Former BBC law ace joins Derry firm

The man responsible for advising the BBC legally on some of their most controversial investigative programming has joined Derry based entertainment law firm, SmithDehn.

It’s a major coup for the firm, who have offices at the state of the art North West Science Park.

The international media and entertainment law firm has a client roster that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, HBO, Paramount Pictures,Channel 4, 20th Century Fox and over 300 other media companies.

For most of his time at the BBC, Philip Wheeler served as the pre-publication adviser for BBC Northern Ireland, includingits multi-award winning TV current affairs strand, “Spotlight” His media law career has spanned 20 years, over 11 of which were spent at the BBC, as well as years at prestigious media law firms,after his graduation from Oxford University.

The leading expert on entertainment law will deliver a class in March as part of SmithDehn’s partnership with the University of Ulster at Magee.

Speaking to the Journal this week, Philip Wheeler said he was “excited” about working with the SmithDehn team.

He had previously advised the BBC on their coverage of the Bloody Sunday report and had worked on the famous Iris Robinson Spotlight documentary.

He said SmithDehn’s desire to facilitate the creativity of television and film clients had motivated him to join. He added: “I’m eager to increase my direct involvement with filmmakers,production companies and content developers and provide them with the benefit of the wide range of experience I’ve gained over the years.

“SmithDehn LLP, as the most innovative and rising leader in the field, is the perfect match for my continuing legal career. I am also looking forward to further training and fully utilising SmithDehn’s amazing teams in

Derry and throughout the world.”

SmithDehn founder and partner Russell Smith added: “The addition of Philip Wheeler to our team is a

perfect match. He combines vast experience and skill with a strong ‘can-do’attitude and motivation to help clients. Film and television companies in both the US and the UK have been waiting for the chance to hire us for UK content/compliance assistance. Finally they can.”

The addition to Philip Wheeler represents the most recent expansion into the UK by US-based SmithDehn,

which recently took on five other legal professionals for its UK operations, including four in Northern Ireland,