In the Media

Devastating impact of Philpott case

PUBLISHED April 12, 2013

Monday 15 April 2013 by Jonathan Rayner

Who? Stephen Chittenden, 62, senior partner and head of crime at East Midlands firm Smith Partnership.

Why is he in the news? Acted for Michael Philpott, 56, jailed for life on 4 April after being found guilty of killing six of his children in a house fire that Philpott started.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Philpott had started the fire in an attempt to frame his former girlfriend, Lisa Willis, 29, after she had left the family home with her children three months earlier.

Philpott's wife Mairead, 32, and friend Paul Mosley, 46, were also found guilty and each sentenced to 17 years in jail.

Thoughts on the case: 'I have known Philpott for many years and even come from the same district where he was living. It's a deprived but close community where people look after one another and I'm saddened by the devastating impact that this case must have had upon it.'

Dealing with the media: 'Some of the reporters were quite sneaky, pretending to be someone else to get past the switchboard and talk to me. The media had a job to do and so did we, but I wasn't in a position to comment publicly.'

Why become a lawyer? 'I was in school detention for playing football on the tennis courts and there was a leaflet about becoming a solicitor and earning the then huge sum of £3,000 a year. I was hooked. It's just a shame that with all the legal aid changes, I'm still earning £3,000 at the end of my career.'

Career high: 'Acting in the case of teenager Lynn Siddons, who was murdered in 1978, but whose killer wasn't identified until 1991 when the family brought a civil case against the main suspect. The police reopened the case and the murderer was convicted.'

Career low: 'Politicians constantly carping about fat cat legal aid lawyers.'