Sue Stapely may have relinquished her role as Law Society PR chief but a
seminal part of the profession’s public face is still very much in her
hands. For, unbeknown to many, Stapely is a legal adviser to one of the
UK’s most esteemed institutions - The Archers.
Trained solicitor Stapely first got down on the farm six years ago after
writing in to beg for some professional dynamism from the agonisingly
dull Ambridge solicitor Mark Hebden.
She was invited to a meeting, became an adviser, and - long after the
dull Hebden went to the big courtroom in the sky - is still on board.
Her role has covered everything from agricultural tenancies to the
creation of Asian female lawyer Usha Gupta to the three-month
imprisonment of mother-of-two Susan Carter, for harbouring her fugitive
brother Clive, which inspired the national ‘Free the Ambridge One’
This story-line led to a final public blurring of fact and fiction, as
Stapely recalls: ‘It all got to a heady peak when I got a call from
Michael Howard, who had returned from a trip abroad to be greeted by the
constituent who started the campaign, requesting he overturn the
Rather than hastening the release of the unfortunate Susan, Stapely
instead provided Howard with details of similar cases, all of which
involved equally harsh sentences.
Fishburn Hedges director Stapely says her Ambridge days have thrown up
the most unlikely Archers’ fans.
‘At the last Archers party,’ she confides, ‘Adam Faith and I became
engaged in the most animated conversation about how Sundays weren’t
Sundays if we weren’t ensconced in our respective baths listening to the