Two barristers were targets of a fake bomb plot after they helped confiscate £1m from a wealthy businessman’s wife, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.
Jonathan Nuttall, 50, is accused of planting two packages resembling explosive devices at Gray’s Inn on 14 September 2021.
Andrew Sutcliffe KC and Anne Jeavons had both acted for the National Crime Agency (NCA) in recovering £1m of assets from Mr Nuttall’s wife, Amanda.
The court was told Mr Nuttall and his associates left packages designed to resemble explosive devices, with Mr Sutcliffe’s name on, and set off smoke grenades to cause maximum alarm in the heart of London’s legal district.
Buildings were evacuated, roads cordoned off and a large number of police officers attended the scene.
Mr Nuttall recruited former Royal Marine Michael Broddle through his driver, and that Mr Broddle spied on the lawyers and their families for six months, jurors were told.
Mr Broddle, 46, has admitted two counts of placing an article with intention of inducing a belief it would explode or ignite and possession of an explosive substance.
Mr Nuttall, his driver Michael Sode, 58, along with Mr Broddle’s sons Joshua, 20, and Charlie, 18, all deny two counts of placing an article with intent.
Charlie Broddle also denies possession of an explosive substance, the first device.
Another man, George Gray, 25, is charged alongside the other defendants with attempting to transfer money they knew or suspected was the proceeds of criminal conduct. They all deny this.
Prosecutor Catherine Farrelly said one of the devices was left close to a bench and the other outside the chambers 3 Verulam Buildings, from where the two barristers practise.
“The significant attention that surrounded those events was designed not only to cause widespread alarm but it was intended to specifically cause him alarm, distress and public and professional embarrassment.
“Whoever was behind such an attack had clearly considered and planned it carefully. Such a person must have had a deep-seated grudge against him and it would have required the means in which to execute such a bold and targeted strike against him.
“The prosecution case is that that person was Jonathan Nuttall.”
Ms Farrelly explained that, since 2011, the NCA was investigating Mr Nuttall, his wife and others on suspicion of money laundering and other offences.
The NCA instructed Mr Sutcliffe in 2015 to conduct the legal proceedings flowing from that investigation, with Ms Jeavons brought in to work with him in 2017.
“That case has gone on over several years and it involved an order being made in April 2019 for over £1m worth of assets being recovered from Amanda Nuttall. The case didn’t end there and, in fact, it continues to be litigated in the High Court.”
The prosecutor said it was “clear” that Mr Nuttall “harboured a great deal of animosity towards Andrew Sutcliffe and, to a lesser degree, Anne Jeavons, accusing them of behaving in an unprofessional way when conducting the case for the NCA.
“It is clear that Jonathan Nuttall perceived the NCA case as causing him and his family public embarrassment and ruining their reputation and he was not willing to accept that.”
She said Michael Broddle conducted research and surveillance on the barristers and their families for at least six months beforehand, assisted by his sons.
The trial is set to last until the end of July.