David Mills (Law)

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David Mills is a lawyer who founded MacKenzie Mills, now Withers Worldwide, worked at Gordon Dadds and Mills Saint James.

He was involved in a court case involving Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, after lying about money he received, has been involved in controversial dealings with Bernie Ecclestone and with Iran.

He is married to Labour MP Tessa Jowell.


Mills qualified as a lawyer in the 1980s, setting up his own business, Mackenzie Mills, and running the London office of Milan based Carnelutti. In 2001 he joined Mayfair private client law firm Gordon Dadds as an equity partner and in 2003 he set up Mills Saint James.[1]


Berlusconi case

Some of Mills' Italian clients wanted advice on the use of offshore trusts, so Mills and his associates set up CMM Corporate Services to deal with with this. With this company, Mills helped former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, to set up many offshore trusts, termed Fininvest. In 1996, the Serious Fraud Office, acting on behalf of prosecutors in Milan, raided the offices of the company that Mills had sold CMM to, they found documents showing that the former Italian PM had used his hidden corporations to get around the rules on media ownership, to bribe, corrupt and evade tax. Berlusconi denied any wrongdoing, blaming a witch-hunt by leftwingers and Mills claimed he was a professional adviser who always acted within the law.[1]

Because of his dealings with Fininvest, Mills was investigated for money-laundering and alleged tax fraud and in 2006 was charged, as well as Berlusconi, on corruption charges. Mills was accused of receiving $600,000 from Berlusconi in return for not revealing details of Fininvest.[2] He was sentenced to 4 and half years, however after appealing twice, the charges against Mills were dropped as they had expired due to to a 10-year statute of limitations.[3]

In 2011 Mills revealed at Berlusconi's trial that the $600,000 he had claimed was from Silvio Berlusconi" Berlusconi was actually from Diego Attanasio. He admitted to the court that his original story was fiction, invented so he did not have to pay tax to the Inland Revenue and that he had not wanted to admit to the money coming from an associate, Diego Attanasio.[4][5]

Throughout out his dealings with the courts, Mills was represented by public relations consultants Bell Pottinger.[6]


Mills was an adviser to Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One tycoon, at the same time that his wife Tessa Jowell was formulating legislation on banning tobacco advertising in the sport. Ecclestone donated more than £1million to the Labour Party, and a ban was reprieved. However Tessa Jowell said, "The Ecclestone donation had no bearing on policy whatever", that her husband was the "innocent target of a vile and politically motivated slur" and there was no conflict of interest with her ministerial job.[7]


In 2003, after being appointed head of the British arm of a private Iranian trading company called ILTC, who have a large shareholding in airline Mahan Air. On behalf of Mahan Air, Mills tried purchase a fleet of BAE 146 aircrafts, however this moved was blocked by the American government. Mills then found himself at a dinner party, sitting next to Baroness Symons, a foreign minister at the time, who reportedly agreed to speak to the British embassy to see if any deal could be made, she was told there was not a chance.Because of his dealings with Iran, Mills' wife Tessa Jowell has been excluded from Cabinet discussions on Iran since the time of the deal.[7][8]

Personal Life

In 1979 Mills and Tessa Jowell married. They separated, but did not divorce, in 2006 during Mills' court case for money laundering and corruption. Upon their separation they sold their family home which was it turned out had been partly paid for by the controversial $600,000.[9]

In 2012 they reconciled and are living together again.[10]

His brother is John Mills, the chairman and owner of John Mills Limited and Labour Party donor.


  1. 1.0 1.1 John Hooper and Tania Branigan The Guardian profile: David Mills The Guardian, 24 February 2006, accessed 12 November 2014
  2. Reuters and AP Hearing in Berlusconi, Mills case set for June 5 Hurriyet Daily News, 17 March 2006, 12 November 2014
  3. Nick Squires David Mills bribery case thrown out of Italian court on technicality The Telegraph, 25 February 2010, accessed 12 November 2014
  4. Jennifer Cockerell David Mills 'ashamed' of Silvio Berlusconi claim The Independent, 22 December 2011, accessed 12 November 2014
  5. David Mills tells Berlusconi trial of 'false letter' BBC, 22 December 2011, accessed 12 November 2014
  6. David Hencke Former high-earning tax lawyer kept low profile after Italian storm broke The Guardian, 18 February 2009, accessed 12 November 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 David Mills Q and A The Telegraph, 13 March 2007, accessed 12 November 2014
  8. Stephen Glover Cronyism: The flaw that will condemn Blair The Daily Mail, 6 May 2003, accessed 12 November 2014
  9. Gaby Hinsliff The strains that ripped apart the golden couple The Guardian, 5 March 2006, accessed 12 November 2014
  10. Helen Minsky and Richard Kay After six years, Tessa Jowell is back with husband accused in Berlusconi 'bribe' row The Daily Mail, 18 September 2012, accessed 12 November 2014