An Italian man who allegedly posed as a top lawyer and became known as The Devil's Advocate for taking on "unwinnable" cases told a BBC documentary he would represent Hitler if he had the chance, a court heard yesterday.

Former Dundee FC director Giovanni di Stefano, 57, called Saddam Hussein a "nice guy" and boasted of being asked to defend killers Jeremy Bamber, Harold Shipman, Kenneth Noye and Linda Calvey in the programme, shown in 2004.

Jurors at London's Southwark Crown Court, where he denies 25 charges including deception, fraud and money laundering, were shown the documentary which called him the "scourge of the British legal establishment, hero of the criminal establishment".

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One of his clients, property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten, who was serving 10 years for manslaughter, is described by di Stefano as an "idol".

Another criminal he represents is John "Goldfinger" Palmer, who the documentary says was involved in a timeshare scandal that made him £30 million and defrauded 17,000 victims.

But di Stefano tells the camera: "It's thanks to him that people have been able to dream about the sun."

The defendant, who boasts his wealth is as much as £200m, is happy to admit admiring fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Di Stefano, of Canterbury, Kent, is alleged to have conned clients out of millions of pounds by setting himself up as a bona fide lawyer when he had no legal qualifications and was not registered to work as a lawyer in Italy or the UK. The trial continues.