10 March 2011

An interview with Stephane Zerbib, Galliano's lawyer!

John Galliano himself may have been dispatched to an undisclosed location (believed to be rehab in the States) but that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of this case, even for now. His feisty lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, a prominent Jewish litigator, has given a forthright interview to an Israeli paper called YNet News.

Zerbib explains that his client is refuting the allegations of anti-Semitism and he says that the incriminating video that was circulated, which was shot on a separate occasion to the night that Galliano was arrested, will not be used as evidence in the trial. He hinted that it was, in some way staged or set up, with the words ‘Let's just say that today this video is worth nothing.’ but declined to elaborate further.

Here is the transcript of the interview;

Your client is accused of making rather harsh anti-Semitic comments. What is your explanation for this?
I have no explanation. It could happen to any one of us. Anyone can go to a bar, drink a little and get into a fight with someone.

So alcohol is to blame?
It’s alcohol mixed with medications. You're very vulnerable when you're in this state. People who don’t know the case can afford to say things and they all have opinions. It's easy to talk, criticize, be appalled. But these people don't know what really happened.

Cynics would say he hired you specifically because you are Jewish.
If it amuses them let them say it. But I have been John Galliano's lawyer for the past seven years. It has nothing to do with the fact that I have a Jewish name.

Did you sense his alleged prejudices over the years?
Never

Were you surprised by the recent publications?
Very. I'm not the only one – everyone was surprised. I heard about it that same Thursday, but there was no talk of anti-Semitism at the time. The cops weren't handling it as a case of anti-Semitism.

So what were they investigating?
An argument between people, like people fight in a bar.

Strange, there have been anti-Semitic quotes in the press.
Yes, that's the complaint the woman filed.

And you still believe he never made such comments.
Yes

In your experience, what kind of a person is he?
He's polite, courteous, very human. His collections have always been about tolerance, openness, love and mutual respect. He even did a show inspired by the homeless to remind us of the creativity of those struggling to make it with little financial means.

When the interviewer asked him what the reaction him, as a Jewish person participating in such a trial, where the attitude towards Galliano since the scandal erupted is not one of sympathy. In fact the words ‘the new Mel Gibson’ have been used, and not in a good way – he was sanguine.

‘No. First of all it has nothing to do with the fact I'm Jewish or not. In this profession we take an oath to provide any person with the possibility of defence, regardless of their social background, nationality, religion or skin colour’

The penalty for the charges John Galliano faces in France would be a fine of £20 000 or jail for a maximum six months, so there is still much at stake even now he has lost his prestigious job at Christian Dior.


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