Doughty Street Chambers

Inquests & Public Inquiries Department

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Sought after for the representation of bereaved families, victims and survivors. The barristers have recently acted in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. They represent families of the deceased in many of the most high-profile police, prison and mental health inquests, most notably those touching the Birmingham pub bombings, deaths at Deepcut Barracks and the death of Alexander Peripilichnyy. The set's barristers have also been instructed to represent the coroner in the Manchester Arena Bombing inquests. Solicitors describe Doughty Street as a "go-to chambers" which is "one of the best for inquests and civil rights."

Client service: "The clerking is very good; they have always been helpful." "The clerks are a really nice bunch of people. They're good to work with, very responsive to requests and able to muck in and help out." Chief executive Mark Dembovsky oversees clerking and Sian Wilkins is the senior civil practice manager.

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: "Adam has an intellectual ability in this area that's second to none. He has very fast turnaround, is totally reliable and the quality of his work is superb. You know he will produce something that's looking forward to change the law in a positive way." "Adam is so bright and his preparation is so meticulous. He knew the case better than anybody." "He has really solid knowledge and expertise, doesn't get flustered and takes everything in his stride."
Recent work: Acted for Hermitage in the inquest into the death of Russian businessman Alexander Perepilichnyy. Mr Perepilichnyy was assisting Hermitage in providing evidence about a major fraud against it implicating Russian officials, before he died unexpectedly.

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: "She's exceptionally bright and she has a fantastic ability to grasp and develop complex cases, often running novel legal arguments." "She is tenacious on behalf of the family and will persevere with a point, but doesn't play to the jury with bad ones. She is sensible and pleasant to deal with."
Recent work: Acted for a family member at the inquest into the death of Kirsty Walker while in custody at HMP Bronzefield. The inquest found multiple failings on the part of prison and healthcare staff, since Miss Walker was known to suffer from serious mental health leading her to frequent acts of self-harm.

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, particularly in issues such as anonymity orders. 
Strengths: "She is a very versatile advocate who's extremely academically strong and fights in a terrier-like way but also doesn't alienate the judge." "She's massively experienced and wrote a fabulous submission." "She's very cutting-edge and is great on contempt and anonymity issues."

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: "Phenomenal: a force of nature. Her output is second to nobody I've ever worked with and her understanding and commitment to the work is really high." "She is somebody who you have total confidence in because of her tactical awareness and her 'grit your teeth and get things done' attitude."

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 a remarkable advocate and has the ability to see all sides of an argument." "Heather has a good legal mind and makes calm, powerful, persuasive submissions." "She was extremely good, as ever. She's incredibly dedicated and thorough and will scour the immense amounts of disclosure to find what's relevant and take sensible points."
Recent work: Appeared on behalf of the families of three of the deceased at the resumed inquests into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.

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: "Supremely good. She's tenacious and as tough as old boots." "She fights her corner ferociously inside court and is just fantastically well prepared - she always has everything at her fingertips." "She has encyclopaedic knowledge and a great ability to read the court and the mood of the coroner. She's not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get stuck into the detail and is an absolute delight to work with."
Recent work: Instructed as deputy counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, including leading in the Children Outside the UK, Custodial Institutions, and Child Sexual Exploitation by Networks investigations.

Jesse Nicholls
Extremely well regarded for his detailed knowledge of inquests, as well as the experience of acting in key public inquiries. 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, and is also routinely instructed by families and NGOs in judicial reviews arising from inquests. 
Strengths: "He has incredible legal knowledge and is a dream of a barrister because he always focuses on the client and their wishes, making them central to the process." "He's always sensitive and makes you think about how you're approaching things. He takes instructions on board and comes back quickly with advice." "When you ask for his advice, you know he will consider things you haven't, think outside the box and add real value."
Recent work: Acted for the family of Sean Benton at the fresh inquest touching his death at Deepcut Barracks.

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, as well as public inquiries scrutinising the actions of the police. His deep expertise in public and administrative law means he is also well placed to advise on judicial reviews concerning coronial decisions.
Strengths: "Jude is always up for a fight on a case and works incredibly hard." "He's a versatile advocate and an exceptional lawyer who writes fantastic submissions and has a really good core craft of handling judges." "He's a very bright advocate who has a lovely manner in court, and he doesn't take bad points."
Recent work: Instructed by the BBC and The Guardian to represent their interests in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, particularly in relation to the controversial issue of the anonymity of participants.

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. She has attracted attention for her instructions as counsel to the inquest or inquiry.
Strengths: "She's a very clever barrister who gets to the point immediately." "She's got a lot of experience in the field and knows her stuff." "She's remarkable: her analysis was superb."