The Baroness Shackleton
Fiona Sara Charkham
26 May 1956
Fiona Sara Shackleton, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia LVO (née Charkham; born 26 May 1956) is an English solicitor and politician, who has represented members of the British royal family and celebrities, including Sir Paul McCartney, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Charles, Prince of Wales, and Princess Haya bint Hussein. Her charm and resoluteness earned her the nickname "Steel Magnolia".
Born Fiona Sara Charkham in London, she is the daughter of Jonathan Charkham, an economist and adviser to The Bank of England, and Moira Elizabeth Frances Salmon, daughter of Barnett Alfred and Molly Salmon. Her mother's family, the Salmon family, were co-owners of the J. Lyons & Co. cornerhouse empire. Through the Salmon family, Shackleton is a cousin to Nigella and Dominic Lawson, and George Monbiot.
Shackleton was educated at Benenden School in Kent. She attended Exeter University, graduating with a third class degree in law. Shackleton then trained as a cordon bleu chef, and became an executive caterer for boardrooms before training to be a solicitor. In July 2010, she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter in the form of an LL.D.
Shackleton supported the research by the University of Exeter examining compatibility and the ten key aspects of a successful relationship (named the Shackleton Project). The research was published in July 2018.
Shackleton qualified as a solicitor in 1980, and by 1986 she had become a partner at Farrer and Co, the firm of solicitors employed by the British royal family. In the same year Shackleton and other international family lawyers, including Jane Simpson and Raymond Tooth, co-founded the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an invitation-only organisation which now consists of over 500 of the world's leading family lawyers. Her first high-profile case was that of the Duke and Duchess of York.
Shackleton joined Payne Hicks Beach in 2001 as a partner. Shackleton is reputed to have fallen out of royal favour in the aftermath of the Paul Burrell affair and the suggestions of a cover-up over allegations of a homosexual rape within the royal household put Shackleton, in her own words, "under pressure for a solution to be reached more speedily than I was able to achieve". She was criticised in the Peat Report on the proceedings.
In March 2012, one of Shackleton's former clients filed a negligence claim against her for incorrect advice on a child support case. The former client states that due to this erroneous advice he lost out on more than £260,000. Shackleton charged over £95,000 in fees for the advice. The case was subsequently dropped and the client paid his own costs.
Shackleton's high-profile cases include:
- The Duke and Duchess of York: where Shackleton represented the Duke. The Duchess was able to negotiate a £3 million settlement.
- The Prince and Princess of Wales: where Shackleton represented the Prince. The Princess was able to negotiate a £17 million settlement and observers saw the outcome as a creditable draw. On the same date that Buckingham Palace announced to the public that the Prince and Princess had reached a settlement, the Queen issued letters patent to regulate the styles and titles of former members of the royal family after divorce. Information about those letters patent was included by the Palace in the same press release that contained the announcement of the divorce agreement. In accordance with those letters patent, Diana lost her style of Royal Highness when the decree absolute of divorce was issued. The forfeiture of the title of Royal Highness is often attributed to the diligence of Shackleton, but styles of members of the royal family are governed by the prerogative of the sovereign.
- Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney: in which Shackleton represented the former Beatle, and secured leading QC Sir Nicholas Mostyn before Mills's solicitor Anthony Julius, leading to their being known during the case by the media as the "legal dream team." Mills described Shackleton in an interview with Larry King thus: "There’s this nasty woman – Fiona Shackleton. She wants to drag it out as long as possible to fill her pockets and she’s said some pretty mean things when I was in a wheelchair." At the final settlement hearing, Mills poured a jug of water over Shackleton's head.
- Claire and Thierry Henry: in which Shackleton represented wife Claire Merry, whose marriage broke down after the Arsenal striker left for Barcelona.
- John Cleese and Alyce Faye Eichelberger: in which she represented Alyce Faye. Cleese said afterwards, "What I find so unfair is that if we both died today, her children would get much more than mine".
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya bint Hussein: in which Shackleton represented Princess Haya.
According to several articles in the press, including two in The Telegraph, Shackleton has been accused of marking up the bills of her clients, including Madonna, Paul McCartney and Mrs Mortimer-Whealon. The article in the Telegraph, "The Top divorce lawyer, her big-name clients and marked up bills", was subsequently taken offline in August 2018, with the Telegraph citing "legal reasons" though their findings remain online. Claims in another article, "Fiona Shackleton's law firm is sued over 'ridiculous' divorce bills", was largely refuted by Shackleton's firm, Payne Hicks Beach.
Shackleton is married to Ian, who runs a business called The Chatham Archive & Document Storage Company, and who is related to Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The couple have two daughters.
- Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton
- James Stewart
- Marilyn Stowe
- Jane Simpson
- Collaborative Family Law
- Dyer, Clare (15 February 2008). "She can give people straight answers, often ones they don't want to hear, in such a way that they take it from her". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- BBC News: Magazine – Faces of the week
- "Deaths", The Times, 31 May 1965, p. 1
- "The Guardian Profile", The Guardian, 15 February 2008, p. 21
- Salmon & Gluckstein genealogy Archived 10 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "No. 59664". The London Gazette. 7 January 2011. p. 133.
- "Latest peerages announced". Gov.UK. 19 November 2010.
- The University of Exeter:"Shackleton Relationships Project"
- Report to HRH The Prince of Wales by Sir Michael Peat and Edmund Lawson QC, 13 March 2003 Archived 12 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "No. 57855". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2005. p. 3.
- TEAM MACCA vs TEAM MILLS – The Independent, London
- The Lawyer: "Shackleton faces negligence claim from former client", 26 March 2012
- The Lawyer: "Former client drops negligence claim against Shackleton", 10 December 2012
- Brown, David; Ames, Jonathan; Haugh, Ben (4 July 2019). "Royal lawyer 'advising on split' between Dubai's ruler and wife". The Times. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
- Alderson, Andrew; Mendick, Robert (29 May 2010). "Duchess of York's divorce settlement was worth £3 million". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "Faces of the week". BBC. 23 March 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
- Reality bites for the McCartneys – Scotsman.com
- "Sir Nicholas Mostyn". The Times. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
- Daily Express: "Heather: Paul sent me flowers"
- Mills soaked McCartney's lawyer
- Adams, Stephen (18 October 2007). "Thierry Henry's ex to take £10m in divorce". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
- Andrew Pierce (18 August 2009). "John Cleese in £12 million divorce settlement". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Bostock, Bill (4 July 2019). "Princess Haya hires Shackleton, royal lawyer, to battle Emir of Dubai". Business Insider. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- "Fiona Shackleton's law firm is sued over 'ridiculous' divorce bills". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
- "About Us | Chatham Archive". chathamarchive.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
- "Fiona Shackleton, divorce lawyer to the stars". The Telegraph. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2019.