The controversial Italian legal adviser to dead serial killer Harold Shipman - being probed by the Law Society and allegedly by the police - has told the Gazette that he has the right to practise law in the UK.

Giovanni Di Stefano - who has also acted for Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic and road rage killer Kenneth Noye - said that under European regulations, the Law Society could not demand more information from him.

He said: 'You don't have to register with a bar in Italy to be an Italian lawyer.'

A Law Society spokesman said: 'Giovanni Di Stefano is not registered with or regulated by the Law Society.

We are not convinced that he is entitled to provide legal services in the UK.

We are gathering information on him and liaising closely with the police.' Mr Di Stefano said the dispute was over interpretation of European Directive 77/249.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Constitutional Affairs said the police are looking into all of Mr Di Stefano's activities, which the police neither confirmed nor denied.

He denies there is an investigation.

Mr Di Stefano - subject last week to intense media coverage - denied categorically reports alleging that he is a former convicted and imprisoned fraudster, whose unsupervised activities had led to another solicitor being struck off.

He has complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

He told the Gazette that he will be in court in London this week on behalf of Aldo Ciarrochi, an Italian member of the gang convicted of conspiracy to steal diamonds from the Millennium Dome in 2001.

He said he is working on it through Paul Martin & Co, the Romford-based associate firm of Mr Di Stefano's firm, Studio Legale Internazionale.

Mr Martin told the Gazette: 'We always act as an agent, and are conscious of the Law Society's rules.'

Sue Tuck of Sue Tuck & Co - another London-based lawyer whose firm had appeared as an associate on Studio Legale Internazionale's Web site - said she had asked for the name to be removed from the Web site last week.

She said: 'I only did some work for them two years ago.'

Jeremy Fleming