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A prominent specialist defence set feted for its capabilities in high-profile criminal cases encompassing serious sexual offences, homicide and terrorism amongst others. Its members are respected for their work in novel, unprecedented and complex cases, including stalking campaigns and digital fraud. Individuals at the set recently acted in R v Joseph Rooney, the biggest modern slavery case in the UK. Solicitors describe the set as “deserving of its fine reputation" due to its “effortlessly efficient” barristers, who possess an “outstanding work ethic.”
Client service: “The clerks are intelligent, friendly, and quick to respond.” Guy Williams, director of clerking, and Emma Makepeace, the deputy director of clerking, are commended for running a “slick operation”. Senior practice clerk Alfie Lee is also praised for being insightful and highly reliable, personifying “everything a modern clerk should be.”
Adrian Eissa QC
Strengths: "Gregarious, razor-sharp and incredibly hard working."
An excellent junior who attracts praise from market observers for her handling of factually sensitive and emotive cases. She focuses her practice on all areas of serious crime and has particular expertise in sexual offences and domestic violence cases. Byrnes has recently been instructed in serious criminal cases including those relating to historic abuse, grievous bodily harm and child abduction. Market sources praise her for being "thorough, meticulous and very tactical."
Strengths: “Aisling is in a league of her own when it comes to her extraordinary efficiency, attention to detail, and determination. Her advocacy commands the attention of everyone in the courtroom. She is very authoritative, yet able to cross-examine witnesses in a manner which juries find attractive.” "The best of a new breed of advocates in sexual offence cases – she's as hard as nails and determined, but calm and assured with clients."
Recent work: Represented Jessica Nordquist, a 26-year-old US national, on widely publicised charges of stalking her British former boyfriend, sending malicious communications and perverting the course of justice.
A highly experienced, trusted junior who engages exclusively in criminal defence cases, especially those relating to serious violence such as murder, attempted murder and armed robbery. Gang-related crimes in particular have become a feature of her recent practice.
Strengths: “Hard-working, very resolute and someone who stands her ground. She presents her cases strongly, has a good rapport with the jury and makes very good tactical decisions.” “Clients love her as she is hugely committed to their cause. She can pick up any case and do it with great skill.”
Recent work: Successfully defended Irasto Yoxall. His was the fourth in a series of five major trials at Maidstone Crown Court dealing with a large-scale robbery attack on a Traveller site in Kent involving guns and knives.
A sought-after junior who acts exclusively as a criminal defence advocate and adviser in murder, large-scale fraud and serious organised crime cases. He also frequently defends UK nationals charged with criminal offences in other jurisdictions. Smitten mainly accepts privately funded cases unless the matter is of public importance, such as the inquest and criminal proceedings arising from the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
Strengths: “His detailed preparation on cases is exceptional. He quickly gets up to speed with exceptionally complex cases.”
Recent work: Acted in Allseas v PS – the largest ever private prosecution of an individual charged with a conspiracy to defraud a company of EUR100 million.
Courtenay Griffiths QC
A highly regarded silk with an impressive practice spanning both domestic and international criminal law. He is an expert in serious violent crime matters and has handled numerous homicide and terrorism cases. Interviewees praise him for his tactical ability when handling serious cases and note his reputation in dealing with joint enterprise murder cases.
Strengths: "He was charismatic with the jury and held their attention throughout. Even during evidence that concerned other defendants, jurors would look at Courtenay to gauge his reaction. I saw him cross-examine a difficult witness and it was a master class in how to get helpful information out of a witness who is hostile to you."
Recent work: Acted in R v Keil Bryan, appearing for the principal defendant in an eight-handed case which concerned the random shooting of a 23-year-old victim as he sat in his car outside his sister's engagement party.
A well-respected junior who is often instructed in crime and regulatory matters. He has experience of handling serious crime cases such as murder, theft and drug-related matters.
Strengths: "David is feisty, tenacious and articulate. He will fight points persuasively and is an excellent jury advocate." “A rising star within his chambers.”
Recent work: Successfully defended a retired GP charged with attempting to hire a hitman to kill his financial adviser, whom he held partially responsible for losing £1 million of his pension fund.
Strengths: "A very talented advocate, whose client care skills are fantastic. He is a natural advocate, who is smooth with the jury and in closing speeches. His court presence automatically commands the attention of those around him."
Strengths: "My first choice when it comes to violent crime and cases where a difficult witness needs strong and effective cross-examination. Her attention to detail more often than not results in her client's acquittal."
George Carter-Stephenson QC
A well-regarded silk who specialises as a defence advocate in criminal, regulatory and fraud matters. He has vast experience across a broad spectrum of criminal matters, including complex murder and conspiracy to commit murder cases.
Strengths: "Probably the hardest-working silk in the market, and this shows in the results he achieves." “He is very approachable and this puts clients at ease.”
Recent work: Represented Mohamed Hassan in a murder case involving the stabbing to death of a drug dealer in West London. The murder was one of eight notorious stabbings in one week in London in March 2018.
Jeremy Dein QC
An incredibly capable defence practitioner who specialises in serious matters including murder, terrorism and organised crime. He is often entrusted with high-profile cases that have attracted significant media attention, including the 'shopping trolley killing'. Dein has significant appellate experience.
Strengths: “A very bright and respected advocate with a growing reputation in the Court of Appeal.” "He is very diligent and very capable."
Recent work: Represented former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson against a contempt of court finding.
Jo Sidhu QC
Strengths: "A master of closing speeches and often instructed in difficult homicide cases." "A great jury advocate and extremely eloquent."
John Cooper QC
Strengths: "A tremendous speechmaker and a great jury advocate."
Strengths: "One of the leading juniors on circuit, and has the finest mind for strategy and preparation, whilst always maintaining calm."
Strengths: "A rising star. She is a very good advocate who gives very strong support to her solicitors."
Melanie Simpson QC
Strengths: "An experienced advocate who is very jury friendly. She grasps from the outset where the problems lie ahead for her clients and I believe she is one of the strongest advocates for serious crime that the Bar has to offer."
Strengths: "A thoroughly excellent lawyer, who is very calm and steady, and who presents cases in an attractive way." "The epitome of the easy going and extremely high performing barrister: gregarious, pragmatic and wired to win."
Nicola Howard QC
Strengths: "Her tactical awareness is fantastic. She is proactive in preparing her client's defence and wonderful on disclosure issues."
Strengths: "A great advocate, whose client bedside manner is brilliant. He is liked by the jury and completes excellent written work. Osman doesn't let a point go and continues to fight until the end."
Paul Hynes QC
Regularly instructed in very serious, complex and high-profile criminal matters. He focuses his practice on criminal defence and regularly appears in heavyweight crime cases including those relating to terrorism, firearms and violent criminal offences.
Strengths: "Paul is a courteous, engaging and extremely talented advocate with an amazing memory for detail. His cross-examination style is formidable but still extremely jury-friendly. He is able to refer confidently and accurately to the evidence that has been given without looking at any notes."
Recent work: Appeared in R v Mohammed Alamgir and Others, appearing as leading counsel for multiple appellants in an Islamic State (IS) terrorist case.
Paul Keleher QC
A silk highly experienced in all areas of crime, including in cases relating to terrorism, drug trafficking, fraud, serious violence and sexual abuse. Well known for securing Hugh Doyle’s acquittal of any involvement in the conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the Hatton Garden burglary, Keleher is also respected as an advocate who is “great on disclosure issues.” He is regularly involved in efforts to advance the digitisation of the criminal justice system.
Strengths: “A very understated but effective advocate who works in a quiet and inscrutable way. He's a good, thoughtful tactician.” “Paul is unafraid to take tricky and challenging legal points and rapidly brings great clarity to complex legal issues.”
Recent work: Defended Anisoara Lautaru, accused of people trafficking for the purposes of prostitution. Insistent interventions by the defence resulted in a large amount of material casting significant doubt on the complainant’s account being belatedly disclosed by the CPS.
Paul Mendelle QC
Respected and impressive silk with extensive experience of the most serious and high-profile criminal cases. He has handled numerous murder cases, including those relating to gangland warfare, and has also played a significant part in Operation Elveden. Market sources say he is "a personable, effective communicator" who "when instructed in a case gives one hundred per cent."
Strengths: "Legally, he's like a lecturer on law – so precise and incisive. No words are wasted when he talks. Quick on his feet and tactically astute, he's an exceptional defence advocate."
Recent work: Defended Ryan Kennedy who was charged with various offences arising from his alleged fraudulent obtaining of Bitcoins to the value of £1.4 million from two companies under his control. This was the first prosecution in the UK involving cryptocurrency.
Peter Doyle QC
Strengths: "A class act who leaves no stone unturned and whom clients and juries love."
Rudi Fortson QC
Strengths: "Watching Rudi in court is very much like watching a genius at work. His level of intelligence is frankly astounding: he is able to assimilate and present complex legal arguments with ease. Both his written work and advocacy skills are highly admirable. He has a good manner and is extremely personable." "The more complex it gets, the more rewarding it is to have him on board."
Strengths: "Good with clients, tactically aware and a talented advocate." "He was extremely hard working and thorough and was on top of all of the relevant issues in the trial."
Tyrone Smith QC
Strengths: "Skilled, tactical and approachable in manner. He commands the respect of judges and has a real court presence." "Authoritative advocacy and excellent client-handling skills."