Jenny Afia: the London lawyer defending the Duchess of Sussex

You will remember her vigorous defense of the Duchess of Sussex, if you were one of the thousands of royal fans listening to Amol Rajan’s BBC Two documentary, The Princes and the Press, on Monday evening.

The one-hour episode was the first in the two-part series and explored the relationship between the media and the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, showing tensions between their households and the ups and downs of press interference over the years. were treated.

Part two airs Monday, focusing on the royals’ dramatic three years from 2018 to 2021, and a trailer in this week’s episode suggested plenty of bombshells and bold claims remain.

Front and center of any of those claims? Jenny Afia, a famous lawyer who represented the Duchess of Sussex against the Mail on Sunday in the Supreme Court, is quick to tell Rajan that the allegations that the Duchess was a “difficult or demanding boss” were “simply not true”.

Meghan spoke about parenting and life in the US (Michael Rozman/Warner Bros)

/ PA Media

“This story that no one could work for the Duchess of Sussex, that she was too difficult or demanded a boss, and that everyone had to leave, is simply not true,” she said in a trailer for part two of the documentary. , adding that “the common charge is that the Duchess of Sussex is guilty of bullying” and claiming she was “definitely not”.

The Duchess is said to have allowed Afia to speak with Rajan for the documentary, which has been criticized by the royal family for giving credence to “exaggerated or baseless claims from unnamed sources”. The palaces’ staff have even gone so far as to threaten to boycott the BBC as a result, claiming they refused to fully respond to claims made in the show.

And those are just the claims we’ve seen: If the trailer for Afia’s interview proves anything, the London lawyer clearly has a lot to say on behalf of the Duchess. Here’s everything we know about the woman in the hotseat of this month’s royal documentary.

A working mom with a funny side

Afia has worked for several high-profile celebrities over the years – Adele, Cliff Richard and Elton John are among her most celebrity clients to date. But it was when she started representing the Duchess of Sussex in her High Court battle against the Mail on Sunday that Afia really came into the public eye.

The Cambridge graduate currently works as Head of Legal at the law firm Schillings, which represented Brad Pitt in his divorce from Angelina Jolie. Afia has worked there for the past 15 years and now leads the entertainment practice, having previously trained in the city.

Schillings law firm treated Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

/ AP

According to Schillings’ website, she is an award-winning privacy and reputation attorney representing many of the world’s most successful people. “Jenny is ranked as a Tier 1 leader in her field by Chambers & Partners, the Spear’s Reputation Management index, and recognized in Billboard’s Top Music Lawyers 2021,” reads a description on the site, alongside a headshot of the dark-haired lawyer smiling in a smart purple blazer and gold necklace.

“Jenny was a member of the Children’s Commissioner’s Digital Task Force, as part of which she rewrote the social media platform’s terms and conditions so that children could understand them. She also served on the steering committee of children’s charity 5Rights and co-wrote the report with Baroness Kidron: ‘Disrupted Childhood: the cost of persuasive design’. Jenny is also on the UK advisory board for Common Sense Media.”

Little is revealed about Afia’s personal interests or private life, but a closer look at her LinkedIn suggests she has a funny side. In addition to her legal career listings, she also lists two more surprising positions as headteacher.

“Responsible for the rapid decline of students and hatred for all things education. She’s adept at turning iPads on and off,” she writes as a job description for one of them, a ‘Reluctant Head Teacher’ who posts between January and March of this year at what she calls ‘Afia Ferrer Home School’ – a indication that she has a family, and personality.

Afia’s Twitter also offers insight into her personality. Her picture is a cartoon that depicts her as a sharp, lipstick-wearing professional and her biography simply reads, “I’m a lawyer, not a cat.”

A scroll down her feed reveals other interesting details: she feels passionate about protecting children’s online safety and digital wellbeing; she lives a glamorous lifestyle, appears in Vogue and attends ceremonies including the BRIT Awards; and despite her expertise in privacy, she is not afraid to speak out in public.

She’s appeared on several podcasts about her career, she’s written several pieces for Huffington Post, and this week’s royal documentary is far from her first TV appearance.

In July 2018 she appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire Show when Cliff Richard was awarded £210,000 in damages against the BBC, and in September 2017 she spoke on BBC News about Rebel Wilson’s libel win.

Peloton workouts and a passion for privacy

Afia has not publicly disclosed how many children she has, but an interview with The Times in February provides more details about her marriage and personal life. Asked about the funniest thing that ever happened to her, she describes “sending a legal notice to my (future) husband after our second date. He was a journalist for a tabloid newspaper at the time and was on my wrong side early in our relationship.”

Afia’s Twitter suggests that her husband still works as a journalist: in particular Richard Ferrer, editor of Jewish News UK. “Amazing piece of my favorite eye candy,” Afia wrote, tweeting his article on laser eye surgery in October 2019, and in September 2020 she called him “the only journalist I will never charge”.

Privacy may be his wife’s specialty, but Ferrer isn’t afraid to reveal tidbits about their marriage, plug in his wife’s interviews and call her “wifey” on Twitter.

Other details in Afia’s interview with The Times suggest she’s a fitness fanatic with a girlish side. She lists Peloton Instructor Robin Arzón as one of her biggest career inspirations (“I complete her online training because I want to become a better lawyer and am confident that I can take on the world”) and says she always showed up to help. Read about corporate disputes. Grazia, while colleagues read the Financial Times.

Afia’s love of magazines also offers an idea about the area of ​​law she specialized in: entertainment. Afia told The Times that leaving the city to specialize in privacy for public figures was the best decision she ever made in her career. How would she like to be remembered? “As someone who helped stop arbitrary intrusion into people’s privacy and, through my children, as a wonderful mother.”

Defending a Duchess

Afia acted for the Duchess in the Supreme Court earlier this year. When asked what the main issues in the case were at the time, she said: “whether a newspaper has the right to publish the contents of a self-evident private letter without the author’s prior consent or knowledge.

“The question for summary judgment was whether the Duchess’s case was strong enough to be decided without trial. This was important because trying to protect privacy should not lead to further breaches.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s controversial Oprah interview took place in March this year (Chris Jackson/PA)

/ PA wire

So how did she come to represent the Sussexes and what is her relationship like with them? Clearly positive, if Afia’s recent TV interview paints an accurate picture.

“This story that no one could work for the Duchess of Sussex, that she was too difficult or demanded a boss, and that everyone had to leave, is simply not true,” she said in a trailer for part two of the documentary. .

Jenny Afia appears in The Princes and the Press

/ BBC

When asked by Rajan how accurate the 2018 plague stories about the Duchess were, she looks calm and composed. “Those stories weren’t true,” she tells him bluntly, sitting opposite the broadcaster in a cream blouse and royal blue blazer.

Rajan confirms that Afia spoke with permission from the Duchess – his full interview with her will be broadcast Monday night. The rest of her revelations about the Duchess remains to be seen, but if her past interviews pay off, viewers are in for some forcefully worded statements and maybe some funny moments too. View this space.

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