Galliano's Jewish lawyer: It could happen to anyone

By Jennifer Lipman, March 9, 2011
John Galliano

John Galliano

John Galliano’s Jewish lawyer has defended the disgraced fashion designer as someone dedicated to “tolerance, openness, love and mutual respect”.

Stephane Zerbib, who has acted as Mr Galliano's legal adviser for seven years, has also represented the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and a group of Israelis accused of spying on Iran.

Speaking to Israel’s YNet ahead of what is perhaps his most high-profile case yet, Mr Zerbib said he did not believe the claims about the designer’s stance on Jews. Mr Galliano was accused of antisemitism last month, a charge he has denied, following a number of allegedly racially motivated incidents in a fashionable Paris bar.

After a video in which the British couturier declared his love for Adolf Hitler surfaced, his behaviour was condemned by Jewish actress and Dior model Natalie Portman and he was dropped as Christian Dior’s chief designer. It was then announced that he would face trial under France’s strict laws on racial abuse.

Mr Zerbib said that what had happened to his client could have happened to anyone and emphasised Mr Galliano’s right to a fair trial.

Defending Mr Galliano for being “vulnerable” at the time because of “alcohol mixed with medications”, he said: “It's easy to talk, criticise, be appalled. But these people don't know what really happened."

Because of his religion Mr Zerbib has already been condemned for acting in such a controversial case.

But he told Ynet he had the support of at least one Jew. “[My mother] said she was very proud her son is doing his job,” said Mr Zerbib.

Last updated: 6:37pm, March 9 2011