5 Essex Court

Inquests & Public Inquiries Department

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Remains one of the most esteemed sets in the area. Its barristers have recently been instructed in the Manchester Arena bombing, London Bridge, Westminster Bridge and Poppi Worthington inquests and the Grenfell Tower, Magnox and Anthony Grainger Inquiries, to name but a few. It is described by solicitors as "the leading police law chambers, with a strength and depth of specialists who provide accurate, speedy advice and support." In addition, the barristers are also highly sought after to represent a variety of other interested parties and core participants, including fire and ambulance services, healthcare providers, governmental bodies and prisons.

Client service: "The clerks are very helpful and efficient. It often feels as if chambers is going out of its way to assist, which is very reassuring." "They are very efficient, accommodating, and reliable." Mark Waller is the senior clerk.

Aaron Moss
Impresses peers with his advocacy and in-depth knowledge of inquests and public inquiries involving the police, terrorism and national security. He is regularly instructed by coroners as junior counsel to some of the more high-profile and sensitive inquests, and also acts for police forces and individual officers.
Strengths: "He is absolutely fantastic and - mark my words - will end up as a leading silk in this area. He's a terrific lawyer and a very good advocate who has fantastic judgement." "He knew everything about the case and cut a very impressive figure in it. He'll rise through the ranks very quickly."
Recent work: Instructed as sole junior counsel to the inquests into the terror attack at Westminster Bridge.

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 and routinely represents coroners in public law challenges.
Strengths: "A fantastic coronial lawyer. She has become the go-to for coroners and is a good cross-examiner and real delight to work with in a case." "Alison is a true inquest specialist and very good counsel to the inquiry. She's steeped in the law and has a diplomatic touch in dealing with the role."
Recent work: Acted as counsel to the coroner at the inquest into the death of Terrence Smith, a young man who had been suffering from drug-induced delirium, a medical emergency when he died after prolonged restraint in police custody without receiving medical attention.

Anne Studd QC
An experienced barrister offering considerable expertise in matters involving the police. She is regularly instructed in inquests and high-profile public inquiries involving police investigations and operations. She also handles some of the most controversial healthcare-related inquests.
Strengths: "She has the ability to quickly grasp and understand complex issues and provide timely and comprehensive advice. She also has an excellent court room manner."
Recent work: Appeared for the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in inquests into the deaths of ten people after treatment by an allegedly 'rogue' cancer surgeon who, it was argued, was dismissed too late by the Trust.

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's friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, responsive and well liked by clients."
Recent work: Acted for Staffordshire Constabulary at a jury inquest into the death of Adrian MacDonald, who died after being Tasered while he was exhibiting symptoms of acute behavioural disorder due to taking cocaine.

Bilal Rawat
Regularly instructed in a wide array of inquests and public inquiries. He is particularly well regarded for his handling of matters involving death in prison or police custody. He is also noted for his considerable expertise in acting as counsel to the inquiry.
Strengths: "He was very sympathetic with our clients and impressed me in his dealing with the evidence in the hearing. He had excellent command of case papers which were voluminous and both factually and legally complex." "I'm really impressed with how he dealt with difficult, emotional matters in a pleasant, balanced and accessible way." "He's meticulous, and he has the ability to handle a very large amount of evidence and make sense of it, which is no mean feat."
Recent work: Appeared as part of the counsel team to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, most notably in adducing evidence given by survivors of the fire and the bereaved, and expert testimony relating to the evacuation of the building and the toxicological effects of the smoke and gases.

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 showed really good judgement about how best to protect the client while not irritating the judge." "Very subtle in her advocacy. She doesn't go hell for leather nor does she make excuses."
Recent work: Acted for the City of London Police at the inquests into the deaths of victims and attackers on London Bridge and in Borough Market in 2017.

Francesca Whitelaw
Is instructed by government and the police to represent their interests in many inquests which attract the attention of the national press, and which relate to serious acts of terrorism, or scrutinise the actions of police officers and other public agents.
Strengths: "She has stood out for the constructive assistance she has provided to the court." "She will develop a prominent practice in the coming years. She quickly gets on top of a case and is thoroughly prepared in complex, multi-handed inquests."
Recent work: Represented the Home Secretary at the London Bridge and Borough Market inquests.

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: "Doesn't miss a beat in terms of evidence." "She's an able, bright, delightful person and a pleasure to work with. I can't speak highly enough of her." "She's very well prepared, easy to work with and determined. She's good at thinking about all the players in the hearing, including the coroner, jury and media, and is very tactful."
Recent work: Acted for the MOD at the fresh inquest into the death of Geoff Gray, one of the privates who died at Deepcut Barracks in 2001.

Jason Beer QC
A true trailblazer in the field of public inquiries: having penned the seminal text on the subject he continues to pick up a plethora of key instructions in many of the most prominent inquiries undertaken, acting as counsel to the inquiry or for the police, government agencies and others.
Strengths: "He's been through everything that can possibly come up in the course of an inquiry and has so much experience to draw upon." "He's a consummate professional and leader for inquest work, who's amazing on his feet." "He has an exceptional legal mind and is very strategic about the way he approaches cases."
Recent work: Instructed as lead counsel to the inquiry investigating the fatal shooting of Anthony Grainger by Greater Manchester Police officers in the course of Operation Shire, in 2012.

Jonathan Dixey
Routinely instructed by government departments, police forces and other public bodies in inquests and public inquiries. He also acts for coroners and individual police officers and medical professionals.
Strengths: "He's hard-working, bright and acts completely appropriately in terms of asking questions that best protect his client."
Recent work: Instructed by the Home Office to advise on its witness statements and disclosure to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Samantha Leek QC
Strong choice to represent coroners and state agents in sensitive inquests. She has particular expertise in inquests arising out of police shootings and deaths in prison. She also represents institutions as central core participants in high-profile public inquiries.
Strengths: "She is a superb courtroom performer and a real specialist in inquests and inquiries." "She's tough when she needs to be but also very sensible." "She's great at focusing on what's really relevant." 
Recent work: Appeared in five of the investigations in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, separately representing the Department of Health, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Chief Constables of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire.