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A distinguished set that is "a powerhouse of criminal law expertise." It houses members who prosecute and defend all manner of criminal matters whether they be before the Crown Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court, some of which are sensitive cases that exercise public opinion. Individuals from the set were recently active in cases concerning an alleged IRA double agent and the UK’s first ever all-female terrorist cell. Those who instruct the chambers are attracted by its “highly skilled and dedicated” barristers, who combine "authoritative advocacy" with an “accommodating and understanding nature.”
Client service: “The clerking service is excellent, as the clerks work tirelessly to accommodate the instructions we provide.” Joe Martin, in particular, is highlighted as “absolutely brilliant” and “always proactive.” John Grimmer is the well-respected senior clerk of the set, and "a man in the front rank of the clerking world."
Strengths: "Meticulous, prepared and realistic." "He assimilates complex material quickly and has an impeccable manner with clients."
Strengths: “A pleasure to work with – he always gets straight to the issues with clarity and economy. He’s a very persuasive advocate.”
Strengths: “Highly sought after for his calm and collective approach which is never anything but measured. He is well received by clients, fellow professionals and the judiciary.” “He is meticulous in his preparation and presents his cases well before the court.”
Brian Altman QC
Pre-eminent silk whose experience as former First Senior Treasury Counsel cemented his status as a highly in-demand prosecutor of some of the most noteworthy murder and terrorism cases of recent years. He now boasts a flourishing defence practice and undertakes work in murder and drug trafficking cases among others. He is also noted for his skill in handling high-profile terrorism cases.
Strengths: “Brian’s attention to detail and mastery of the facts is second to none.”
Recent work: Secured a rarely granted retrial and the subsequent conviction of Russell Bishop for the notorious and high-profile murder of two 9-year-old girls in 1986.
Strengths: “Hardworking and talented – he is QC in waiting. He’s always approachable and clients love him, but he’s also straight-talking and not afraid to stand up to judges when required.”
Christine Agnew QC
A highly regarded silk with a vast criminal practice who prosecutes and defends the most serious crime matters such as murder, arson and burglary. She is well regarded by market sources for her excellent manner with clients, as well as for being a good tactician.
Strengths: "Amazing for high-profile cases. Christine is so approachable and personable, and she always delivers. I love the way she really breaks the trial right down. She deals with each step and each process so thoroughly.”
Recent work: Represented Fiona Onasanya, a sitting MP, charged with perverting the course of justice after a speeding offence.
Acclaimed criminal junior with a strong history of defending complex cases. He is particularly adept at handling privately funded criminal matters such as those involving homicide or firearms. He is also highlighted for his expertise in blackmail cases.
Strengths: "He is excellent. It is surprising he is not in silk given he is so good and so experienced. He is very smooth, and he gives clients a lot of confidence. Craig has a sharp mind and gets his head around the facts very quickly."
Recent work: Acted in R v Acre defending a mother who killed her seven-year-old son by strangling and drowning him. The jury accepted the rarely used defence of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Dean George QC
Strengths: “Absolutely brilliant – his attention to detail is very strong.”
Ian Stern QC
Strengths: “An Impressive advocate with a measured style and delicate touch who always makes the right decisions.” “He’s very smooth and has a lovely way with the jury. He’s always very persuasive, is incredibly hardworking and is thorough as a leader.”
Strengths: “Measured, authoritative and great with clients.” “A very good advocate with a great style.”
Jim Sturman QC
Specialises in defending high-profile individuals facing serious allegations and attracts high praise for both his client-handling skills and his presence in court. He often handles sexual offences cases such as indecent assault and serious violent criminal matters such as murder, assault and death by dangerous driving.
Strengths: “An incredibly hard-working barrister with a bedside manner that gives huge confidence to clients. He provides enormous support to instructing solicitors.”
Recent work: Appealed Lavinia Woodward’s non-custodial sentence for stabbing her former boyfriend at Oxford University.
Kieran Vaughan QC
A top silk and criminal law heavyweight who comes highly recommended due to his exceptional legal mind and effective jury advocacy. He has extensive experience in terrorism, homicide and sexual offences cases, and he is frequently instructed in matters of significant public interest.
Strengths: "He is clearly dedicated to his work and has excellent client care skills. His attention to the fine details is what sets him apart. What impresses is the amount of time he's prepared to spend in conference, going over the evidence. It just means the client is far better prepared for the demands of the trial."
Recent work: Defended Mina Dich who, alongside her two daughters, was accused of participating in the first ever all-female terrorist cell in the UK.
Louise Sweet QC
Strengths: “A determined advocate with an empathetic manner towards clients and juries alike. A silk to watch for the future.”
Mark Milliken-Smith QC
Frequently instructed in complex and high-profile serious crime cases and praised for his intellect, he is a barrister with particular expertise in defence work. He is recognised for his work in cases involving violent crime including gang violence, sex offences and murder. He also has extensive experience of handling serious fraud and regulatory matters.
Strengths: “Mark is very, very experienced and really fantastic with clients. He has excellent judgement and is very good with judges, as well.”
Strengths: “A very thorough and professional advocate who always works incredibly diligently to achieve the best possible outcome. His closing speeches are legendary.”
Richard Whittam QC
Former First Senior Treasury Counsel respected by commentators for his tenacity, work ethic and superior jury advocacy. He is a leading prosecutor who has acted in several significant cases including matters of terrorism and allegations of historic sexual abuse. Whittam has further experience of prosecuting both military cases and fraud matters.
Strengths: "He is a silk of great experience and confidence, who carries great weight in court and has natural."
Recent work: Defended Freddie Scappaticci, who was investigated in relation to his alleged involvement in murders as an Army ‘double agent’ embedded within the IRA.
Strengths: “He knows his cases inside out and is very good on his feet. He is adored by juries and admired by his peers, and is able to undermine prosecution expert witnesses before they have even seen it coming.” “He has an impressive work ethic and very good attention to detail. A go-to counsel for complex and difficult cases. He is an exceptionally eloquent and effective advocate, and his written work is exceptional.”
Stephen Vullo QC
Strengths: “Tactically superb and a very skilled advocate.” “Has a great grasp of expert evidence and knows how to cross-examine in difficult cases.” “A great advocate – he’s very personable and tenacious.”
Tracy Ayling QC
A focused criminal practitioner who both prosecutes and defends. In silk has handled some of the highest-profile serious sex and murder cases in the UK. By way of example, she appeared as leading defence counsel in Operation Bullfinch – a complex and widely reported case concerning an Oxford gang of Asian men grooming and abusing very young girls. She is well known for her specialist skill in the cross-examination of very young and vulnerable witnesses.
Strengths: “Tracy is a pleasure to deal with – efficient, responsive, diligent, intelligent and happy to assist those instructing her whenever possible.”
Recent work: Acted for a defendant in the ongoing Operation Silk, part of the overarching Operation Bullfinch.