Dechert’s former head of white-collar crime put a private investigator through ‘perjury school’ to rehearse a false account of how they obtained an airline tycoon’s hacked emails, it has been claimed.

Neil Gerrard is said to have conducted a ‘mock trial … acting as both the judge and the cross-examining counsel’ at a Swiss hotel ahead of a High Court trial in a case between Farhad Azima and the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), according to private investigator Stuart Page.

Azima’s lawyers said in a motion filed in a New York court – in an application for disclosure against Amir Handjani, who is on the board of RAK Petroleum and gave evidence at the High Court trial – that Gerrard ‘led what amounts to a perjury school, where he trained the trial witnesses on how to deceive the court in the UK’.

Page’s allegations were made in relation to ongoing proceedings, in which Azima alleges RAKIA hacked his emails before using them in its claim against him for fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy. The claim is also brought against Dechert, Gerrard, Page and a former adviser to Ras Al Khaimah’s ruler.

A spokesperson for Dechert and Gerrard said: ‘We have no comment on the proceedings beyond that we are defending the claims.’ Dechert and Gerrard ‘strenuously deny’ any part in the hacking or dissemination of Azima’s data, in their written defence to Azima’s hacking claim.

A spokesperson for RAKIA said: ‘RAKIA maintains that the trial judge was correct to find that RAKIA was not responsible for the hacking or for the posting of Mr Azima’s data and will continue to defend those claims.’

In 2020, the High Court found that Azima committed fraudulent misrepresentation and bribery in relation to a settlement with RAKIA, ruling that he was liable to pay RAKIA just over $4m.

Azima’s counter-claim against RAKIA, alleging it was responsible for the hacking of his emails, was dismissed but was remitted to the High Court by the Court of Appeal last year.

His appeal in relation to the judgment against him on RAKIA’s original claim was refused and a decision on permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court is pending.

In a witness statement filed with the Supreme Court this month, Page alleges Gerrard helped ‘perfect the narrative that we were to tell the English court’ over three days in December 2019 at a ‘small boutique hotel in the mountains outside of Bern’.

‘We made use of the hotel’s private chef and their wine from the hotel’s cellar,’ Page claims, adding that the preparation sessions were ‘a mixture of eating, drinking and sections of cross-examination by Neil to drill into our story’.

‘During one of our sessions, Neil said something to the effect of “if they ever believe or prove that we are behind the hacking, then this thing is going to drag on for years”,’ Page added.