Doughty Street Chambers

Police Law: Mainly Claimant Department

All Circuits
Current View:

This content is provided by Chambers. Learn more about our methodology

Distinguished set for actions against the police comprising a formidable bench of skilled juniors and esteemed silks. The set represents claimants in the full range of police actions, as well as at public inquires and inquests. Members advise on cases concerning false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault, and are experienced in sensitive claims arising from deaths in custody or during other police contact. They also possess a strong command of the human rights implications of the failure to investigate, or the misuse of private information. The barristers continue to act at the forefront of the most significant and ground-breaking cases, including the John Worboys litigation, as well as the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the ongoing legal action surrounding the Hillsborough disaster and the death of Mark Duggan. Sources add: "The team really is second to none, and is always the first port of call for us. They are determined and committed to human rights, equality before the law and justice against the state, and are front runners in developing areas of law in the field of actions against the police."

Client service: "The clerking has always been excellent: they have always made substantial arrangements for us, showing a speed and adaptability that you don't often get." Senior practice manager Sian Wilkins leads the "very user-friendly and responsive" team that "works with you to achieve what you want."

Adam Straw
A leading police action and public law practitioner, well known for his work in relation to high-profile police shootings. He also handles claims concerning the national legislation for disclosure and miscarriages of justice. He is particulary notable for his strength in public inquiries.
Strengths: "His intellectual ability in this area of law is second to none, and his quality is superb." "He is a very good technical lawyer and is very good to work with. He is my go-to barrister."
Recent work: Represented the family of Mark Duggan in an ECtHR application against the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, concerning the conduct of the inquest into his fatal shooting in 2011.

Alex Gask
Focuses on claims concerning the breaches of Articles 2 and 3 ECHR, arising from the police's failure to investigate, or assault or death in the course of police contact. He has also been active in litigation relating to the undercover policing scandal.
Strengths: "He's an absolute pleasure to work with: very approachable, sensible, pragmatic and very hard-working." "Excellent forensic knowledge and application of the law, and takes a common-sense approach to advice. "
Recent work: Acted in claims brought before the Court of Appeal and the High Court by members of a political group infiltrated by an undercover police officer who then entered into sexual relationships with them, apparently for the purposes of obtaining information and undermining the group. These claims ran parallel to the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Alison Gerry
A skilled lawyer who is highly reputed for her work in failure to protect claims, in addition to police-focused inquests and judicial review. She attracts acclaim for her work on the long-running legal fallout of the Hillsborough disaster.
Strengths: "Exceptionally bright and has a fantastic ability to grasp and develop complex cases, often running novel legal arguments." "A very highly thought of and strategic advocate." "She has done a phenomenal job in bringing about change in the Metropolitan Police policy."

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC
Esteemed for her pioneering human rights work for children and women within the scope of police law. She is also notable for her work in the Hillsborough group litigation, and is active in judicial reviews concerning the retention and disclosure of criminal records.
Strengths: "She is a complete super-human: the amount of work she manages to do is extraordinary. Her commitment to her work is phenomenal and she takes a very collaborative and creative approach."
Recent work: Acted for the Independent Custody Visitors Association in providing a legal opinion to the Home Secretary, to the effect that the provision made for menstruating women who were detained in police cells was unlawful. The advice resulted in a change in the law.

Fiona Murphy  
Formerly a prominent claimant-side solicitor, known for leading national conversations on policing policy. She is regularly sought out to represent the families of those killed as a result of interaction with the police, including at inquests and public inquiries, and provides outstanding counsel in matters arising from areas such as IOPC procedure.
Strengths: "The person to go to for sound tactical advice. A determined and fearless advocate." "Fiona is highly competent and has incredibly detailed knowledge of police law and procedure."
Recent work: Represented the partner of Anthony Grainger at the public inquiry into his fatal shooting by Greater Manchester Police.

Heather Williams QC
A distinguished silk with an outstanding reputation in actions against the police. She is regularly instructed in the most high-profile cases in the country and is particularly well regarded for her work in the Hillsborough group claims and the Undercover Policing Inquiry, and related litigation. She is highly experienced in matters involving death in the course of police contact, and is highlighted for her work in police-related inquests.
Strengths: "Heather has encyclopaedic knowledge of the law relating to actions against the police, and commands considerable authority and respect from both opponents and the judiciary." "The authoritative voice on police law in this jurisdiction, and a brilliant legal mind." "The number one police action barrister in the country."
Recent work: Represented over 600 claimants in a civil claim against South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police, concerning the alleged police cover-up in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.

Henrietta Hill QC  
Hugely experienced in police actions, typically representing vulnerable clients, with a focus on issues such as miscarriages of justice, false imprisonment and disability discrimination.
Strengths: "A first-class litigator who is astute, has excellent attention to detail and is fantastic with clients." "Excellent at identifying legal issues and providing practical advice. She always goes the extra mile for clients and will put herself out to help and assist where possible." "A dream to work with: exceptionally bright and always three steps ahead."
Recent work: Acted in a claim for malicious prosecution, brought by a man whose conviction for attempted rape was overturned when DNA evidence finally identified the true culprit, after the claimant had spent 17 years in prison.

Jamie Burton
Well regarded for handling claims against the police concerning assault, unlawful disclosure of data, and failure to investigate. He is highlighted for his work in protest-related cases.
Strengths: "A strong all-rounder who is good with clients, very bright and a good advocate." "Jamie is very experienced and a good tactical lawyer. He is very good at grounding a claim and being realistic about what can be achieved."
Recent work: Represented the claimant in Gill v Merseyside Police, a case considering whether a claim for breach of Article 3 ECHR could be brought in respect of actions that took place before the Human Rights Act was enacted.

Jesse Nicholls  
An increasingly prominent figure in actions against the police. He is highly regarded for his work in cases relating to death during police contact, assault and police restraint, as well as claims alleging the failure to investigate or protect.
Strengths: "A complete star who has encyclopaedic knowledge of the law." "He is one of the most hard-working, intelligent barristers I have ever come across." "He is absolutely phenomenal: just super bright."
Recent work: Represented the family of Christine and Lucy Lee at the inquests into their deaths, after they were shot by Christine's partner John Lowe. The claim concerned Surrey Police's prior decision to return a seized shotgun to Lowe, a man who had a history of perpetrating domestic abuse.

Jude Bunting
Acclaimed for his all-encompassing police law practice that includes civil claims, inquests and public inquiries, as well as judicial review. He has particular strength in protest-related matters and frequently handles cases concerning deaths during police contact. He is also noted for his expertise in the media sector of civil liberties, and has been instructed by media organisations in the ongoing Undercover Policing Inquiry.
Strengths: "He combines an exceptional intellect with a down-to-earth approach, and is involved with every aspect of the case down to the smallest detail." "A delight to work with: super bright and meticulous, and an astounding advocate."
Recent work: Acted for the organisers of the London protest during Donald Trump's 2018 visit to the UK, in successfully persuading the Metropolitan Police to reverse its refusal to allow the use of a stage and sound system at the protest.

Nick Brown  
Has acted in a number of the most prominent police inquests in recent years, as well as related civil litigation.
Strengths: "He has amazing client care skills and work ethic. Nick is hugely knowledgeable and is my go-to counsel on police law." "An excellent black letter lawyer and a hugely intelligent barrister with a really analytical mind."
Recent work: Represented family members in the Hillsborough victims' misfeasance litigation, concerning the alleged cover-up perpetrated by West Midlands and South Yorkshire Police, in the aftermath of the disaster.

Nick Stanage
Acts in a range of actions against the police, including cases concerning malicious prosecution, misfeasance and unlawful arrest.
Strengths: "When you instruct him you know you are going to have the ear of the judge."

Ruth Brander  
A formidable barrister renowned for her work in claims against the police, as well as inquests and public inquiries. She has continued to be noted for her prominent involvement in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, and for acting in related judicial review. She boasts considerable expertise in Article 3 breaches concerning the police's failure to investigate, and a range of other claims including false imprisonment and assault.
Strengths: "She is absolutely fantastic and a real pleasure to work with. She is able to digest a huge amount of factual content in a very short space of time and identifies key issues arising. Brilliant with clients, and a very persuasive advocate." "A brilliant legal mind, with an incredible ability to recollect details of a matter spanning several years – particularly important in long-running cases. Able to deal with challenges of representing a broad and wide-ranging client base. Extremely hard-working and dedicated."
Recent work: Represented non-police and non-state core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Sam Jacobs
Successfully represents victims of police wrongdoing in a variety of claims, including those for false imprisonment and assault, and has acted in cases which closely examine the legal grounds for police liability in negligence.
Strengths: "His knowledge of the law is impressive and he is always very responsive. He's very good with clients and very relatable, and finds it easy to build a rapport." "Invariably calm and collected – unflappable! He is very reliable and always clear in his advice, which he communicates with ease and simplicity. He is reasonable yet robust in negotiations with opponents."
Recent work: Successfully established, subject to appeal, that a Nottinghamshire Police officer did owe a duty of care in negligence to a man who was imprisoned when the officer mistakenly identified paracetamol powder he was carrying as cocaine.

Stephen Cragg QC
Highly regarded for his work in civil claims and judicial reviews challenging police actions and decisions, particularly in relation to data retention and privacy. He also advises on inquests and claims relating to deaths in custody.
Strengths: "A real authority on retention of data and privacy issues." "As a former solicitor, he has a keen understanding of and empathy for solicitors."
Recent work: Acted in the judicial review brought by Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jenny Jones to challenge the Metropolitan Police's proposed permanent use of automatic facial recognition technology, arguing that it breached Article 8 ECHR and, initially, Article 6.