Fake ‘Devil’s Advocate’ lawyer ‘will want to capitalize on fame’, warns Scots QC

A fake lawyer, who claimed to represent dictators, warlords and assassins, is ready to cash in on his own notoriety when he gets out of jail.

Giovanni Di Stefano, known as “the devil’s advocate,” said his clients included Saddam Hussein, Harold Shipman, Gary Glitter, Ian Brady and a host of celebrities.

The scammer, who was found to have no legal qualifications, is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being found guilty on a series of fraud and deception charges.

But one of the country’s leading lawyers, Jerome Lynch QC, has warned that when Di Stefano is released, which could be as early as next year, he will be back in the spotlight.

Fabrizio Ravanelli signed for Dundee FC with Jim Duffy (R) and Giovanni di Stefano (L) in 2003
Fabrizio Ravanelli signed for Dundee FC with Jim Duffy (R) and Giovanni di Stefano (L) in 2003

Lynch, who worked with Di Stefano on a number of legal cases, including one involving the blackmailing of a senior member of the royal family, said: “There is no chance of Giovanni keeping quiet. I suspect that when he is released he will want to do TV shows about his life.

“He will look to do things that put him back in the spotlight.”

But he said the fraudster, who joined Dundee Football Club’s board of directors in 2003, would have made a skilled lawyer.

He added: “It is a great pity that he did not feel that he could study and become a lawyer. He would have been a good one. He found problems with the law and identified problems for his clients”.

Di Stefano, who was born in Italy and moved to Northamptonshire as a child, first became famous in legal and media circles after court victories for property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten and gangster John Palmer.

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Van Hoogstraten had been jailed for 10 years after being convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of a business rival. But with Di Stefano’s help, his legal team successfully argued that the judge at his trial had misled the jury. His retrial failed and van Hoogstraten was released.

For Palmer, Di Stefano helped defeat a £33m confiscation order after arguing that the documents given to him referred to the wrong section of law.

Di Stefano went on to represent, or claimed to represent, famous figures such as former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, former Zambian President Robert Mugabe and Serbian paramilitary leader Arkan. He said that he was part of Iraqi dictator Hussein’s legal team and that he had known and advised Osama bin Laden.

He also claimed to represent serial killer Shipman, pedophile Glitter, and moor killer Brady. Other clients he claimed to have included train robber Ronnie Briggs and evil villain Charles Bronson.

Di Stefano, who falsely said he studied law at Cambridge and in Italy, appeared on television news channels around the world to promote his work.

In 2003, he joined the Dundee board of directors, promising to bring in high-profile football stars. He lured Italian international Fabrizio Ravanelli into the team, but he left the following year after the investment he promised failed to materialise.

Di Stefano was arrested in Mallorca in 2011 and brought back to the UK, where in 2013 he was found guilty of 25 counts of fraud, deception and money laundering. He falsely claimed at his trial that he had been hired by MI6 to build a reputation as a lawyer to gain access to “persons of interest”.

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His life story is told in a new documentary, Devil’s Advocate: The Mostly True Story Of Giovanni Di Stefano, which premieres on Sky and Now TV on February 15.

Detective Jerry Walters said: “You can’t have a situation where people are posing as lawyers, heaping misery on people and defrauding victims. Ironically, it was his love of the media that ruined him.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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