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David Mills (lawyer)

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Name  David Mills
Role  Corporate lawyer
Spouse  Tessa Jowell (m. 1979)

David Mills (lawyer) itelegraphcoukmultimediaarchive02092mil209
Education  University College, Oxford
Similar People  Tessa Jowell, Roger Jowell, Carlo Bernasconi, Jess Mills

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David Mackenzie Mills (born 1944) is a British corporate lawyer who specialises in international work for Italian companies. He was accused of money-laundering and alleged tax fraud, involving Silvio Berlusconi, he was convicted in first instance and in appeal, but the conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court of Cassation. He has been married to the Labour Party politician Tessa Jowell since 1979. Although they separated in 2006, they had effectively reunited by 2012.


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Background and career

David Mills (lawyer) Judi Dench is elegant at Sandown races with David Mills Daily Mail

According to The Independent, his father Kenneth Mills, was a senior spy. At the end of World War II, Kenneth Mills was running MI5's operations from Gibraltar. Later, he was transferred to Jamaica and—according to a family legend—personally foiled an attempted revolution in Cuba.

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David Mills was a barrister who became a commercial solicitor in the 1980s. He is a former Labour councillor in the London borough of Camden, and like others involved in the London Labour party of the 1980s is close to the Blairite group of politicians and left-leaning celebrities, to which his second wife belongs. Mills founded the niche private client law firm MacKenzie Mills which merged with Withers Worldwide in 1995.

Berlusconi and "Jowellgate"

Mills acted for Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the early 1990s. This has been the cause of controversy and of allegations. David Mills was involved in setting up a large number of offshore trusts for the "B Operation" as he termed Fininvest, Silvio Berlusconi's operations. Mills was investigated in Italy for money-laundering and alleged tax fraud and on 10 March 2006 prosecutors in Milan asked a judge to order Mills and Berlusconi to stand trial on corruption charges. Prosecutors submitted 15,000 pages of documents to the preliminary hearing judge who will determine whether the case should go to full trial.

In February 2004, he had written to his accountants laying out a scenario where he would receive a large amount of money from the "B Operation" (Berlusconi's Fininvest) for having "turned some very tricky corners, to put it mildly" which "had kept Mr B out of a great deal of trouble that I would have landed him in if I had said all I knew".

He admitted this story to Italian prosecutors, later retracting it and claiming that the money came from someone else. One source cited was Diego Attanasio, a shipping magnate and another Italian client of Mills. Attanasio denies this story. Questions were also asked about a woman living on a council estate in London's East End who is recorded as a director or company secretary of 19 companies which Mills established on behalf of his Italian clients.

On 17 February 2009, an Italian court sentenced David Mills to four years and six months in jail for accepting a bribe from Silvio Berlusconi to give false evidence on his behalf in corruption trials in 1997 and 1998.


His defence counsel said that he would appeal, claiming that the sentence went "against the logic and dynamic of the evidence presented." Ms Jowell said "although we are separated I have never doubted his innocence."

On 27 October 2009, the Italian Appeal Court upheld his conviction and his sentence of 4½ years prison. He confirmed that he would initiate a second and final appeal to the Cassation Court.

On 25 February 2010, the Italian Cassation Court (the second and last court of appeal under Italian law) ruled a sentence of not guilty because the statute of limitations expired.

Claim that he had lied to the Inland Revenue

In evidence given by videolink from London to a Milanese court in December 2011, Mills stated that his previous claim that Berlusconi had bribed him to the extent of $600,000 had been a lie prompted by the need to "provide to the Inland Revenue a story which explained why I had treated the money as a gift and not as income" and that the money had in reality been a stipend paid to him by Italian shipbuilder Diego Attanasio. He further stated that "Mr Berlusconi is entirely innocent in this case and had absolutely nothing to do with the 600,000 dollars which is the subject of the case. I wish to apologise to him for all the trouble that I've caused.”


Mills was also involved when Formula One Racing secured a derogation from European limits on tobacco advertising after Bernie Ecclestone contributed more than one million pounds to the Labour Party during the 1997 General Election.

Trading with Iran

In 2003, it was revealed he was involved in an unsuccessful deal for Iranian airline Mahan Air to buy a fleet of BAe 146 aircraft from British Aerospace. He said the sale did not go through and that he was not granted any preferential treatment. However Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons gave advice to Mills on the political climate surrounding the project.

It was subsequently disclosed that as a consequence of these dealings, Jowell had been excluded from Cabinet papers and talks on Iran since 2003.

Personal life

Mills has three children from his first marriage, including the journalist Eleanor Mills, editorial director of The Sunday Times.

Mills and Jowell have a son and daughter. In 2009, the couple owned houses in Kentish Town in north London and in Warwickshire.

In March 2006, after Jowell had claimed that Mills had not told her, until four years after the event, that Mills had been given £340,000 for his work for Silvio Berlusconi, the couple "agreed to a period of separation." The separation had effectively ended by September 2012.

David Mills' brother John Mills is chairman of JML (John Mills Limited) and a one-time Labour councillor in Camden. John Mills is one of Labour's largest party donors. and was married Dame Barbara Mills QC (died 2011), Director of Public Prosecutions (1992–1998).


David Mills (lawyer) Wikipedia