Giovanni Di Stefano.


This was the Majorca Daily Bulletin headline on February 27, 2013 for an exclusive interview with Giovanni Di Stefano, currently the focus of a series Sky Documentaries is running called The Devil’s Advocate, which details the life and crimes of Di Stefano, who spent a decade pretending he was a lawyer for some of the world’s most infamous criminals.

Di Stefano was initially arrested at his Son Vida home in Mallorca in February 2011 on a European arrest warrant issued by the British authorities and bailed to stand trial in 2013. A few days prior to the trail he gave me an exclusive interview which appeared in the Majorca Daily Bulletin on February 27 before he spoke to any other publication.

Di Stefano is an English businessman and convicted fraudster. He had been involved in numerous legal cases for high-profile notorious defendants worldwide. He had no legal qualifications, was barred from working in law in the UK and was not registered to work as an advocate in the UK or Italy.

He was often referred to as “The Devil’s Advocate” for his advocacy on behalf of such claimed clients as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milošević. He was also a business associate of the Serbian paramilitary leader and indicted war criminal Željko Ražnatović. Other clients (apparently) were Tariq Aziz, Patrick Holland, Jeremy Bamber, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, John Gilligan, Charles Bronson (Britain's most notorious prisoner), Ali Hassan al-Majid (known as Chemical Ali, whose death sentence Di Stefano tried but failed to overturn), Gary Glitter and Ian Brady.

He had been previously convicted four times in Ireland and the United Kingdom of fraud and related criminal offences, serving a total of eight and a half years for convictions between 1975 and the late 1980s. He was described by a judge as “one of life’s great swindlers”.

After his arrest in Mallorca, he was sentenced in the UK in March 2013 to 14 years imprisonment after being found guilty or pleading guilty to 27 charges, including deception, fraud and money laundering between 2001 and 2011. These were related to “tricking people into thinking he was a bona fide legal professional”. He is due for early release in 2023.

However, before he was extradited to the UK to stand trial, he gave the Bulletin an extensive interview as to why he was about to issue an arrest warrant for Tony Blair in Spain. Di Stefano told the Bulletin that he intended to issue a warrant for the arrest of former British prime minister Tony Blair in Spain on charges of crimes against humanity, murder and conspiracy to murder.

Di Stefano was in Madrid, where he was waiting for the green light to return to the UK to face charges of wrongdoing brought by the City of London Police after having accepted to honour the extradition order. In a telephone interview from Madrid, he told the Bulletin that the charges against him were rubbish and were all part of an attempt to silence him and stop him from indicting Tony Blair over war crimes committed during the Iraq War.

“We are having the final of the 100 pages translated into Spanish and, as I have the power of attorney for the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, will be lodging the application for Blair’s arrest in my name. We can apply for his arrest in Spain because of the Tele 5 Spanish cameraman, Jose Couso, who was killed along with the Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk, when a US tank opened fire on the Hotel Palestine in April 2003,” he explained.

“What is more, ten days ago I presented the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, with further evidence against Blair. This time, instead of saying no, Grieve said he will look at the evidence and think about it,” Di Stefano said, suggesting at the time that Blair’s day in court could still come.

On the day before the interview, he in fact announced that he intended to call Tony Blair as a witness when he stood trial in the UK. “I’m obviously going back to London to clear my name. This is not the first time I’ve been arrested. When I was representing Slobodan Milošević, I was held on trumped-up charges for over 500 days. During that time, they rushed my client before The Hague for trial.

“I was simply taken out of the equation and that is what they are trying to do now because of the legal action I am taking against Tony Blair. It’s déjà vu for me. You ever heard of anyone being extradited for having apparently stolen a car? It’s all rubbish. And as a man of principle, I can’t tell my clients like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to return to Sweden and face the music and then do the complete opposite.

“Also, as an international lawyer, I need to travel and can’t afford to have bogus charges hanging around my neck. What is more, I’ve just had a second operation for prostate cancer in Palma so I’m not likely to do a runner. This happens time and time again in Britain to anyone who shows up the system and I’m not having it.

“On my return to the United Kingdom, ultimately there will be a trial and finally, whilst the prosecution will call whatever witnesses they wish to call, I will be calling by subpoena if necessary Mr Tony Blair and finally examine him on oath on his connection with the raising of these charges.”

He went on to claim that he intended to call other politically connected witnesses and a member of the SIS (MI6) and diplomatic staff to ask and enquire of them what role they had played in the raising of the politically motivated allegations against him.

“Finally, one way or another Mr Tony Blair will face questioning from me in court and account not only for what crimes I allege he has committed in Iraq and against the British people, but also the crime of conspiring to stop me from issuing an arrest warrant against him both in Spain and in the United Kingdom by this absurd prosecution.

“The British police have had many years to deal with a matter of four clients (pressing charges against me), all who lost in the County Court in civil actions but chose to act now, days prior to my issuing an arrest warrant for Tony Blair.

“Not only will my day in court come, but so will the day when the British people see Mr Blair in the witness stand being examined by me and answering for his actions. For these reasons, I elected to return to the United Kingdom because the allegations that the British police have accused me of carry a limitation period in Spain and as such I could not have been extradited.

“But the thought and desire to give all those who Tony Blair has wronged the examination in court is too strong and worth any suffering I may have to endure during its process.

“Finally, I will have my chance on behalf of the 1,332,227 Iraqi citizens who have died in Iraq since 2003 and the 179 British soldiers killed to this day. I have notified both the DPP and the AG that I will require Tony Blair’s attendance as a witness and will be serving the appropriate subpoenas upon my return.”

However, Tony Blair was never called as a witness, he did not see his day in court and on 27 March 2013 Di Stefano was found guilty of all charges - nine counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, eight counts of fraud, three counts of acquiring criminal property, two counts of using a false instrument, one count of attempting to obtain a money transfer by deception, one count of obtaining property by deception and one count of using criminal property. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two additional counts: defrauding a couple out of £160,000, including a woman’s life savings of £75,000, and stealing £150,000 from a man who had been in a car accident and lost a limb.

He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Judge Alistair McCreath said that Di Stefano had caused misery and frustration to many people and called him a predator for his treatment of “desperate and vulnerable” clients: “You had no regard for them nor for their anguish. Your only concern was to line your own pockets.”

He described Di Stefano’s crimes as “planned and persistent”, his defence in court as “breathtakingly cynical”, and his overall conduct as showing “greed, dishonesty and utter disregard for the sensibilities of others”.

For those who remember, you read it first in the Majorca Daily Bulletin. If not, this is a reminder and the rest is now available to watch on Sky.

You never know who is going to turn up in Mallorca.