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UK-Bar Guide

Inquests & Public Inquiries — All Circuits

Band 1

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

1 Crown Office Row houses "an excellent bench of barristers," which includes some of the most prominent silks and juniors specialising in inquests and public inquiries. According to commentators, "1 Crown Office counsel are consistently among the best in the business." The set is particularly capable in inquests involving clinical negligence and professional negligence. Members field instructions from healthcare professionals, NHS trusts, bereaved families and other core participants. Coroners and inquiry chairs also routinely seek out counsel from 1 Crown Office Row. The set is consistently involved in the most high-profile instructions, and recent highlights include the Hillsborough inquest, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the inquest into the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham.

Client service: "The clerks are really good and professional, and they go the extra mile. They take the time to get to know you and look after you." Senior clerk Matthew Phipps is "excellent" and "runs a tight ship."

SILKS

Peter Skelton QC
Frequently instructed as counsel to large inquests and inquiries which are often under considerable media scrutiny. He also routinely represents participants in inquests involving clinical negligence. He is also instructed to defend coronial decisions in judicial review proceedings.
Strengths: "Excellent to work with. He is very knowledgeable and provides clear accurate advice."
Recent work: Instructed in the accountability and reparation investigation for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

JUNIORS

Matthew Hill
Strong track record of being instructed in very high-profile public inquiries and inquests. He is a go-to junior for coroners and inquiry chairs and also advises medical professionals, bereaved families and other core participants. His expertise also includes clinical negligence and professional discipline.
Strengths: "He is brilliant. He knows everything there is to know. He is very strategic, clear-minded and just a delightful person." "Very clever and very deft with how he approaches complex and sensitive issues." "He is extremely hard-working and comes up with incredibly creative solutions to any problem."
Recent work: Instructed as first junior counsel by the coroner in the renewed inquests into the deaths of 21 people killed as a result of the bombing of two busy pubs in Birmingham in 1974.

Neil Sheldon
Habitually represents NHS trusts, healthcare professionals and other participants in complex inquests. His wide-ranging experience includes cases concerning the armed services, national security, healthcare and historic child abuse.
Strengths: "His skeleton arguments are impressive."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

5 Essex Court has developed an enviable team for inquests and public inquiries work. According to one commentator, the set undertakes "a huge range of work and offers a lot of specialist barristers." Long renowned for representing police forces, members are also regularly instructed by other core participants, including government departments, NHS trusts and prison operators. Another area of expertise is acting as counsel to inquests and public inquiries. Solicitors say: "We view them as the leading set for inquests work." Recently, the set played a prominent role in the reopened inquest into the 1974 pub bombings in Birmingham as well as the inquest into the shooting in Tunisia.

Client service: "The clerking team at 5 Essex Court is very good. They provide quick responses." Senior clerk Mark Waller is "approachable and flexible." He is "very good and will go the extra mile for you."

SILKS

Fiona Barton QC
Brings her significant expertise in police law to her representation of police forces and officers in sensitive inquests and public inquiries. She also represents other state agents and is especially well versed in matters involving the criminal justice system.
Strengths: "She is extremely hard-working and has a very analytical mind. Also, she is very good with clients and very up to date on the current case law. She just exudes confidence."
Recent work: Acted for Surrey Police in the investigation into alleged abuse by members of the Anglican Church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Jason Beer QC
Established silk who habitually appears in highly publicised public inquiries and inquests. He handles matters involving police law, criminal justice, health and safety and public law. He typically acts on behalf of police forces and is also instructed by other core participants and as counsel to an inquiry.
Strengths: "He is massively knowledgeable about public inquiries." "He's an incredibly gifted advocate and is immensely hard-working."
Recent work: Acted as lead counsel to the public inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger, who was shot by a firearms officer during a Greater Manchester Police covert investigation named Operation Shire.

Samantha Leek QC
Strong choice to represent coroners and state agents in sensitive public inquiries and inquests. She has particular expertise in inquests arising out of police shootings and deaths in prison.
Strengths: "A very good lawyer. She has probably forgotten more about inquests law than others will ever learn." "She has a great client manner and is very good at dealing with bereaved families." "She can master a brief and can jump from representing coroners to witnesses to interested parties. Not all barristers can do that. She is very good at putting on different hats."
Recent work: Represented Leicestershire Police in the Lord Janner investigation and Nottinghamshire Police in the Nottinghamshire care homes investigation as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

Jeremy Johnson QC
Renowned police law expert with significant experience representing police constables in sensitive inquests and public inquiries. He is sought out for very complex matters, usually involving parallel disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
Strengths: "It is his judgement that is very impressive, and also his demeanour. He also impresses with his knowledge and approach to cases."
Recent work: Represented the Chief Constable for West Midlands Police in the reopened inquests into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, which killed 21 people and injured 182 others.

JUNIORS

Alison Hewitt
Wide-ranging inquests and public inquiries practice. She is instructed by coroners and interested parties in matters involving police law, professional discipline and clinical and mental health. She also serves as the Senior Coroner for the City of London.
Strengths: "She has a complete grasp of the material, is technically very good and her advocacy is superb." "She is very knowledgeable about coronial law. An undoubtedly sound grasp of the law. Also, she is exceptionally user-friendly."
Recent work: Acted for the Coroner for Surrey in an inquest into the death of a 7-year-old boy who died at his home as a result of toxic poisoning during a period of severe flooding.

Georgina Wolfe
Instructed in a broad range of public inquiries and inquests. Recent mandates include cases concerning police conduct, clinical negligence and prison deaths. She predominantly acts for state agents, including police forces, NHS trusts and government departments.
Strengths: "She is excellent. She has an incredible grasp of the documents, is excellent with the families and has a great grasp of the facts." "She is a really good advocate who doesn't make unnecessary points. She is extremely persuasive but in a very gentle manner."
Recent work: Instructed as senior junior for Leicestershire Police in the Lord Janner investigation and for Nottinghamshire Police in the Nottinghamshire care homes investigation, which are part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

Barnabas Branston
Significant experience of inquests involving police conduct and deaths in custody. He is typically instructed on behalf of police forces and prison operators. He also accepts instructions involving the NHS.
Strengths: "He is an incredibly persuasive advocate and his written submissions are of an excellent standard." "He is a master strategist. He understands which points to fight for and which not to."
Recent work: Represented the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in an inquest which considered the adequacy of support given to an alleged rape victim who had a history of mental health issues and killed herself after reporting an incident of rape.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

Doughty Street Chambers maintains its status as the dominant set for representing bereaved families and other individuals adversely affected by state actions in inquests and public inquiries. Solicitors are drawn to the "calibre of counsel" as well as the set's devotion to defending human rights. According to one source, the barristers "combine both passion and intellect." The "dynamic and cutting-edge lawyers" at Doughty Street receive instructions in a wide range of matters, including cases concerning prison deaths, police restraints and shootings, clinical negligence and mental health treatment. Members also have experience representing core participants in high-profile public inquiries. The set's related strengths in public law and human rights means it is also well placed to handle judicial reviews examining the scope of inquests as well as damages claims arising out of inquests.

Client service: "The clerking team is helpful and professional." "The clerks are willing to assist and be flexible on fees. Also, they are very responsive, which makes it ideal." The clerking team is led by chief executive Mark Dembovsky.

SILKS

Henrietta Hill QC
Appears on behalf of bereaved families and other participants in high-profile inquests and inquiries scrutinising the actions and omissions of the state. She is also experienced in leading investigations as counsel to inquiries and inquests. She also offers expert advice to clients who are seeking to obtain an inquiry or inquest.
Strengths: "Excellent knowledge and analysis of in-depth facts and difficult legal points. She provides clear, concise advice and is an asset in any case she is instructed in."
Recent work: Instructed by Hermitage Capital in the inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, who is thought to have been poisoned for his role in exposing a massive Russian fraud.

Heather Williams QC
Draws on her substantial expertise in police law to represent bereaved families and victims of alleged misconduct in inquests and inquiries. Her experience also includes inquests arising out of clinical negligence, mental health and self-inflicted deaths. She also provides expert advice and representation to clients in related civil proceedings.
Strengths: "She is extremely hard-working and has incredible attention to detail. You never have to worry that she hasn't picked up on anything. On her feet, she has complete command over a room."
Recent work: Instructed in the Undercover Policing Inquiry on behalf of families who fear that the identities of their deceased children were misappropriated to form fake identities for undercover police officers. The hearings considered whether Article 8 ECHR creates an applicable duty on the Metropolitan Police to disclose which identities were used.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC
Frequently appears for bereaved families in significant inquests that are often at the centre of broader social justice campaigns. She is particularly proficient in proceedings which scrutinise the adequacy of police investigations. Her significant public law expertise means she is a strong choice to appear in judicial reviews concerning coronial decisions and the scope of inquests.
Strengths: "An absolutely committed advocate." "She has a phenomenal work rate and is good in court."
Recent work: Acted for one of the bereaved families in the inquests into the deaths of 96 spectators following the tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.

JUNIORS

Adam Straw
Strong track record of being instructed in major, high-profile inquests and inquiries, typically on behalf of bereaved families. He also frequently appears in public law proceedings and human rights litigation arising out of inquests and public inquiries. He receives considerable praise for his legal knowledge and admirable work ethic.
Strengths: "He is extremely insightful, perceptive and able to identify issues. He is calm and good with clients." "He is just such a nice person, incredibly bright and really brings a good energy to the work. He writes extremely well and is very clear."
Recent work: Represented the family of Mr Grainger, who was fatally shot by the police, in an inquest which was converted into a public inquiry because of the involvement of sensitive information.

Kate Beattie
Well versed in inquests involving clinical negligence and mental health treatment. She is also experienced in public inquiries and capable of handling damages claims arising out of clinical negligence inquests.
Strengths: "She has a forensic approach to evidence, she is intelligent in her approach to strategy and her drafting is great."
Recent work: Represented the family in the inquest into the death of Mohammed Hassan, who died following an incident with a lorry in Banbury.

Jude Bunting
Has wide-reaching experience which includes inquests arising from deaths in prison, deaths in police custody and proceedings arising from the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He is particularly capable in inquests invoking Article 2 ECHR. His deep expertise in public and administrative law means he is well placed to advise on judicial reviews concerning coronial decisions.
Strengths: "He is a really good advocate. He is very good at charming judges and looks for bespoke legal arguments in factually complex cases." "He is very much on top of the law and facts and is very good with clients and other barristers."
Recent work: Represented Brigid Hughes in a judicial review challenging the lack of resources to allow for an inquest into the death of her husband, a civilian who was killed as he drove past an ambush on the IRA by the SAS in Loughgall, in Northern Ireland.

Alison Gerry
Brings her deep expertise in human rights law to bear on her inquests practice. She typically acts in Article 2 proceedings which involve deaths in prison, police custody and mental health institutions. She also has experience representing core participants in public inquiries.
Strengths: "Really thorough and she can get to the nub of an issue very quickly and explain it." "She is very good on the details. She looks thoroughly into the evidence and her pleadings are excellent. She is very good on her feet cross-examining witnesses, and her analysis of the evidence and strengths of the case are also excellent."
Recent work: Represented the family of a man who was allowed to leave a hospital ward unaccompanied and unnoticed despite being at high risk of suicide.

Jesse Nicholls
Extremely well regarded for his detailed knowledge of inquests. He frequently acts on behalf of bereaved families in high-profile inquests, including Article 2 proceedings. He is particularly capable in inquests scrutinising police conduct and other actions of the state. He is also routinely instructed by families and NGOs in judicial reviews arising from inquests.
Strengths: "Inquests often involve very stressful and emotionally intense issues for the client but Jesse is able to handle that. He is fantastic with clients. Also, he knows the law incredibly well. He is never wrong-footed on the law, which is impressive in an intense environment. Also, he is an excellent advocate and he works incredibly hard."
Recent work: Acted for the family in a fresh inquest into the death of a junior soldier who died from five gunshot wounds to the chest at the Deepcut army barracks in 1995. This case considered evidence of a toxic environment of bullying at the barracks and questions about the adequacy of the police investigation into his death.

Fiona Murphy
Brings to the Bar her years of experience as a solicitor handling inquests and actions against the police. She predominantly advocates on behalf of bereaved families in a wide range of matters, with a particular emphasis on inquests touching on police conduct.
Strengths: "She is fantastic with clients and really knowledgeable." "She is incredibly thorough."
Recent work: Represented the family of a 21-year-old man who was caught in the crossfire between rival south London gangs at a funeral in 2011. This inquest examined failures in the sharing of information held by police, and in their risk assessments, planning and deployment of officers.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

3 Raymond Buildings offers an impressive group of barristers experienced in inquests and public inquiries. The set is particularly strong in matters which involve an overlap with criminal and regulatory law. Members here are frequently instructed by police forces, individual police officers and chief constables in inquests concerning police shootings, restraint deaths and other aspects of police conduct. Its wide-ranging practice also includes public inquiries and inquests involving terrorism and national security, health and safety and clinical negligence. Recent involvement in the Undercover Policing Inquiry is of particular note. One solicitor says: "As a set, I really like them. The barristers are very sensible, level-headed and practical people."

Client service: "The clerks have been good. They get back to you when they say and they sort out any problems. They are very personable." "They are very proactive and I have been very happy with the service." Senior clerk Eddie Holland leads the team.

SILKS

Hugh Davies QC
Strong choice to represent individual police officers facing considerable scrutiny in inquests and public inquiries, often involving parallel professional discipline proceedings. He is especially experienced in inquests involving police shootings.
Strengths: "Extremely knowledgeable and his ability to assimilate large volumes of information in a short amount of time is unbelievable. He gets to grips with cases and is able to take on a much more holistic view. His drafting skills are A1 and to the point." "A highly impressive advocate. He rolls his sleeves up and has excellent judgement."
Recent work: Represented retired police officers associated with the investigation and prosecution of the Birmingham Six in relation to an application by the family of the deceased to resume the inquest.

Patrick Gibbs QC
Strong track record of being instructed in the highest-profile inquests and inquiries, particularly where police conduct is under scrutiny. He is well suited to handling inquests which might result in criminal liability or disciplinary action. He routinely appears on behalf of all participants, including state agents and bereaved families.
Strengths: "He has enormous presence and commands respect from the Bench." "Clients like him, solicitors like him and he is very good in court."

Hugo Keith QC
Habitually represents individuals, state agents and other participants in sensitive public inquiries and inquests, usually under considerable media attention. His broad expertise includes sensitive police law, terrorism and national security issues. As a renowned criminal silk, he is a particularly popular choice for inquests which involve parallel criminal proceedings.
Strengths: "He is very, very smart and very effective." "He is clear-sighted, articulate and capable."

Richard Horwell QC
Predominantly represents police forces in sensitive and politically charged public inquiries. He is also instructed by other state agents, including NHS trusts and educational institutions. He also advises clients in the aftermath of inquiries, offering guidance through the Maxwellisation process and assisting with the implementation of recommended reforms.
Strengths: "A commanding advocate who is utterly dedicated to getting the best result for his clients."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police in an inquest into the death of Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old man who died after being restrained by police in a mental health hospital.

JUNIORS

Clair Dobbin
Consistently involved in the most high-profile inquests and inquiries. She chiefly counsels state agents, including police forces and government departments, and also has experience serving as counsel to an inquiry. Her practice has a particular emphasis on inquests relating to prison and police custody deaths.
Strengths: "Her legal analysis is second to none, she has a brain like a razor and she is a superb cross-examiner. Coroners and juries love her. She is utterly charming, always courteous and helpful. A superb all-round lawyer." "Always willing to help, very, very good on detail and a prodigious work ethic. She is hugely experienced in public inquiries and that wealth of experience is of great benefit to clients."
Recent work: Led two of the investigations being carried out by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: the investigation into Cyril Smith and children's homes in the Rochdale area and the investigation into Lambeth children's homes.

Matthew Butt
Respected practitioner with a wide-ranging inquests and inquiries practice. He demonstrates notable strengths in proceedings concerning police conduct, clinical negligence and education. He specialises particularly in the representation of Silver Commanders in inquests relating to police firearms use. His capabilities also include advising on parallel disciplinary and criminal investigations.
Strengths: "He is very accessible." "He is good at drafting papers." "Matt has the ability to look at the scantiest of instructions and work out the issues."
Recent work: Represented Mark Kennedy, one of the core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford.

Saba Naqshbandi
Represents police forces in proceedings arising out of criminal investigations and deaths in custody. She is also instructed by businesses, hospitals, fire authorities and other parties involved in inquests.
Strengths: "She has an excellent manner with clients, a commanding presence and a nice style. Her attention to detail is first-rate and she is able to get up to speed very quickly. She is especially impressive when technical medical evidence is involved."
Recent work: Instructed by the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to the suicide by hanging of two cell mates in prison.

Sarah Le Fevre
Represents clients at all stages of the coronial process and in public law challenges arising from the conduct of inquest proceedings. Her expertise encompasses cases concerning health and safety law, police and hospital-related deaths.
Strengths: "She was confident, on the ball and judged submissions correctly." "She is very organised and efficient in court. She inspires huge confidence."
Recent work: Instructed to represent the MPS in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

Temple Garden Chambers fields "a number of people who are very distinguished in this field." The set boasts capabilities in almost all types of public inquiries and inquests, and has particular strengths in matters concerning national security, prison deaths and health and safety. Members are well known for representing government departments and also receive instructions from other state agents, regulators and businesses. They are also highly sought out to serve as counsel to public inquiries. Recently, members have been active in the Deepcut inquests, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the inquest into the Vauxhall helicopter crash.

Client service: "The clerks are willing to help." Dean Norton is the senior clerk.

SILKS

Keith Morton QC
A superb choice for handling inquests involving health and safety law, particularly in the context of aviation accidents. He represents regulators, businesses, individuals and bereaved families.
Strengths: "A very approachable QC who gets to the heart of complex matters quickly and puts lay clients at ease." "He's excellent. His manner is very down-to-earth and he is very easy to work with."
Recent work: Represented the Civil Aviation Authority in the inquest into the Shoreham air disaster, where a large number of bystanders were killed when an ex-military aircraft crashed onto a nearby road during the Shoreham Airshow.

Andrew O'Connor QC
Incredibly knowledgeable about inquests and public inquiries. He typically acts on behalf of state agents in highly publicised inquests of national and international significance. He is well versed in matters invoking national security. He is also adept at advising coroners when serving as counsel to the inquest or inquiry.
Strengths: "Extremely nice to work with, he has a very detailed knowledge of inquiries, is good with clients and has excellent judgement." "He can understand a vast amount of evidence in a very short amount of time." "He provides very practical advice in a non-patronising way."
Recent work: Represented the Foreign Secretary and other government interests at the inquests into the deaths of 30 British nationals killed in a mass shooting in Sousse, in Tunisia.

Robin Tam QC
Known for his broad practice, he represents a range of participants and routinely serves as counsel to the inquest or inquiry. He is frequently sought out by the UK government to appear in sensitive proceedings concerning national security. His inquests practice is complemented by strengths in human rights and administrative law.
Strengths: "He is a brain on a stick. If you need a clever point of law, he is the person you go to." "He commands the attention and confidence of the court."

Cathryn McGahey QC
Routinely instructed as counsel to large public inquiries and also demonstrates great aptitude when appearing on behalf of participants. She is a skilled representative of state agents in inquests, and has a particular focus on proceedings involving deaths in custody. She is developing a particular specialism in cases concerning child protection.
Strengths: "She has an extraordinary capacity to get on top of the details in a short amount of time." "She is a very impressive advocate and also a very decent person." "She is effective and extremely hard-working."
Recent work: Represented the Department of Education in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Charles David Barr QC
Receives instructions in a wide range of inquests and public inquiries and is particularly experienced at counselling chairs of public inquiries.
Strengths: "Extremely intelligent, personable and easy to work with." "Very calm, collected and motivated. He always manages to keep on top of a substantial amount of information."
Recent work: Acted as counsel to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

JUNIORS

Nicholas Moss
Often instructed as lead counsel on behalf of state agents in complex Article 2 inquests and public inquiries. He is particularly strong in inquests arising out of military and prison deaths.
Strengths: "I was just blown away by his masterful cross-examination." "He is very thorough and has the ability to ask the right questions in a short, concise way. He has the right effect on coroners and juries."
Recent work: Represented the Ministry of Defence in the fresh inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton at the Deepcut army barracks.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Garden Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

Garden Court Chambers' "passionate and committed" inquests team focuses on representing bereaved families. The team is particularly well versed in controversial Article 2 proceedings which involve scrutiny of state agents, including police and prison deaths. The set offers a full-service claimant representation which also includes handling related human rights claims and actions against the police. Clients "feel like the barristers are wholly on their side fighting their corner in what are often sensitive and unpopular cases." The set fielded a sizeable team in the recent inquest into the deaths of 96 football fans at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989. Other highlights include representing the families in the Alice Gross and Zane Gbangbola inquests, as well as advising core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Client service: "The clerks are very responsive, flexible on fees, timely and approachable." "It is a very professional chambers overall. The clerks are great, especially the senior clerk Phil Bampfylde."

SILKS

Leslie Thomas QC
Strong track record representing bereaved families in highly contentious inquests, including Article 2 proceedings. He has particular expertise in inquests that concern police conduct, such as deaths by police restraint and police shootings. He is also advises on related human rights and public law issues.
Strengths: "Leslie is one of the fiercest cross-examiners in civil trials and inquests." "He is great with clients, especially at building rapport with very difficult clients. They really listen to him and trust him." "His tenacity and determination is admirable."
Recent work: Instructed to act for the family in a high-profile inquest touching upon the death of an African-Caribbean autistic teenager who died in police custody, which sparked protests in London and Liverpool.

Brenda Campbell QC
Qualified to appear in inquests across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She typically acts for bereaved families in matters involving police conduct and state collusion. She has been particularly active handling legacy inquests arising out of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Strengths: "She is an impressive advocate. Her cross-examination is incisive and she has a style which suits juries."
Recent work: Instructed in the inquest into the death of Marian Brown, who was 17 years old when she was shot through the neck while walking home in June 1972 in Belfast.

JUNIORS

Sean Horstead
Represents bereaved families in highly publicised inquests. He has significant experience of inquests invoking Article 2 ECHR and is also capable of handling human rights damages claims arising out of inquests. His expertise involves inquests into deaths resulting from police conduct and deaths in prison custody.
Strengths: "He is a great advocate who is really on top of the facts and fantastic with the family of the client." "The family adored him and the jury were putty in his hands. He used to do criminal advocacy so he's got a really good jury style and a really good strategy of picking his points."
Recent work: Represented the family in an inquest concerning the death of the 15-year-old son of musician Nick Cave, who died of catastrophic head injuries after falling from cliffs near the family home in Brighton.

Kirsten Heaven
Has extensive experience of appearing in inquests, and has a particular focus on Article 2 proceedings concerning individuals in the care of the state who commit suicide. She routinely appears in inquests in both England and Wales.
Strengths: "She is very knowledgeable and able to cut through to the key points very quickly."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET

Serjeants' Inn Chambers has a good inquests team, consisting of expert silks and well-regarded juniors. Solicitors say the set has a "very good breadth of experience." The set is especially strong in inquests arising out of healthcare and police conduct. Members also advise on public inquiries as well as civil and disciplinary proceedings following on from inquests. Its client base includes police forces, healthcare professionals, NHS trusts, bereaved families and other interested parties. Barristers here also routinely advise coroners and serve as counsel to inquests. Recently, the set has been prominent in the renewed inquests into the controversial deaths of young soldiers at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey.

Client service: "Great clerking and service. They are very organised and the training they offer is great." Senior clerk Lee Johnson is "very easy to work with and very approachable. Also, he is responsive to problems."

SILKS

John Beggs QC
Standout silk who typically acts for police forces facing considerable scrutiny in highly publicised inquests, particularly Article 2 proceedings. He habitually advises on the adequacy of police investigations, as well as deaths resulting from actions or omissions made by the police. He also accepts instructions from bereaved families and is adept in public inquiries.
Strengths: "He is very clever and a good lawyer. He is a good, efficient cross-examiner and he is fearless so he won't be put off doing what he thinks is right by the fact that it is unpopular." "As a court advocate, his cross-examination skills are among the best I have ever seen."
Recent work: Represented Surrey Police in this second inquest concerning the death of Cheryl James, a trainee solider at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey, in November 1995.

Robert Francis QC
Has extensive experience of appearing in, and chairing, public inquiries. He is particularly adept at handling proceedings in the healthcare context. Recently, he has also been involved in matters involving police law.
Strengths: "A highly intelligent and very thoughtful man."
Recent work: Advised the National Police Chiefs Council in connection with the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Bridget Dolan QC
Highly regarded advocate who regularly appears in complex inquests, including proceedings invoking Article 2 of the ECHR. In addition to her experience representing bereaved families and state agents, she frequently serves as counsel to the inquest. She is recognised as an authority on coronial law and is becoming a go-to choice to defend coroners' decisions in judicial review proceedings.
Strengths: "She is technically excellent, really good with clients and fantastic in court."
Recent work: Counsel to the fresh inquest into the 1995 death of Cheryl James, who was one of four recruits found dead at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey.

Debra Powell QC
A popular junior who is frequently instructed in inquests concerning clinical negligence. She habitually represents bereaved families, healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and other state agents. She also has experience in Article 2 inquests involving police and prison deaths. Her broad practice also sees her regularly appearing in public inquiries.
Strengths: "She has a great deal of gravitas and is hugely respected. She is very thorough, detailed and balanced." "She is very measured and calm but also tough."

JUNIORS

Briony Ballard
Predominantly acts in inquests, including Article 2 proceedings, which involve clinical negligence. She routinely receives instructions from healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and bereaved families. She is also adept in Article 2 proceedings involving police and prison deaths and has significant experience of inquests involving issues of mental health.
Strengths: "She's very persuasive, her advocacy is very organised and she is someone that tribunals trust. Her submissions always come across as very reasoned." "She is a really supremely confident advocate."
Recent work: Represented the prison in-reach mental health services at the inquest into the death of a prisoner who had been found with possible ligatures on at least five previous occasions, and was on an ACCT, but no formal care plan was put in place.

Oliver Williamson
Highly regarded junior counsel who regularly represents police officers, healthcare professionals and NHS trusts in a broad range of inquests. He is also adept at handling parallel disciplinary claims and actions against the police. He receives considerable praise for his reasonable approach and sound judgement in highly controversial proceedings.
Strengths: "He is very calm and unflappable in a difficult environment. He's a very good advocate."

Paul Spencer
Well known for his handling of complex inquests arising out of health and social care. He receives instructions from NHS trusts, care homes, psychiatric hospitals, regulatory bodies, healthcare professionals and other parties. He is also capable of handling parallel disciplinary actions.
Strengths: "He gets to the heart of issues, he is very easy to deal with and he is able to advise clients very early on about all of the potential pitfalls." "Good, knowledgeable and experienced."

Cecily White
A notable junior who has experience acting in sensitive jury inquests, Article 2 cases and high-profile public inquiries. She represents NHS Trusts and police forces as well as families and professionals.
Strengths: "She is a very knowledgeable and impressive barrister." "She provides valuable advice and has extremely good interpersonal skills."
Recent work: Appeared on behalf of the widow in the inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy.

^ See whole ranking table

Senior Statesmen

Michael Mansfield QC

Nexus Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Michael Mansfield QC of Mansfield Chambers 
Renowned for his long history of appearing in high-profile inquests and public inquiries on behalf of bereaved families. He has a particular expertise in Article 2 proceedings scrutinising police conduct.
Strengths: "He is a complete inspiration to work with. He has such a strong track record in these sorts of cases and it is humbling to be led by him. He inspires trust and loyalty in the clients."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Fiona Barton QC
Brings her significant expertise in police law to her representation of police forces and officers in sensitive inquests and public inquiries. She also represents other state agents and is especially well versed in matters involving the criminal justice system.
Strengths: "She is extremely hard-working and has a very analytical mind. Also, she is very good with clients and very up to date on the current case law. She just exudes confidence."
Recent work: Acted for Surrey Police in the investigation into alleged abuse by members of the Anglican Church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jason Beer QC 
Established silk who habitually appears in highly publicised public inquiries and inquests. He handles matters involving police law, criminal justice, health and safety and public law. He typically acts on behalf of police forces and is also instructed by other core participants and as counsel to an inquiry.
Strengths: "He is massively knowledgeable about public inquiries." "He's an incredibly gifted advocate and is immensely hard-working." 
Recent work: Acted as lead counsel to the public inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger, who was shot by a firearms officer during a Greater Manchester Police covert investigation named Operation Shire.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

John Beggs QC 
Standout silk who typically acts for police forces facing considerable scrutiny in highly publicised inquests, particularly Article 2 proceedings. He habitually advises on the adequacy of police investigations, as well as deaths resulting from actions or omissions made by the police. He also accepts instructions from bereaved families and is adept in public inquiries.
Strengths: "He is very clever and a good lawyer. He is a good, efficient cross-examiner and he is fearless so he won't be put off doing what he thinks is right by the fact that it is unpopular." "As a court advocate, his cross-examination skills are among the best I have ever seen."
Recent work: Represented Surrey Police in this second inquest concerning the death of Cheryl James, a trainee solider at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey, in November 1995.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Hugh Davies QC 
Strong choice to represent individual police officers facing considerable scrutiny in inquests and public inquiries, often involving parallel professional discipline proceedings. He is especially experienced in inquests involving police shootings.
Strengths: "Extremely knowledgeable and his ability to assimilate large volumes of information in a short amount of time is unbelievable. He gets to grips with cases and is able to take on a much more holistic view. His drafting skills are A1 and to the point." "A highly impressive advocate. He rolls his sleeves up and has excellent judgement."
Recent work: Represented retired police officers associated with the investigation and prosecution of the Birmingham Six in relation to an application by the family of the deceased to resume the inquest.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Matrix Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers 
Well-known public inquiries specialist. He is capable of representing core participants as well as acting as counsel to the inquiry.
Strengths: "He is an astonishingly good advocate."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Jonathan Hough QC

4 New Square

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jonathan Hough QC of 4 New Square 
Recommended for his phenomenally deep knowledge of coronial law. He offers expert advice to coroners on all aspects of inquests and is regularly called upon to handle the most high-profile cases. He is also a strong choice to defend coronial decisions in judicial review proceedings.
Strengths: "A true expert in coronial proceedings. He is a barrister who has extensive experience of acting as counsel to the inquests. His written and oral submissions are impeccable. He's the man most coroners would want in their corner." "He very quickly understands any issue you put before him and he can think strategically on any point. He is a rare talent."
Recent work: Acted for the insurance company RSA in connection with the Accountability and Reparations aspect of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which will consider the extent to which the civil and criminal compensation procedures provide adequate redress to victims of abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Samantha Leek QC
Strong choice to represent coroners and state agents in sensitive public inquiries and inquests. She has particular expertise in inquests arising out of police shootings and deaths in prison.
Strengths: "A very good lawyer. She has probably forgotten more about inquests law than others will ever learn." "She has a great client manner and is very good at dealing with bereaved families." "She can master a brief and can jump from representing coroners to witnesses to interested parties. Not all barristers can do that. She is very good at putting on different hats."
Recent work: Represented Leicestershire Police in the Lord Janner investigation and Nottinghamshire Police in the Nottinghamshire care homes investigation as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Keith Morton QC 
A superb choice for handling inquests involving health and safety law, particularly in the context of aviation accidents. He represents regulators, businesses, individuals and bereaved families.
Strengths: "A very approachable QC who gets to the heart of complex matters quickly and puts lay clients at ease." "He's excellent. His manner is very down-to-earth and he is very easy to work with."
Recent work: Represented the Civil Aviation Authority in the inquest into the Shoreham air disaster, where a large number of bystanders were killed when an ex-military aircraft crashed onto a nearby road during the Shoreham Airshow.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Blackstone Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

James Eadie QC of Blackstone Chambers 
In his capacity as First Treasury Counsel, he regularly advises the UK government on complex legal issues which arise in the course of inquests and public inquiries. He also appears in public law claims that shape the boundaries of the law on inquests and inquiries. He is also involved in litigation about the decision to hold public inquiries, particularly in relation to state involvement in armed conflicts.
Strengths: "He has a huge amount of experience and a great feel for the area."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Patrick Gibbs QC

A

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Patrick Gibbs QC 
Strong track record of being instructed in the highest-profile inquests and inquiries, particularly where police conduct is under scrutiny. He is well suited to handling inquests which might result in criminal liability or disciplinary action. He routinely appears on behalf of all participants, including state agents and bereaved families.
Strengths: "He has enormous presence and commands respect from the Bench." "Clients like him, solicitors like him and he is very good in court."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Jeremy Johnson QC

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jeremy Johnson QC 
Renowned police law expert with significant experience representing police constables in sensitive inquests and public inquiries. He is sought out for very complex matters, usually involving parallel disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
Strengths: "It is his judgement that is very impressive, and also his demeanour. He also impresses with his knowledge and approach to cases."
Recent work: Represented the Chief Constable for West Midlands Police in the reopened inquests into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, which killed 21 people and injured 182 others.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Hugo Keith QC 
Habitually represents individuals, state agents and other participants in sensitive public inquiries and inquests, usually under considerable media attention. His broad expertise includes sensitive police law, terrorism and national security issues. As a renowned criminal silk, he is a particularly popular choice for inquests which involve parallel criminal proceedings.
Strengths: "He is very, very smart and very effective." "He is clear-sighted, articulate and capable."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Andrew O'Connor QC

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Andrew O'Connor QC 
Incredibly knowledgeable about inquests and public inquiries. He typically acts on behalf of state agents in highly publicised inquests of national and international significance. He is well versed in matters invoking national security. He is also adept at advising coroners when serving as counsel to the inquest or inquiry.
Strengths: "Extremely nice to work with, he has a very detailed knowledge of inquiries, is good with clients and has excellent judgement." "He can understand a vast amount of evidence in a very short amount of time." "He provides very practical advice in a non-patronising way."
Recent work: Represented the Foreign Secretary and other government interests at the inquests into the deaths of 30 British nationals killed in a mass shooting in Sousse, in Tunisia.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

3 Verulam Buildings

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Rory Phillips QC of 3 Verulam Buildings 
Extensive experience of large public inquiries and investigations. His recent instructions have concerned areas such as press regulation, financial services and national security. His experience includes representing core participants as well as serving as counsel to public inquiries and parliamentary commissions.
Strengths: "He is just a class act. In terms of strategic wisdom, he's one of the best in the business." "He has a strong intellect and is fiercely knowledgeable."
Recent work: Represented the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office as a core participant in the Anglican Church investigation being conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Garden Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Leslie Thomas QC 
Strong track record representing bereaved families in highly contentious inquests, including Article 2 proceedings. He has particular expertise in inquests that concern police conduct, such as deaths by police restraint and police shootings. He is also advises on related human rights and public law issues.
Strengths: "Leslie is one of the fiercest cross-examiners in civil trials and inquests." "He is great with clients, especially at building rapport with very difficult clients. They really listen to him and trust him." "His tenacity and determination is admirable."
Recent work: Instructed to act for the family in a high-profile inquest touching upon the death of an African-Caribbean autistic teenager who died in police custody, which sparked protests in London and Liverpool.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Charles David Barr QC

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Charles David Barr QC 
Receives instructions in a wide range of inquests and public inquiries and is particularly experienced at counselling chairs of public inquiries.
Strengths: "Extremely intelligent, personable and easy to work with." "Very calm, collected and motivated. He always manages to keep on top of a substantial amount of information."
Recent work: Acted as counsel to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Bridget Dolan QC 
Highly regarded advocate who regularly appears in complex inquests, including proceedings invoking Article 2 of the ECHR. In addition to her experience representing bereaved families and state agents, she frequently serves as counsel to the inquest. She is recognised as an authority on coronial law and is becoming a go-to choice to defend coroners' decisions in judicial review proceedings.
Strengths: "She is technically excellent, really good with clients and fantastic in court."
Recent work: Counsel to the fresh inquest into the 1995 death of Cheryl James, who was one of four recruits found dead at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Robert Francis QC

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Robert Francis QC 
Has extensive experience of appearing in, and chairing, public inquiries. He is particularly adept at handling proceedings in the healthcare context. Recently, he has also been involved in matters involving police law.
Strengths: "A highly intelligent and very thoughtful man."
Recent work: Advised the National Police Chiefs Council in connection with the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Danny Friedman QC

Matrix Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Danny Friedman QC of Matrix Chambers 
Brings his considerable expertise in human rights law to bear on public inquiries and inquests, including proceedings under Article 2 ECHR. He is often instructed in judicial reviews arising in the course of inquests.
Strengths: "He is an incredibly engaging advocate and his ability to make very clear and focused submissions is exceptional." 
Recent work: Instructed in the inquest into the death of a 17-year-old boy who concealed himself on a lorry that was ferry bound from Dunkirk and died trying to alight in Oxford. The issue is whether the common law and Article 2 requires an enhanced inquest to discover what occurred in the UK-controlled part of French territory.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

New Park Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Paul Greaney QC of New Park Court Chambers 
Brings his in-depth knowledge of criminal law to the inquests sphere. He receives considerable praise for his superb cross-examination and advocacy skills. He chiefly represents police officers but has recently been representing bereaved families in inquests.
Strengths: "A fantastic advocate." "His cross-examination and drafting were just a cut above others."
Recent work: Represented the rank and file officers of the Police Federation at the Hillsborough inquests.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

St Pauls Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Samuel Green QC of St Pauls Chambers 
Continues to focus on inquests and public inquiries following his recent move to St Pauls Chambers from New Park Court Chambers. His wide-ranging practice involves a particular focus on matters relating to police conduct and healthcare regulation.
Strengths: "He's very bright." "An excellent cross-examiner."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

39 Essex Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Eleanor Grey QC of 39 Essex Chambers 
Considerable experience of chairing and representing core participants in public inquiries. She has particular expertise of inquiries arising in the healthcare context.
Strengths: "A nice stylish advocate."
Recent work: Represented the Labour Party as a core participant in the Janner investigation module of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Nicholas Griffin QC

QEB Hollis Whiteman

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Nicholas Griffin QC of QEB Hollis Whiteman 
Regularly involved in significant public inquiries on behalf of participants and as counsel to the inquiry. He has also appeared as an expert witness in major public inquiries. His inquiries practice extends beyond England and includes significant instructions in Jersey and Northern Ireland.
Strengths: "He is extremely experienced in public inquiries and provides excellent advice." "He is practical and conscientious beyond belief. Also, he delivers and is pretty much unflappable."
Recent work: Instructed as an independent expert witness in the public inquiry investigating the abuse of children in Jersey's care system over many years, which was chaired by Frances Oldham QC.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Henrietta Hill QC

A

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Henrietta Hill QC 
Appears on behalf of bereaved families and other participants in high-profile inquests and inquiries scrutinising the actions and omissions of the state. She is also experienced in leading investigations as counsel to inquiries and inquests. She also offers expert advice to clients who are seeking to obtain an inquiry or inquest.
Strengths: "Excellent knowledge and analysis of in-depth facts and difficult legal points. She provides clear, concise advice and is an asset in any case she is instructed in."
Recent work: Instructed by Hermitage Capital in the inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, who is thought to have been poisoned for his role in exposing a massive Russian fraud.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Richard Horwell QC

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Richard Horwell QC 
Predominantly represents police forces in sensitive and politically charged public inquiries. He is also instructed by other state agents, including NHS trusts and educational institutions. He also advises clients in the aftermath of inquiries, offering guidance through the Maxwellisation process and assisting with the implementation of recommended reforms.
Strengths: "A commanding advocate who is utterly dedicated to getting the best result for his clients."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police in an inquest into the death of Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old man who died after being restrained by police in a mental health hospital.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

QEB Hollis Whiteman

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Tom Kark QC of QEB Hollis Whiteman 
Appears in a wide array of public inquiries and inquests, including matters related to healthcare, health and safety, and police conduct. His criminal law background means he is well suited to jury inquests.
Strengths: "He is a very good advocate, very calm, persuasive and really hard-working. He is really focused and diligent." "As an advocate, he is very fair, considered and articulate."
Recent work: Instructed on behalf of the Home Office as a core participant in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is investigating whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Jonathan Laidlaw QC

2 Hare Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jonathan Laidlaw QC of 2 Hare Court 
Experienced criminal and regulatory silk who is frequently instructed in significant inquests and public inquiries. He has considerable experience of inquests involving health and safety. He regularly advises businesses, regulators and inquiry chairs.
Strengths: "He has phenomenal client care and very good attention to detail. He is measured and makes himself available even though he is very busy. He instils confidence in the client." "Great natural talent and authority. A massive breadth of experience of crime and regulation to draw upon."
Recent work: Represented the Football Association in the long-running inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool FC supporters at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Cathryn McGahey QC

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Cathryn McGahey QC 
Routinely instructed as counsel to large public inquiries and also demonstrates great aptitude when appearing on behalf of participants. She is a skilled representative of state agents in inquests, and has a particular focus on proceedings involving deaths in custody. She is developing a particular specialism in cases concerning child protection.
Strengths: "She has an extraordinary capacity to get on top of the details in a short amount of time." "She is a very impressive advocate and also a very decent person." "She is effective and extremely hard-working."
Recent work: Represented the Department of Education in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

1 Crown Office Row

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Peter Skelton QC 
Frequently instructed as counsel to large inquests and inquiries which are often under considerable media scrutiny. He also routinely represents participants in inquests involving clinical negligence. He is also instructed to defend coronial decisions in judicial review proceedings.
Strengths: "Excellent to work with. He is very knowledgeable and provides clear accurate advice."
Recent work: Instructed in the accountability and reparation investigation for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Robin Tam QC 
Known for his broad practice, he represents a range of participants and routinely serves as counsel to the inquest or inquiry. He is frequently sought out by the UK government to appear in sensitive proceedings concerning national security. His inquests practice is complemented by strengths in human rights and administrative law.
Strengths: "He is a brain on a stick. If you need a clever point of law, he is the person you go to." "He commands the attention and confidence of the court."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Pete Weatherby QC

Garden Court North Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Pete Weatherby QC of Garden Court North 
Committed to representing bereaved families in high-profile inquests. He is particularly strong in inquests involving police conduct, including police shootings. He is also adept at judicial reviews involving coronial law.
Strengths: "He prepares well and has an attractive style of questioning that both the coroner and jury like." "He is excellent. A very sophisticated advocate."
Recent work: Represented the partner of Anthony Grainger in an inquiry into his shooting during a police operation in Warrington on 3 March 2012.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Heather Williams QC

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Heather Williams QC 
Draws on her substantial expertise in police law to represent bereaved families and victims of alleged misconduct in inquests and inquiries. Her experience also includes inquests arising out of clinical negligence, mental health and self-inflicted deaths. She also provides expert advice and representation to clients in related civil proceedings.
Strengths: "She is extremely hard-working and has incredible attention to detail. You never have to worry that she hasn't picked up on anything. On her feet, she has complete command over a room."
Recent work: Instructed in the Undercover Policing Inquiry on behalf of families who fear that the identities of their deceased children were misappropriated to form fake identities for undercover police officers. The hearings considered whether Article 8 ECHR creates an applicable duty on the Metropolitan Police to disclose which identities were used.

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

Simon Antrobus QC

Crown Office Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Simon Antrobus QC of Crown Office Chambers
Renowned health and safety specialist who has significant experience handling very high-profile inquests. He typically acts on behalf of commercial clients in inquests and in any related health and safety prosecutions.
Strengths: "He is really knowledgeable, careful, clever and a safe pair of hands."
Recent work: Acted for the owner of the property in an inquest related to a wedding where the friend and business partner of those getting married died together with an assistant helping him prepare fireworks for the event.

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

Brenda Campbell QC

Garden Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Brenda Campbell QC
Qualified to appear in inquests across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She typically acts for bereaved families in matters involving police conduct and state collusion. She has been particularly active handling legacy inquests arising out of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Strengths: "She is an impressive advocate. Her cross-examination is incisive and she has a style which suits juries."
Recent work: Instructed in the inquest into the death of Marian Brown, who was 17 years old when she was shot through the neck while walking home in June 1972 in Belfast.

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC

A

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC
Frequently appears for bereaved families in significant inquests that are often at the centre of broader social justice campaigns. She is particularly proficient in proceedings which scrutinise the adequacy of police investigations. Her significant public law expertise means she is a strong choice to appear in judicial reviews concerning coronial decisions and the scope of inquests.
Strengths: "An absolutely committed advocate." "She has a phenomenal work rate and is good in court."
Recent work: Acted for one of the bereaved families in the inquests into the deaths of 96 spectators following the tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Debra Powell QC 
A popular junior who is frequently instructed in inquests concerning clinical negligence. She habitually represents bereaved families, healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and other state agents. She also has experience in Article 2 inquests involving police and prison deaths. Her broad practice also sees her regularly appearing in public inquiries.
Strengths: "She has a great deal of gravitas and is hugely respected. She is very thorough, detailed and balanced." "She is very measured and calm but also tough."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Clair Dobbin 
Consistently involved in the most high-profile inquests and inquiries. She chiefly counsels state agents, including police forces and government departments, and also has experience serving as counsel to an inquiry. Her practice has a particular emphasis on inquests relating to prison and police custody deaths.
Strengths: "Her legal analysis is second to none, she has a brain like a razor and she is a superb cross-examiner. Coroners and juries love her. She is utterly charming, always courteous and helpful. A superb all-round lawyer." "Always willing to help, very, very good on detail and a prodigious work ethic. She is hugely experienced in public inquiries and that wealth of experience is of great benefit to clients."
Recent work: Led two of the investigations being carried out by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: the investigation into Cyril Smith and children's homes in the Rochdale area and the investigation into Lambeth children's homes.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Alison Hewitt 
Wide-ranging inquests and public inquiries practice. She is instructed by coroners and interested parties in matters involving police law, professional discipline and clinical and mental health. She also serves as the Senior Coroner for the City of London.
Strengths: "She has a complete grasp of the material, is technically very good and her advocacy is superb." "She is very knowledgeable about coronial law. An undoubtedly sound grasp of the law. Also, she is exceptionally user-friendly." 
Recent work: Acted for the Coroner for Surrey in an inquest into the death of a 7-year-old boy who died at his home as a result of toxic poisoning during a period of severe flooding.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

1 Crown Office Row

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Matthew Hill 
Strong track record of being instructed in very high-profile public inquiries and inquests. He is a go-to junior for coroners and inquiry chairs and also advises medical professionals, bereaved families and other core participants. His expertise also includes clinical negligence and professional discipline.
Strengths: "He is brilliant. He knows everything there is to know. He is very strategic, clear-minded and just a delightful person." "Very clever and very deft with how he approaches complex and sensitive issues." "He is extremely hard-working and comes up with incredibly creative solutions to any problem."
Recent work: Instructed as first junior counsel by the coroner in the renewed inquests into the deaths of 21 people killed as a result of the bombing of two busy pubs in Birmingham in 1974.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Temple Garden Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Nicholas Moss 
Often instructed as lead counsel on behalf of state agents in complex Article 2 inquests and public inquiries. He is particularly strong in inquests arising out of military and prison deaths.
Strengths: "I was just blown away by his masterful cross-examination." "He is very thorough and has the ability to ask the right questions in a short, concise way. He has the right effect on coroners and juries."
Recent work: Represented the Ministry of Defence in the fresh inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton at the Deepcut army barracks.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

1 Crown Office Row

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Neil Sheldon 
Habitually represents NHS trusts, healthcare professionals and other participants in complex inquests. His wide-ranging experience includes cases concerning the armed services, national security, healthcare and historic child abuse.
Strengths: "His skeleton arguments are impressive."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Adam Straw 
Strong track record of being instructed in major, high-profile inquests and inquiries, typically on behalf of bereaved families. He also frequently appears in public law proceedings and human rights litigation arising out of inquests and public inquiries. He receives considerable praise for his legal knowledge and admirable work ethic.
Strengths: "He is extremely insightful, perceptive and able to identify issues. He is calm and good with clients." "He is just such a nice person, incredibly bright and really brings a good energy to the work. He writes extremely well and is very clear."
Recent work: Represented the family of Mr Grainger, who was fatally shot by the police, in an inquest which was converted into a public inquiry because of the involvement of sensitive information.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Briony Ballard
Predominantly acts in inquests, including Article 2 proceedings, which involve clinical negligence. She routinely receives instructions from healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and bereaved families. She is also adept in Article 2 proceedings involving police and prison deaths and has significant experience of inquests involving issues of mental health.
Strengths: "She's very persuasive, her advocacy is very organised and she is someone that tribunals trust. Her submissions always come across as very reasoned." "She is a really supremely confident advocate."
Recent work: Represented the prison in-reach mental health services at the inquest into the death of a prisoner who had been found with possible ligatures on at least five previous occasions, and was on an ACCT, but no formal care plan was put in place.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Kate Beattie 
Well versed in inquests involving clinical negligence and mental health treatment. She is also experienced in public inquiries and capable of handling damages claims arising out of clinical negligence inquests.
Strengths: "She has a forensic approach to evidence, she is intelligent in her approach to strategy and her drafting is great." 
Recent work: Represented the family in the inquest into the death of Mohammed Hassan, who died following an incident with a lorry in Banbury.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Barnabas Branston

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Barnabas Branston 
Significant experience of inquests involving police conduct and deaths in custody. He is typically instructed on behalf of police forces and prison operators. He also accepts instructions involving the NHS.
Strengths: "He is an incredibly persuasive advocate and his written submissions are of an excellent standard." "He is a master strategist. He understands which points to fight for and which not to."
Recent work: Represented the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in an inquest which considered the adequacy of support given to an alleged rape victim who had a history of mental health issues and killed herself after reporting an incident of rape.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jude Bunting 
Has wide-reaching experience which includes inquests arising from deaths in prison, deaths in police custody and proceedings arising from the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He is particularly capable in inquests invoking Article 2 ECHR. His deep expertise in public and administrative law means he is well placed to advise on judicial reviews concerning coronial decisions.
Strengths: "He is a really good advocate. He is very good at charming judges and looks for bespoke legal arguments in factually complex cases." "He is very much on top of the law and facts and is very good with clients and other barristers."
Recent work: Represented Brigid Hughes in a judicial review challenging the lack of resources to allow for an inquest into the death of her husband, a civilian who was killed as he drove past an ambush on the IRA by the SAS in Loughgall, in Northern Ireland.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Matthew Butt 
Respected practitioner with a wide-ranging inquests and inquiries practice. He demonstrates notable strengths in proceedings concerning police conduct, clinical negligence and education. He specialises particularly in the representation of Silver Commanders in inquests relating to police firearms use. His capabilities also include advising on parallel disciplinary and criminal investigations.
Strengths: "He is very accessible." "He is good at drafting papers." "Matt has the ability to look at the scantiest of instructions and work out the issues."
Recent work: Represented Mark Kennedy, one of the core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Sophie Cartwright

Deans Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Sophie Cartwright of Deans Court Chambers 
Revered for her knowledge of coronial law. She frequently acts for interested parties, coroners and NGOs in inquests and judicial reviews which determine the boundaries of coronial law. She is capable across a broad range of subjects, including health and safety, police shootings, mental healthcare and other Article 2 inquests.
Strengths: "An encyclopaedic knowledge of law in the coronial and health and safety arena." "She is absolutely excellent. Very efficient, very easy to deal with and she won't be fazed no matter what you say to her. She approaches everything with a refreshing positivity."
Recent work: Counsel to the inquest into the shooting of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare by fellow G4S employee Daniel Fitzsimmons in Iraq, who had been deployed as a private security contractor without the proper checks.

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Band 3

Melanie Cumberland

6KBW College Hill

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Melanie Cumberland of 6KBW College Hill 
Appears in significant public inquiries and inquests involving national security and international relations. She typically acts for the UK government and other state agents. She is also adept at handling public law cases arising out of inquests and inquiries.
Strengths: "She is fantastic, has a lovely manner and is really good in court. Judges love her." "She is very hard-working and good at getting into the detail of a case."

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Band 3

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Alison Gerry 
Brings her deep expertise in human rights law to bear on her inquests practice. She typically acts in Article 2 proceedings which involve deaths in prison, police custody and mental health institutions. She also has experience representing core participants in public inquiries.
Strengths: "Really thorough and she can get to the nub of an issue very quickly and explain it." "She is very good on the details. She looks thoroughly into the evidence and her pleadings are excellent. She is very good on her feet cross-examining witnesses, and her analysis of the evidence and strengths of the case are also excellent."
Recent work: Represented the family of a man who was allowed to leave a hospital ward unaccompanied and unnoticed despite being at high risk of suicide.

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Band 3

Garden Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Sean Horstead 
Represents bereaved families in highly publicised inquests. He has significant experience of inquests invoking Article 2 ECHR and is also capable of handling human rights damages claims arising out of inquests. His expertise involves inquests into deaths resulting from police conduct and deaths in prison custody.
Strengths: "He is a great advocate who is really on top of the facts and fantastic with the family of the client." "The family adored him and the jury were putty in his hands. He used to do criminal advocacy so he's got a really good jury style and a really good strategy of picking his points."
Recent work: Represented the family in an inquest concerning the death of the 15-year-old son of musician Nick Cave, who died of catastrophic head injuries after falling from cliffs near the family home in Brighton.

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Band 3

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Sarah Le Fevre 
Represents clients at all stages of the coronial process and in public law challenges arising from the conduct of inquest proceedings. Her expertise encompasses cases concerning health and safety law, police and hospital-related deaths.
Strengths: "She was confident, on the ball and judged submissions correctly." "She is very organised and efficient in court. She inspires huge confidence."
Recent work: Instructed to represent the MPS in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

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Band 3

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Fiona Murphy 
Brings to the Bar her years of experience as a solicitor handling inquests and actions against the police. She predominantly advocates on behalf of bereaved families in a wide range of matters, with a particular emphasis on inquests touching on police conduct.
Strengths: "She is fantastic with clients and really knowledgeable." "She is incredibly thorough."
Recent work: Represented the family of a 21-year-old man who was caught in the crossfire between rival south London gangs at a funeral in 2011. This inquest examined failures in the sharing of information held by police, and in their risk assessments, planning and deployment of officers.

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Band 3

Saba Naqshbandi

A

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Saba Naqshbandi 
Represents police forces in proceedings arising out of criminal investigations and deaths in custody. She is also instructed by businesses, hospitals, fire authorities and other parties involved in inquests.
Strengths: "She has an excellent manner with clients, a commanding presence and a nice style. Her attention to detail is first-rate and she is able to get up to speed very quickly. She is especially impressive when technical medical evidence is involved."
Recent work: Instructed by the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to the suicide by hanging of two cell mates in prison.

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Band 3

Doughty Street Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jesse Nicholls 
Extremely well regarded for his detailed knowledge of inquests. He frequently acts on behalf of bereaved families in high-profile inquests, including Article 2 proceedings. He is particularly capable in inquests scrutinising police conduct and other actions of the state. He is also routinely instructed by families and NGOs in judicial reviews arising from inquests.
Strengths: "Inquests often involve very stressful and emotionally intense issues for the client but Jesse is able to handle that. He is fantastic with clients. Also, he knows the law incredibly well. He is never wrong-footed on the law, which is impressive in an intense environment. Also, he is an excellent advocate and he works incredibly hard."
Recent work: Acted for the family in a fresh inquest into the death of a junior soldier who died from five gunshot wounds to the chest at the Deepcut army barracks in 1995. This case considered evidence of a toxic environment of bullying at the barracks and questions about the adequacy of the police investigation into his death.

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Band 3

7BR

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

James Robottom of 7BR 
Broad inquests practice which includes matters relating to clinical negligence and mental health, prison deaths and health and safety law. He typically represents bereaved families in inquests and related civil proceedings.
Strengths: "He is realistic. He identifies the points that are worth pursuing and he is tenacious when questioning witnesses without ever alienating a jury. He is tenacious but fair, which gets him the answers he is looking for." 
Recent work: Represented the family of Mr Turner, a prisoner at HMP Doncaster, in an Article 2 jury inquest. Mr Turner suffered from severe peripheral arterial disease and his medical care in the community was not noted or continued once he went to prison.

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Band 3

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Paul Spencer 
Well known for his handling of complex inquests arising out of health and social care. He receives instructions from NHS trusts, care homes, psychiatric hospitals, regulatory bodies, healthcare professionals and other parties. He is also capable of handling parallel disciplinary actions.
Strengths: "He gets to the heart of issues, he is very easy to deal with and he is able to advise clients very early on about all of the potential pitfalls." "Good, knowledgeable and experienced."

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Band 3

Alexandra Tampakopoulos

2 Hare Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Alexandra Tampakopoulos of 2 Hare Court 
Highly sought after for complex inquests and inquiries, often involving an international aspect. She is also noted for her expertise in health and safety inquests. She represents all interested parties, including bereaved families, businesses, individuals and state agents.
Strengths: "She is very good with clients. She is well prepared for meetings and is very competent."
Recent work: Represented the family in a highly complex case concerning the death of a 7-year-old boy with severe liver disease and glycogen storage disease at King's College Hospital.

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Band 3

9 Gough Square

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Vincent Williams of 9 Gough Square 
Extensive experience of appearing in Article 2 inquests on behalf of police forces. He is also capable of acting for bereaved families in proceedings arising out of clinical negligence and health and safety.
Strengths: "He knows inquest procedure inside-out."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police Solicitors in an inquest into the death of a 14-year-old girl who was found to have been murdered by a builder who had previously been serving a prison sentence in Latvia for murdering his wife.

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Band 3

5 Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Georgina Wolfe 
Instructed in a broad range of public inquiries and inquests. Recent mandates include cases concerning police conduct, clinical negligence and prison deaths. She predominantly acts for state agents, including police forces, NHS trusts and government departments.
Strengths: "She is excellent. She has an incredible grasp of the documents, is excellent with the families and has a great grasp of the facts." "She is a really good advocate who doesn't make unnecessary points. She is extremely persuasive but in a very gentle manner."
Recent work: Instructed as senior junior for Leicestershire Police in the Lord Janner investigation and for Nottinghamshire Police in the Nottinghamshire care homes investigation, which are part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

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Up and Coming

Garden Court Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Kirsten Heaven 
Has extensive experience of appearing in inquests, and has a particular focus on Article 2 proceedings concerning individuals in the care of the state who commit suicide. She routinely appears in inquests in both England and Wales.
Strengths: "She is very knowledgeable and able to cut through to the key points very quickly."

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Up and Coming

2 Hare Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Nikita McNeill of 2 Hare Court 
Gaining prominence for her involvement in high-profile inquests and public inquiries. She is particularly active representing coroners and inquiry chairs. She is also adept in related criminal and disciplinary actions.
Strengths: "Her written work is first-class and she is very good at handling clients and providing proactive advice that helps clients see their way through the problems." "She is thorough and meticulous. She really gets to grips with the expert evidence." 
Recent work: Junior counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She was specifically involved in investigating the response of the Anglican Church to allegations of abuse, and also involved in the investigation into child sexual exploitation by organised networks.

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Up and Coming

Matrix Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Kirsten Sjovoll of Matrix Chambers 
Capable of acting in a wide range of Article 2 inquests, including clinical negligence and police conduct. She typically acts on behalf of bereaved families.
Strengths: "An incredible advocate who is very, very good with clients."

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Up and Coming

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Cecily White
A notable junior who has experience acting in sensitive jury inquests, Article 2 cases and high-profile public inquiries. She represents NHS Trusts and police forces as well as families and professionals.
Strengths: "She is a very knowledgeable and impressive barrister." "She provides valuable advice and has extremely good interpersonal skills."
Recent work: Appeared on behalf of the widow in the inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy.

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Up and Coming

Oliver Williamson

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Oliver Williamson 
Highly regarded junior counsel who regularly represents police officers, healthcare professionals and NHS trusts in a broad range of inquests. He is also adept at handling parallel disciplinary claims and actions against the police. He receives considerable praise for his reasonable approach and sound judgement in highly controversial proceedings.
Strengths: "He is very calm and unflappable in a difficult environment. He's a very good advocate."

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A

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