Wanstead solicitor representing Julian Assange speaks of his surprise at Queen’s honour

He has represented one of today’s most controversial figures, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but for Wanstead solicitor Mark Stephens, this is just a drop in the ocean in his monumental career in law and newspapers.

Mr Stephens, 54, has lived in the area for 34 years, and his three daughters have all been educated in the borough.

He specialises in media law, and has represented clients from Lady Diana Windsor, to TV host Bob Monkhouse, who was charged with defrauding film distributors in relation to a film and television archive.

He took time out to speak to the Recorder shortly after receiving his CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list, outlining the importance of freedom of speech in today’s society, and touched on the topic of super injunctions.

“I am very much against super injunctions,” he said. “I think they are very unhelpful, and for 300 years we have agreed that we want to have open justice.”

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His passion for open justice and fair reporting led him to represent a journalist in a landmark case which won journalists protection against having to testify during war crimes tribunals.

“That was the most important cases I have worked on,” he said. “That was about assuring journalists were put less in danger when they were covering conflict zones.”

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His honour is for services to the legal profession and the arts.

“It was a surprise, even though David Cameron wrote to me in May saying he was minded to put me up for a CBE to the Queen, and he asked me if that would be acceptable to me, I wrote back saying it would be very acceptable, thank you! “But I was not sure if it would be birthday honours or new year honours, and in that respect it was very much a pleasant surprise,” he added.

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