David Sherborne has a history of representing the rich and famous in court.
A significant chunk of the acres of press coverage of the “Wagatha Christie” libel trial, where he is representing Coleen Rooney, has focused on the colourful barrister, who built his reputation by acting on behalf of celebrities in high-profile hearings.
Called to the bar
The son of a criminal QC, Sherborne was educated privately in Hampstead and at Oxford, where he got a first-class honours degree in classics. After finishing his Bar Finals at the Inns of Court School of Law, he was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1992, according to his chambers website.
In 2003, he was a junior member of the team that won the landmark privacy case for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones against Hello! magazine and he was also involved in Max Mosley’s successful 2008 suit against the News of the World.
Sherborne came to wider public attention during the 2012 Leveson inquiry into press standards, where he argued on behalf of celebrities who said their privacy had been invaded.
The Guardian said that Sherborne, then 43, was “boyish, tanned and sporting a metropolitan bouffant of hair” as he made the then editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, “increasingly apoplectic” with his questions about phone hacking.
After Lord Leveson’s report was published, Dacre’s paper published stories about Sherborne’s private life. The “Loverson inquiry” stories reported that the “twice divorced” lawyer was in a relationship with the junior counsel acting for Leveson – Carine Patry Hoskins – who had left her husband, a QC. The pair said their relationship began after the inquiry ended.
Sherborne made headlines again when it was revealed that he had been paid £220,000 of taxpayers’ money for the Leveson case, noted The Independent.
However, the intrusive stories seemed to work to Sherborne’s advantage. Having had paparazzi photographers camped on his own doorstep, he was more relatable for celebrity clients. He was soon representing a galaxy of stars: Elton John, Harry Styles, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. The Hollywood actor even greeted Sherborne with a hug outside court.
Sherborne has also represented other A-listers, including Diana, Princess of Wales, Tony Blair, Amy Winehouse and Cheryl Cole. However, noted the Daily Mail, in September 2020, he was dropped from the Duchess of Sussex’s legal team in her case against The Mail on Sunday following an early setback.
He is centre-stage again as he defends Coleen Rooney against Rebekah Vardy’s “Wagatha Christie” libel case. Vardy is suing Rooney for libel over an Instagram post in which Rooney claimed Vardy was leaking personal stories about her to The Sun newspaper.
The hearings have seen “the best and worst of his style”, said The Guardian – one described by fellow barristers as a mixture of “undoubted charm”, “showboating” and “frequently pissing off the judge”.
“It is wrong that David hasn’t been preferred as a QC. The gatekeepers don’t like that he is a bit showy,” leading media lawyer Mark Stephens said.
A former colleague told The Times that Sherborne – known to colleagues as “Sherbs”, or “Orange Sherbet” because of “his year-round mahogany tan” – likes to present “a fun, outgoing persona and is very limelight-seeking”, adding that “all the other barristers in chambers were hyper-critical of him”.