracks.
As you can probably gather from this brief biography, Di Stefano is a very colourful character indeed.
JASON O’TOOLE: How did you become a lawyer for so many of the infamous?
GIOVANNI DI STEFANO: Where do you start? You start at the beginning – but is there a beginning here? Sometimes I feel I was born not in the beginning, but in the middle already! It all started with Milosevic, Arkan, then Palmer and van Hoogstraten, and then there was a documentary on me by the BBC, and then the Irish mob. But what really launched me, more than anything else, was winning the case of John Palmer, ‘Goldfinger’, in 2003. That was – without doubt – an un-winnable case. But because a confiscation notice was not properly written in its formal, that document became invalid. That effectively lost the Crown £47million and got his life back because, otherwise, Palmer would still be in jail – and he would die in prison.
Depending on whether the client is innocent or guilty, do you approach cases differently?
I don’t give a damn. I try not to even see the client, if I can, because then I’m potentially compromised. We act upon instructions. If Satan tells me that he is not guilty, I must go along that line of what he says. Now what do I believe? That’s a different story. Beliefs are for priests! They deal with that. Other areas of ideology are for philosophers. We deal with admissible evidence. A courtroom is the most unfair arena in the world. Why? Because in a courtroom if you had proper justice everything could be thrown in, but it’s not. Most evidences – in all cases – are excluded. Applications to exclude this, exclude that. So, it can’t be fair. It is a fact finding mission. The jury are asked an opinion – they are not asked to deliver the truth. It is not necessarily the truth.
Would you lose any sleep if you knowingly managed to get a guilty person set free?
I’ve never missed a day’s sleep in my life. But it depends who you are sleeping with! Because you never sleep unless you sleep with the person you shouldn’t be sleeping with (laughs). I’m not God. Only God knows if someone is innocent or guilty. Let me put it this way to you, if my hunch tells me a guy is innocent and he’s convicted, I’m bloody sad. I’m really upset. When they killed – not so much Saddam Hussein but Barzan al-Tikriti, and Taha Yassin Ramadan – I was very upset. I rarely have emotion, but I had to embrace them on their last moments – and it’s very fucking upsetting. But, you know, tomorrow’s another day.
But you have represented some evil people, such as Shipman.
I almost become like a mass murderer myself – how dare I defend Shipman!
I once read you would represent Hitler…
There was no admissible (evidence) there. This is not offensive to the Jewish community – because they seem to be playing upon this Holocaust business – but if you believe in the Bible, when there was a choice between Barabbas and Jesus, the Jews said, “We choose Barabbas. And let it be on our side for seven generations. Let us have the blame if we’ve got the wrong guy.” There’s your consequence. Seven generations is like forever. They brought bad luck on themselves by choosing the wrong guy. They denied their own Christ. The Germans were very precise about recording everything – that in itself shows they didn’t think they were committing a criminal offence. I would have dealt with the Nuremberg Trials differently. There was never a single document from anyone, anywhere, referring to a ‘final solution’ by Adolf Hitler. Not a single memorandum. Now, did he know? Maybe. Is there a presumption in law that he knew? Maybe. Is there admissible evidence that he knew? Zero. Plenty of evidence that Hess knew. If the law was implied and not interpreted, he would have to be acquitted – depending, of course, on the wording of the charge.
You are described as the Devil’s Advocate. Do you relish this nickname?
Let me just deal with Satan, OK? If you follow his biblical story, he was a good angel. He was the second-in-command after God. He followed every single thing that God said – that’s the evidence. All of a sudden, God wakes up and creates Gabriel and Michael. He then has Michael on his right hand and Gabriel on his left. And poor old Satan, who had done all the donkey work before, was left holding the turkey. So, Satan says, “Bollocks to this. What have I done God? What have I done that has put me out of favour?” And God says, “Nothing. I just decided that I want to use Gabriel.” For no reason he’s been put aside. What a great litigation. That’s what most of the cases in the civil courts are about – about discrimination. But we’ve never been allowed to hear Satan’s side because the Catholic Church has painted him as evil. Maybe we’d still convict him, but can we please hear what Satan has to say? If you look at it in that respect, you already start to like Satan. I can make it that you feel so sorry for him then, of course, (you think) why the hell didn’t he kill God? He’d properly get away with it – with good psychological evidence, a few doctors, they’d start to say, “Maybe he wasn’t such a bad chap. Maybe he did have a case.”
Which case have you taken the most satisfaction from?
At the moment, Chemical Ali because I’ve saved his life through trickery, legal skulduggery… (pauses) by throwing everything but the sink in there, we have saved this man’s life. And two others as well. Is that right? Is it not right? I don’t know if any of these people are guilty of the allegations, I just know that Saddam Hussein did not receive a fair trial. The system could have provided a fair trial and they would have achieved the same result. Milosevic did actually get a fair trial. He died before a verdict, but he was receiving a fair trial. By and large, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is like 90 percent fair. Irish courts are 10 percent fair. That’s the difference.
Why do you say that about Ireland?
On any appeal in Ireland, three out of four fail. There is a reason for that. It’s simple: if they truly apply the law instead of interpreting the law, then what you’re saying to society is that the trial judge got it so bloody wrong, the jury have got it so wrong, so what’s the point of having it? So, they have to protect the integrity of the court system. We are aware of that. That’s why you are left with your mouth open when you have cases – like John Gilligan’s case for one. He should have definitely had his sentence reduced – without a doubt. But if you do, then what are the consequences of that? Does that mean the Special Criminal Court got it so wrong three times? Are they all completely bloody stupid? The answer is yes. That’s the reason why the Supreme Court is heavily in favour of the prosecution because the prosecution represents ‘society’. It is not independent. It represents the thoughts and the morals and the applications of society. Bit I think that’s wrong. You simply have to accept that it is better for 100 hundred guilty men go free rather than one innocent man being in jail. I’ve always been of that opinion.
Does it make legal sense that Gilligan got 28 years, which was reduced to 20 years, for possession of 20,000 kilograms of cannabis? Has anybody in the EU ever received such a lengthy sentence for a similar crime?
Never heard of it. It is absolute bullshit. He may be the biggest scallywag in Ireland, but he has to be treated fairly. When you have another person charged with a similar crime they can decide, “We can treat him unfairly because we’ve got the Gilligan sentence.” This is where the trouble lies. It escalates and you have a domino effect. The jurisprudence in Ireland, in my view, shouldn’t permit that.
What do you make of John Gilligan?
He’s a bloody good man. He may be a lot of things but he is not a liar. I rate John Gilligan. He is, unfortunately, the cause of most of the problems that Ireland have – not, he has caused it, his name has caused it. The film Vernoica Guerin. I think the system made her a martyr, which she never wanted to be. Let’s not paint a picture of Veronica Guerin as this perfect angel.
The theory was that Gilligan assaulted her when she approached him for an interview and…
Where’s the evidence? There’s no evidence of that.
And then he tried to persuade her not to press charges, but she refused, so he had her whacked. That’s the story that’s out there.
I know but, you see, the problem is that the forensic evidence couldn’t link Gilligan with the assault. And what the Gardai’s forensic expert said was that the marks, and the tear on her blouse, were consistent with her tearing it – not a third party. And on that day she said it happened, there was a birthday party of one of the kids there. So there is film and there is photographs. She did actually call there. There are photographs of that. No one assaulted her. I think another thing people have forgotten – and it should be brought out – she never wrote an article about John Gilligan. She was writing about (John) Traynor. You won’t find a single article about John Gilligan. He was not a target. Why would he kill her if she wasn’t writing anything about him?
Is this what John Gilligan has said?
Of course. He says it’s bollocks. The one guy who was found guilty, it was then quashed on appeal. Gilligan had a massive trial and was found not guilty. No-one else has been charged. Brian Meehan must have acted alone. Now, anyone who knows Brian (pauses)… you gotta be crazy. He doesn’t have it in him. But the law says this man killed her and acted alone because you must accept the law – that Gilligan didn’t do it, the other guy got off on appeal, so he didn’t do it; no one else participated, so therefore you’re left with poor Brian Meehan who is stuffed. He did everything alone – planned, premeditated, did everything by himself. But that boy didn’t kill her.
You say poor Brian Meehan, but he is portrayed in the tabloids as a vicious thug?
I mean, we are all vicious. If I find my wife in bed with someone else, you see how vicious I’m going to get. And I’m only a little guy.
Why do you think she was killed?
I have to be very careful how I word this. Veronica Guerin was writing about John Traynor. He ran brothels, as we know. So what I now want to know is this: is it true – as I believe it is – that Traynor had pictures of a very senior Irish politician with, shall we say, ladies of a dubious character. If so, who was that politician? Did the politician know Veronica Guerin? How well did he know her? And bearing all of that in mind, since he has to be the No.1 suspect in the case, why has there never been an application by the Gardai for the extradition of John Traynor from Spain? Everyone knows that he is living there. In fact I believe that he was in Ireland the other month. Why was he not arrested and questioned? I know John Traynor and, without doubt, and I am choosing my words very carefully here – he is the No.1 suspect. But he is apparently going back and forward between Ireland and Spain with impunity. Maybe someone should explain that, because it beggars belief that he is not being pursued by the Gardai. I want to know why? It’s a simple question, so I will ask it again: why has John Traynor not been extradited and questioned in relation to the murder of Veronica Guerin? I’ll tell you what I think the answer is: that John Traynor is holding an ace. But I cannot say any more than that.
What are your future plans in relation to the Gilligan case?
We will go back to the Supreme Court. I’m going to pressurise them to re-hear that.
Why do you think there has been a dramatic increase of murders in Ireland?
When you have a society that is founded on easy money and easy street, which is what has happened in Ireland – by allowing foreigners to come in and to do the jobs the Irish did – you create a vacuum. You then create a class of person who actually thinks they are more than what they actually are; instead of rolling their sleeves up and getting on with some fucking work. That’s what’s happened in Ireland – a great country fucked up because of its immigration problems. The killings on the streets is what concerns me. Obviously, I represented Martin Hyland and John Daly.
How could a small-time gangster like John Daly afford to hire you. He was nobody until he made that phone call.
That’s not true. He was somebody but not in the high pecking order. He was still a player. His sister was with Martin Hyland. They had a baby, so that’s the connection. We had a difference of opinion with John Daly. He was a young boy, 27. He shouted his mouth off, especially when he had a drink. My son does that. They all do the same. My boy has been beaten up in a pub – maybe he said something he shouldn’t have done. You’ve got to be very careful in with you say these days.
You have also represented members of the IRA.
I think I was the only one who was able to get different factions of the IRA in one room at Portlaoise Prison. I openly said to them, “I don’t know what your game is – all of you here – but if you are unable within an ambit of the IRA, which is actually the founding fathers (of the Republic), to agree within yourselves who the fuck is going to vote for you? Because that is what you want. What is your aim? Is the aim of the Irish Republican Army to throw the British out? They’re out. You want a unified Ireland – you got it since you entered Europe! Do you need a passport to go to Belfast? No! Then what the fuck is the problem? Where’s your problem? If you tell me you want to control crime, drugs, that’s a different story.” But it shouldn’t be done under a political ambit. That’s just my opinion. I speak openly with the mafia, with all the organised crime, the Islamic jihad, Hamas, with the PLO, with Hezbollah... I mean, I’m accustomed to dealing with, and I have the greatest respect for, people who have political ideology that want to change, but I do not believe you should change via the bullet.
Where do the IRA volunteers who are still in prison stand now?
The latest report from the International Monitoring Commission, which is due to be published, will give another clean bill of health to the Provisional movement, including the IRA. The IMC confirms its firm view that the Provisional IRA is committed to the political path and there are no grounds for any suggestion that it will be diverted from it. It also states that the IRA is not involved in terrorist activity. On that basis, my advice to those that are currently in jail at Portlaoise Prison, on offences of membership of an unlawful organisation, will be to apply to the Courts under the Offences Against the State Act 1939 to remove the IRA and other organisations from the list of unlawful organisations. The Irish Government cannot in reality, and legally, refuse because in doing so would be in sharp contrast and conflict with the IMC findings! Those in jail on such offences must be released and forthwith as they are de facto if not de jure unlawfully held.
How did you end up representing so many Irish criminals?
Paddy Holland contacted me. I would describe him – and I want you to quote this – as part of my family. He is not just a client, he is my friend and he is part of my family. My dog loves him. My son loves him. My wife loves him. He is very much loved by the community here in Rome. He’s in prison in Wandsworth – everything will be OK. He was stitched up basically by the Irish... I mean, there was no kidnapping at all. It was bollocks. Pure, unadulterated rubbish. On hours and hours of surveillance, he is mentioned three times.
You also represented the Dundon family from Limerick.
I have, yes. They lost their appeal. Wayne Dundon was sent to prison for ten years for allegedly saying to someone, “Fuck off! You’re dead!” How stupid. It’s ridiculous.
You are representing Ian Strachan – who along with an Irishman, Sean McGuigan – has allegedly blackmailed a minor royal family member.
He’s blackmailed nothing! Blackmail is an offence under the Theft Act 1968, Section 21. The prerequisite for that is there has to be menaces – “If you don’t do pay me money, I’m going to do this to you.” It is nothing like that at all. I mean, that’s all I can say. This boy is not guilty of blackmail. Not procedurally guilty. Not legally guilty. And not actually, factually guilty. One of those rare cases where all three combine.
You have just founded a political party called The Radical Party of Great Britain and Ireland. What are your plans?
I’m going to run in Ireland in the European elections. You better believe it. I’m perfectly entitled in the European election to run in any EU state. You don’t need to be resident or Irish. I will take my seat in Ireland because a lot of people will follow me. We are not a right wing party. We may be radical in name but not in nature. One of the things we’ll have to deal with, as a matter of urgency, is immigration. That is the key thing because otherwise you are going to dilute Irish blood to such an extent that you’ll almost wish that Cromwell hadn’t got ill!
So what will your party’s manifesto be on immigration?
First of all, immigration can only be permitted once you have satisfied the national quota (pauses)… otherwise, why have the name Ireland? Why have a name? You have to restore Ireland to the Irish. I’m not Irish but I’m a Catholic, so if it takes a foreigner to restore Ireland to the Irish, so be it. We’re having a problem there with crime, with boredom, with drugs. Why? Because people have taken their eye off the ball. They haven’t been able to resolve the problem that’s been caused by an influx of immigration. People have come into the country, taken the jobs off the Irish people, allowing the Irish people to sit down on their backsides and do nothing. They’ve become bored and when people become bored they cause trouble. That’s got to be dealt with.
People might consider such comments as racist or fascist.
I’m not a fascist but if that’s the fascist view than I’d rather be a fascist than a faggot! I’m sorry if it offends people. I’m not a racist – it has nothing to do with black, white, yellow, pink or orange. You fought 600 fucking years to get an identity and within the last 10 years you are losing it. It’s madness. For example, I’m not sure that I would allow anybody who is not a member of the European Union to buy property in Ireland. You try going to Nigeria and buying property there, if you’re not a Nigerian citizen. Go to Vietnam – it’s in their fucking constitution – you can’t buy property unless you are a Vietnamese citizen. We’ve been able to successfully deal with this in Italy. We’ve got 60 million people, so we can afford 1 million, 2 million, 3 million immigrants. You can’t. The trouble is that you’ve got almost a quarter of your population that is not Irish.
Which constituency will you run in?
I haven’t decided yet. I’ll just pick whichever one has the highest prison population – they’ll vote for me! We are not an anti-immigration party, we are a party that wants to maintain the national integrity and the national identity. The politicians in Ireland should watch out – because I’m going to get elected. I will not be passive, nor will I stand by, nor will I keep my big mouth shut when there is something to be said. I carry an awful lot of sway around the world in what I say.
Arkan was a very close friend and business partner of yours…
Oh, a great man. He would have been president of Serbia today if he’d lived. And they knew that – that’s why he had to die. He was pro-America, not pro-Russia. He was pro-NATO. He told me a great story: “I had two uncles. One living in Chicago and one living in Moscow. Every Christmas we’d get parcels and parcels of food from my uncle in Chicago and from Moscow we’d have telegrams asking for money.” (Laughs). I miss him terribly. We didn’t always get on. I was a general in the Serbian Guards of Volunteers. I still hold my military rank. There’d be no Kosovo problem if I hadn’t turned up, just like there’d be no Irish problem if Cromwell had been well at the time. There would have been a bloodbath – potentially. The Serbian Guard of Volunteers were already in Kosovo and I convinced him to pull them back. And he pulled 2,000 men back. I said to him, “Zeljko, listen, for my purposes, I don’t give a fuck, but who’s going to pay these men?” He didn’t think about that. During the Yugoslav wars the government did pay for the Serbian Guard of Volunteers, so there was no problem, but in that situation when you’ve got 2,000 times by 1,000 German Marks a month, I said, “Don’t look to me. Have you got money to pay them that? Have the government said they’d pay you? No. Fuck ‘em, pull them back.” That’s why they where pulled back.
But he was responsible for ethnic cleansing, was he not?
He died an innocent man - there is no proof of the allegations. Remember the indictment against Arkan was “sealed”, which meant that no one knew what actually were the allegations. Of course he refused to surrender as he would be surrendering to the unknown. The indictment was unsealed and made public only a month after Arkan was dead – disgraceful when he was in no position to defend himself! And yes I complained bitterly to Louise Arbour over it but it was academic. He was dead.
Did Arkan plan to wipe out all the Muslims in Yugoslavia?
No. Bollocks. There were 5 million of the cunts. Even Cromwell couldn’t have done it.
Where you ever in any battles?
I’m not going to answer that.
Have you ever been threatened?
All the time. I’m not scared of dying. I’m scared of the mode of death. In Iraq, the Americans have killed a guy who was going to capture me and drill my head, drill my kneecaps, and then shoot me in the back, to put me off. My colleague lawyer was murdered in that fashion. I’m more worried about the people who don’t threaten me.
Have you ever had a gun to your head?
Yeah, in 1999 in Belgrade. You won’t believe this, but it was in my and Arkan’s football club. They – the three boys came in – didn’t know who I was. I speak English and they (the allies) were bombing Belgrade, so they didn’t take too kind to people who spoke English. And I had a gun pointed at me there. So I grabbed the gun – it was a Magnum. I took out five bullets, put one in and I went like that (he makes the shape of a gun with his hand and points at his forehead and makes the sound of a gun clicking). I went, “You fucking cunts! Even I can’t kill myself!” Zeljko was seeing this from the CCTV in the office. Then Zeljko came in and there was very, very nasty consequences for those people.
So was Arkan a violent man?
No, he was a very fair man. If you kept your contract with him you were OK. The problem was if you tried to fuck him, there’d be a problem.
Did you get very upset when Arkan died?
Fucking hell, to put it mildly, yeah. I did tell him to treble his guard because there was already indications that the British and Americans were after him.
Not many people outside Serbia would have shed a tear for him.
I don’t think I’ve ever shed a tear for anybody. Maybe I’ve got all that to come. Maybe I’ll cry at my own funeral (laughs). My world is a world of murder, blood, drugs, armed robbery, genocide. I’ve attended more than 2,000 post mortems. How can you cry? When do you stop if you start? So, you just bottle it. I don’t think I even cried at my father’s funeral – and he died the same day as Saddam. I’d gone to the district court of Colombia to stop the execution – which we did stop for 14 hours. I was told that my father died at 2.20pm and Saddam was killed 14 hours later. I had a choice: I couldn’t do anything for my dad – there’s nothing I can do, he’s dead. I had to fend off the media. My father brought me up to think you shed a tear for the living, not the dead. If you want to cry for someone, cry when they’re alive and show them that you care, not when they’re dead. I know that he was very proud of me. I stood with the living and I kept Saddam alive for an extra 14 hours. It didn’t do any bloody good, but 14 hours is better than 14 hours less.
Do you have fond memories of Saddam?
I met him three times. It is not as if we went whoring! Or drinking. He was the president of the country. Saddam was my client. Saddam was a nice guy. I’ve known him since 1998. You see, Yugoslavia and Iraq were both under sanctions. We formed a sort of club, “Under Sanctions”. Burma – I also act for General Thura Shwe. Do you remember that idiot who went into Burma (and) they kept him in prison? I sent a telegram to General Thura Shwe to release him and, like that, they did.
You were a director of Dundee FC for a short while. What went wrong?
(Groans). It was like marrying a virgin and then finding out, after you’d married, that she’d eight children. The problem there was that the people had lied to me. They’d told me that there was just a few million – £3 /£4 millions of debts – but the actual reality was when I became director I found out there was more than £20 million debts. The taxman was the first person to call me. From day one, it was very much like a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest.
But that experience didn’t deter you from offering €1million for Shelbourne FC.
Yeah, they should have taken it. Look what’s happened now. Ollie’s (Byrne) died, God rest his soul. Nice man. And again, that was the media… I’m still keen on Shelbourne. Drogheda are going to be crowned champions today, aren’t they? How they fuck do you have a championship that finishes in November? [er... the season runs through summer – soccer editor] That’s what I’d like to know.
How do you deal with stress?
We live in a stressful society. I don’t take drugs; I don’t smoke; I don’t get drunk, and I don’t gamble, which just leaves one other vice.
I just have one wife. I don’t have mistresses.
Given your wealth and the circles you move in, you must get a lot of attention from women...
If I thought at any one time that any young girl between 22 and 30 really fancied me because I was Giovanni Di Stefano, who knows? We may be tempted. But because I know there is an ulterior motive – it’s because I’m rich, I’m relatively famous, or infamous, depending on how you want to look at it – you have a tendency not to proceed. It is an insult to my integrity. To be quite honest with you, I like my work. I have five children and a dog and I have my clients. I have to be very careful who I mix with. I don’t have people come to the house; I don’t go out to dinner with people. I’m involved in some of the major trials around the world – especially Iraq – where I am a target. If you look on YouTube at some of the films of how the Americans protect me, I mean, I’m more protected than a Prime Minister there because I brought credibility to a process that is unlawful and illegitimate.
You are a man of many talents. You have written hit singles and are now involved in looking after the singer JustCarmen.
I produce/manage JustCarmen. I own her lock, stock and barrel. She’s been to Ireland – she’s recorded with the Bachelors. The reason why I became a lawyer is that when I was fifteen, I wrote a big hit song in Italy. I sold it for £100, thinking it would be nothing, and it became a big hit. They think the copyright was stolen, so I thought, “Fuck it! We need to be a lawyer here.”
I see Jonathan King appears on the new CD. He’s another celebrity you represented.
Jonathan King did not commit the offence (he was convicted of) and I’ll tell you why: on the dates they said that he allegedly buggered someone, he was in New York. We found the evidence – American Express. Well, they say, “We might have got the wrong date.” Well, fuck me, why don’t you say so? Why don’t you get it right on the indictment? We are still ongoing CCRC on that. I’m not going to let that go. I’m not saying that he’s not a homosexual, but you accuse him that on September 4 that he did this, but he was in America. So unless he has a 5,000 mile prick he couldn’t have done it.
But he was charged and convicted of six offences against 14 and 15 year old boys committed between 1983 and 1989.
King was cleared of the main case. He was cleared on 16 charges and convicted on four charges. As far as I’m concerned, he was an innocent man. He got a ridiculously lengthy sentence.
I was looking at your Wikipedia page…
It’s all bollix. If you look at ‘history’ (section of his Wikipedia page), Jimmy Wales, who is the owner of Wikipedia, has said, “Don’t change this.” People are changing it – putting in rubbish about me and I said, “If you don’t fucking change it, I’m going to sue you all.” For the owner of Wikipedia to intervene, what does that tell you?
What about the alleged fraud convections?
Bollix. I mean, that was quashed. Here is my certificate that I have no convictions (He shows me some documentation – JOT.) There you have my certificate from the International Bar. And more important is this one here, from the New York State Bar.
What about the part stating you where deported from the US back in 1992?
It’s bollix. The fucking Americans protect me.
And, according to this Wikipedia file, you are banned from entering New Zealand.
Who the fuck wants to go there? I’ve been there. Rubbish. There was an article in the Daily Record that I murdered 25,000 people in Srebernica (Kosovo). That I was guilty of that. No problem! Because if you want to believe that and I’m still practising in the courts, then I really must be good! That’s why I don’t bother suing a lot. People want me to sue because it wastes my time; I’m then occupied with that and not concentrating on the case. I don’t fall for that shit.
What about the part about you making a fortune from importing videotapes into the UK from Hong Kong?
That’s true. What they do is: they have a tendency to mix some truths and some lies. I imported blank VHS videotapes from Hong Kong into the UK. In 1978, they used to go for £14 for £18, but I bought them from Hong Kong for a fiver and sold them for £7. My first contract was with Dixons. What I then did, which brought me to some controversy, was I sold blue films – but wait, blue tapes; I’d changed the colour of the tape from black to blue. That’s all. So those sold for £8. This is why Sullivan and Desmond had their porn on my blue tapes. They bought blanks from me. Under the trade description act, they could quite properly say, “We sell blue tapes.” Just apply the mind.
As artistic director of the Gate for 33 years, Michael Colgan was one of the most powerful and influential people in the world of Irish theatre. Having departed the post recently, he reflects on his extraordinary career, his youthful rivalry with Paul McGuinness, the pain he experienced over his ex-wife’s death, getting to know Samuel Beckett, and relaunching Harold Pinter.Read More
Though unknown in his homeland, Irish writer Ian Gibson is celebrated in his adopted Spain, particularly for his books about the poet Lorca – widely known for being Leonard Cohen’s chief literary inspiration – and Salvador Dali. In a fascinating interview, Gibson discusses falling foul of the Franco regime, Dali’s wild hedonistic excesses, his role in getting corporal punishment banned in the UK, his interest in sadomasochism, Irish attitudes to sex – and why he both loves and despairs of Spain.Read More
Having rowed solo across the Atlantic in under 50 days, Gavan Hennigan is one of Ireland’s most remarkable athletes. But that’s just the start of his extraordinary life story – which encompasses a strained relationship with his troubled father, addiction and recovery, working at one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, traversing the globe in numerous adventure challenges, and coming to terms with his sexuality.Read More
In 2011, Jason O’Toole carried out an interview with Martin McGuinness that was never published. Here, we draw on that interview, as well others conducted for Hot Press, to paint a fascinating picture of the late leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, in all of his complications.Read More
Featured in the new issue of Hot Press, Gavan gives a revelatory new interview with Senior Editor Jason O'Toole.Read More
Our man Jason O'Toole had to hum 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' before he was let into the Deputy First Minister's office!Read More
Our man Jason O'Toole had to hum 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' before he was let into the Deputy First Minister's office!Read More
Our man Jason O'Toole had to hum 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' before he was let into the Deputy First Minister's office!Read More
Based in Wicklow for nearly 50 years, legendary film director John Boorman is celebrated for classics like Point Blank and Deliverance. In a fascinating interview, he reflects on the making of those movies, his experiences in Hollywood, the changing face of Ireland, coping with personal trauma, mortality – and his recently published debut novel, Crime Of Passion.Read More
Fidel Castro has passed away, and relations between Cuba and the United States have thawed somewhat. But it would be wrong to expect things in Havana to change overnight – not least because the spirit of the revolution remains strong and resolute. That is the clear message from the Cuban ambassador to Ireland, Hermes Herrera Hernández – a man who knew both Fidel himself and Che Guevara, and who insists that “many people in the world, if they knew exactly what is happening, would like to have the same level of human rights that we do in Cuba.”Read More
John Boyne had already penned a clutch of novels when he wrote his first book for young adults. Published in 2006, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas went on to become a literary phenomenon, selling seven million copies. But behind that remarkable success lies a very different kind of life story. Now, with the publication of his latest novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, the best-selling writer feels that he can talk honestly and openly about his past: about growing up in Ireland, his sexuality, the break-down of his civil partnership, depression, drinking and a lot more besides.Read More
With no background in politics, and a paltry five weeks to canvass, he was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 as an Independent. Since then, he co-founded and then left the Social Democratic Party. Throughout all of this, he has retained a boyish enthusiasm and a sense of humour – which is unusual in Irish politics. So what lies behind the cheerful demeanour and liberal attitudes of the TD for Wicklow? Well, he’s a long-time fan of Hot Press for a start…Read More
Dexys Midnight Runners’ hit single may not have been written about him, but there’s lots of reasons right now to chant the name of the People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny. Chief among them is the fact that he has got a Bill legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes through its first stage in the Dáil – an extraordinary achievement for a man who only became a TD in February 2016.Read More
U2 fans will get the chance to party away in the company of a great tribute band at a special two night event being organised at The Church Bar venue in Dublin on the weekend of the historic Croke Park gig to celebrate the seminal classic album 'The Joshua Tree' in July, it has just been announced.Read More
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly tell us what Leonard meant to him during his Long Kesh incarceration...Read More
Christy Dignam bravely opened up in an extensive interview with Jason O'Toole back in October.Read More
Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae sat down with Jason O'Toole back in September for an extraordinary interview on his religious and political views.Read More
Just ahead of the US Presidential elections, Jason O'Toole caught up with the former Miss Universe Ireland, who went to the States to take part in the Trump-led international beauty competition, to talk about modelling, politics and cuisine.Read More
Amnesty International is not banned from any primary schools in the Waterford district – despite a letter being circulated that appears to claim otherwise, the Catholic Church diocese of Waterford and Lismore has insisted today.Read More
An Irish company’s cheerful little product is receiving some major international exposure thanks to Kourney Kardashian.Read More
The O’Donovan brothers’ humorous comments about their brilliant silver medal achievement at the Rio Games has been voted as the most memorable Irish sporting moment of 2016.Read More
President-elect Donald Trump took to twitter yesterday to attack Vanity Fair’s editor after the magazine gave one of his restaurants a negative review in their latest edition to just hit the newsstands.Read More
Paul McCartney’s critically acclaimed 1989 album ‘Flowers in the Dirt’ is to be reissued next March, it has been confirmed.Read More
A video has just been uploaded onto YouTube of The Boss getting a packed Carnegie Hall into the festive mood with some Christmas tunes at Sting’s biennial Rainforest Fund benefit gig.Read More
Lady Gaga’s fans will no doubt have a million reasons to be excited to learn that the latest music video from her new album ‘Joanne’ has just been uploaded on YouTube.Read More
Some of the most influential figures in the music industry are urging President-elect Donald Trump to radically shake-up laws concerning intellectual property rights.Read More
Outgoing US President Barack Obama has said that he will not be afraid to air his views when Donald Trump is in the White House.Read More
Virgin Media’s Irish customers can now watch all their favourite Netflix shows seamlessly on their TV using their Netflix subscription on Virgin Media’s Horizon TV service.Read More
Ten websites that are believed to best record “Irish life in 2016 and remember the events of 1916” as chosen in a public vote have been revealed by the National Library of Ireland.Read More
Arcade Fire’s powerful live performance of ‘Reflecktor’ in London back in 2014 has just been uploaded on the Internet as a preview of the band’s new two-disc DVD/Blu Ray concert and documentary, which will be released on 27 January.Read More
Ex-Take That star Robbie Williams has reached out to One Direction singer Zayn Malik, urging him to be strong in the aftermath of his debilitating anxiety that forced him to cancel some upcoming shows.Read More
The original Netflix series The OA, which is from visionaries Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (Sound of My Voice, The East), will air on the online streaming service from 16 December.Read More
Elton John has teamed up with YouTube to give you the opportunity to create a brand new pop video for one of his seminal classic tracks.Read More
Music icon Bob Dylan said it was a great honour to receive “such a prestigious prize” – but confessed that he always thought he’d just about the same chance of going to the moon as he did of being the first singer-songwriter to be deemed a worthy enough winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.Read More
He’s best known for tearing musicians apart with his outspoken criticism on The X-Factor, but Simon Cowell had nothing but praise for Louis Tomlinson after the 1D superstar found the inner strength to go on with the show and perform his new single just days after his mother lost her battle with leukaemia.Read More
Tina Fey has opened up about how she believes that Donald Trump’s negative presidential campaign and his shock victory has alarmingly fueled an increased level of misogyny in the US.Read More
It’s 18 years since we last hard new material by the Scottish band, but The Jesus and Mary Chain has just confirmed that they will be releasing a new studio album early next year.Read More
Fourteen “enterprising teens”, ranging in age from 12 to 17, had an audience with the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen when he visited their school in Wicklow yesterday to launch a new teacher resources package to help support the next generation of entrepreneurs.Read More
As most of the world stayed up late watching the dramatic US presidential election count unfold, the First Lady Michelle Obama has now revealed that she was tucked up in her White House bed fast asleep!Read More
Best-selling author Stephen King has dismissed any criticism of Bob Dylan becoming the first singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature as nothing more than “just plain old sour grapes”.Read More
Fiona Apple has put an anti-Donald Trump spin on a cover version of a classic Christmas song!Read More
Ryan Adams has opened up about having to force himself to "keep my chin up" while recording his new album because his marriage was coming to an end at the same time.Read More
Lady Gaga has courageously spoken on US national television about how she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since enduring the horrible ordeal of being raped as a teenager.Read More
Composer Patrick Cassidy and actor Patrick Bergin are teaming up to perform a concert at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin in aid of The Friends of St. Luke’s Cancer Care on 14 December from 8pm – 9:30pm.Read More
Internationally acclaimed soprano Celine Byrne – who was recently asked to perform for Pope Francis – will end the year on a high note with a Christmas Gala at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin on 18 December.Read More
The annual summer literature festival in Kells, County Meath will rebranded as the ‘Hinterland Festival’ in 2017, it has just been announced.Read More
It’s not set for a US cinema release until next May, but a brand new teaser trailer for Marvel’s eagerly awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has just been put up on YouTube.Read More
“Do not deceive yourselves: Trump is no ordinary conservative Republican. He is the closest thing to Hitler Americans have ever seen.” That’s the stark warning from an Associate Professor of US History at Trinity College Dublin.Read More
Madonna has spoken about her anger and dismay over President-elect Donald Trump’s shock defeat of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House.Read More
It’s hard to believe that it’s exactly 20 years since Will Smith’s hit TV show came to an end, but Netflix is now bringing all six seasons of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ to the streaming service on New Year’s Eve for its Irish members.Read More
Actor Andrew Sachs has died at the age of 86 following a four year battle with dementia, it was confirmed late last night.Read More
Drake was the most popular musician played on Spotify for the second year running in 2016 with an astronomical 4.7 billion streams on the music service.Read More
It looks like selfie sticks – along with more than a dozen other “undesirable items” – could be banned when Chris Martin and Co takes to the stage in Croke Park next summer, as part of their world tour.Read More
FANS of the popular US sitcom Friends will certainly be disheartened to hear that Jennifer Aniston feels a reunion movie or TV show will never happen.Read More
Bernie Sanders has confessed that he's left wondering "what if" if it was him instead of Hillary Clinton who ran against Donald Trump.Read More
It’s hard to believe that Neil Diamond is celebrating his 50th anniversary since he became a household name with his first major hit single with ‘Solidarity Man’ all the way back in 1966.Read More
It appears that the door is now finally being opened to making cannabis legal for medicinal purposes in Ireland.Read More
Star Wars fanatics are in for a treat.Twitter has teamed up with Disney and People magazine to live steam an exclusive special ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' event with a behind-the-scenes sneak peek from the hugely anticipated new movie on Friday.Read More
Nirvana, R.E.M., Elvis, Rod Stewart, along with David Bowie and Prince - who both sadly passed away this year - are among 25 artists going to have one their songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, it has been announced.Read More
The critically acclaimed musical ‘The Train’, which is inspired by a remarkable true story involving a former Hot Press writer and has a score composed by Bill Whelan of Riverdance fame, is to be staged at The Abbey next spring.Read More
The rumour mill has gone into overdrive with recent speculation that the First Lady Michelle Obama was planning to run for the presidency in the future. But outgoing US President Barack Obama has now debunked the notion of his wife making history by becoming the first woman elected to the White HouseRead More
Ex-Take That star Robbie Williams has bravely admitted that he started taking anti-depressants this year after a “weird summer”.Read More
Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has revealed that she still loves her ex-husband’s music – even if she feels he has personally insulted her in some of his lyrics.Read More
The US's First Lady-elect is threatening YouTube with a major lawsuit over a video on its site that claims her son Barron is autistic.Read More
Lady Gaga wore her heart on her sleeve on Sunday in an interview on US TV in which she touched on the subject of love following her break-up with actor Taylor Kinney after being together for five years.Read More
There will be a vigil to mark the death of Fidel Castro in Dublin this evening (Monday, 28, November) at 6.30pm at The Spire on O'Connell Street, according to a tweet put out yesterday by Sinn Féin's newspaper, An Phoblacht.Read More
RTÉ has announced a new partnership with the RTÉ Choice Music Prize for next year's event, which will see both RTÉ2 and RTÉ 2FM play a lead role in supporting what has become one of the highlights of the Irish musical calendar as part of a new agreement.Read More
Hothouse Flowers are riding high in the iTunes charts with one of their old hit singles – and it’s all thanks to Jeremy Clarkson and Co’s new Amazon online streaming show, ‘The Grand Tour.’Read More
Irish superstar Niall Horan might be focusing on his solo career right now, but he’s confident One Direction will reform in the future. “We’ll be back,” the Mullingar native vowed yesterday, which the band’s fans will surely be thrilled to hear.Read More
President Michael D. Higgins leads the Irish tributes this morning to the breaking news of the death of former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.Read More
Gilmore Girls makes its much-anticipated return today on Netflix with four memorable chapters from the lives of Lorelai, Emily, Rory... and many more stalwarts from the fictional small town of Stars Hollow.Read More
Popular radio DJ Nikki Hayes has bravely revealed that she gave up alcohol last year because of its negative side effects of being mixed with medication to deal with a mental health condition.Read More
To help celebrate Thanksgiving, Aretha Franklin was invited to sing the American national anthem before yesterday’s big football game between Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings at the Ford Field stadium.Read More
It’ll probably come as no surprise to hear that the teenager filmed being hit by the Canadian popstar prior to one of his gigs on Tuesday is now planning to take legal action.Read More
Media reports that Elton John is set to perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s Inauguration ceremony are “not true,” according to a spokesperson for the British star.Read More
Vladimir Putin’s top media advisor in the Kremlin has used disgusting racial slurs to attack US President Barack Obama on the state-owned national television.Read More
The French composer’s new single Oxygène Pt. 17 has just been stuck up on YouTube without any fanfare, shortly ahead of his much anticipated new album on 2 December.Read More
Justin Bieber lashed out at a fan shortly before going on stage for his “Purpose World Tour” concert in Barcelona last night.Read More
The USA might have had a very different President-elect right now – if it wasn’t for the fact that Donald Trump's grandfather was booted out of Germany, according to a legal decree that was recently discovered.Read More
Ex-Neighbours star Jason Donovan says he would prefer if his teenage children wanted to experiment with drugs that they would do so in the more safe environment of the family home in front of him – describing it as a form of “reverse psychology”.Read More
Phil Collins revealed back in 2015 that he was “no longer retired”... and now true to his word he plans "some comeback shows" next year.Read More
Kanye West was forcibly taken to hospital for his own safety after suffering a "psychotic breakdown", according to US media reports.Read More
Former Sex Pistol Steve Jones has opened up for the first time about being sexually abused by his stepfather in his autobiography.Read More
A three-day auction of Marilyn Monroe’s personal and career items has just fetched a staggering $11million dollars, which is being described as a “another word record” for the LA-based Julien’s Auctions who organised the event.Read More
The Police have been offered a whopping $9million US dollars to reform for a one-off festival in California next year, according to reports.Read More
It’s hard to believe that it’ll be 25 years since Queen’s charismatic frontman was cruelly cut down in his prime this coming Thursday (24 November).Read More
As part of the celebrations for the upcoming 50th anniversary of their debut album, the Grateful Dead have announced plans for a comprehensive reissue of their entire discography.Read More
Outgoing US President Barack Obama has for the first time revealed that he strongly warned President-elect Donald Trump that he should tone down some of his radical political stances during their chat at The White House last week.Read More
The much-anticipated new show by ex-Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is now uploaded for streaming. The first episode of the new show called 'The Grand Tour' – featuring hosts Clarkson, Hammond and May – premieres exclusively on fee-paying Amazon Prime Video today (Friday 18 November).Read More
Defeated US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave her first public speech in which she not only opened up about her pain at her shock defeat, but she also made a rallying cry for young people not to get disillusioned with politics.Read More
Fans of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events look set to be in for a real treat if the exciting new trailer just put up on YouTube for an upcoming series created by the book's author himself is anything to go by.Read More
It’s hard to believe how time flies. Jeff Buckley – who will probably be most fondly remembered for his haunting cover version of the late Leonard Cohen’s elegiac song ‘hallelujah’, which was released posthumously to much acclaim – would’ve been celebrating his 50th birthday today on 17 November … if only he hadn’t been taken away so tragically young at just 30-years-old.Read More
To paraphrase one of The Beatles’ most popular tunes ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, John Lennon definitely felt he had been let him down by his ex-band members - as demonstrated in an angry letter addressed to Sir Paul McCartney and his then wife Linda about the iconic band's split in 1970, which has resurfaced and will be auctioned off.Read More