Garden Court Chambers

Inquests & Public Inquiries Department

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Highly regarded for representing bereaved families and victims in public inquiries and inquests, particularly those with police, prison services or governmental entities as interested parties. Recent instructions have included the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Ballymurphy inquest, Undercover Policing Inquiry, Carl Sargeant inquest and the Birmingham and Guildford pub bombing inquests. Instructing solicitors laud Garden Court as a "committed set which understands the ethos of our firm and is always helpful."

Client service: "The chambers' clerks are very efficient." "They are very quick to get back to us and try to be as accommodating as they can." "Their clerking is sharp, and demonstrates concern for the barristers." Colin Cook is the director of clerking.

Brenda Campbell QC
Qualified to appear in inquests across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. She typically acts for bereaved families in matters involving police conduct and state collusion. She has been particularly active handling legacy inquests arising out of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Strengths: "She understands the concerns of her client, gets the brief quickly and encourages collaborative working. She makes connections that others might not see and thinks ahead in terms of satellite litigation." "She's hard-working, thorough and astute and is a standout barrister in her grasp of the law and facts." "You don't want to be on the wrong end of her examination. She doesn't take bad points or overdramatise, she just does a very good, forensic job."
Recent work: Acted for the family of one of the soldiers killed in the 1974 Guildford pub bombing, in a successful application to reopen inquest proceedings.

Ifeanyi Odogwu
Specialises in representing family members at inquests into the deaths of loved ones during police custody and restraint, or as a result of police shootings. He has an impressive track record of appearances in Article 2 jury inquests for his call, and has also brought several judicial review challenges to coroners' decisions.
Strengths: "He's a deadly cross-examiner: a smiling assassin. He does it by being charming and making what he's saying seem like effortless common sense." "He's great at cross-examining difficult witnesses and carries a lot of authority in court." "He always has an excellent client manner: he involves clients in strategy and makes sure they understand what's going on."
Recent work: Represented the family at the inquest into the death of Andrew Hall following his restraint by the police and in hospital. The case attracted the attention of the Black Lives Matter and INQUEST campaign groups.

Kirsten Heaven
Has extensive experience of appearing in inquests, and has a particular focus on Article 2 proceedings concerning individuals in the care of the state who take their own lives. She routinely appears in inquests in both England and Wales. 
Strengths: "She is an incredibly experienced specialist in inquest work for families." "She's a very persuasive advocate, who is quick at getting on top of the facts and is very easy to work with." "She has lots of experience and is really good with clients as well."
Recent work: Acted for the family at the inquest into the death of Michaela Sweeting, who died in custody when she was supposed to be under constant supervision while undergoing drug addiction treatment in prison. The jury returned a verdict of neglect.

Leslie Thomas QC
Strong track record representing bereaved families in highly contentious inquests and major public inquiries, including Article 2 proceedings. He has particular expertise in inquests that concern police conduct, such as deaths by police restraint and police shootings. He also advises on related human rights and public law issues.
Strengths: "He's ferocious and fearless for clients and often gets good results for them." "He has a great analytical and forensic mind. He's great with distressed clients and lethal in his cross-examination of state agents." "He's got the guts to shake the tree in circumstances where a lot wouldn't: he doesn't bat an eyelid."
Recent work: Instructed in the Birmingham pub bombing inquests for 11 families of the deceased.

Sean Horstead
Represents bereaved families in highly publicised inquests. He has significant experience of inquests invoking Article 2 ECHR and is also capable of handling human rights damages claims arising out of inquests. His expertise involves inquests into deaths resulting from police conduct and deaths in prison custody. 
Strengths: "He can bring his work as a coroner into play in his advocacy, which gives him particular insight. He's very well prepared and has a good grasp of the underlying papers." "I trust his opinion and he's an excellent lawyer."
Recent work: Acted for the family of Deirdre Harvey at the Article 2 inquest into her suicide while detained as a psychiatric patient.

Tom Stoate
Praised by commentators for his representation of bereaved families at death in custody and mental health-related inquests, as well as those emanating from acts of terrorism.
Strengths: "It's difficult to find counsel with his mix of intellect and ability to be clear and forceful. His background in crime helps clients feel confident in his representation of them." "He's an affable person to work with, knows the law very well and is adept at the more forensic side." "He's good on his feet and engaging with the jury. He's very passionate about the case and supporting his clients, but also has a practical and pragmatic approach."
Recent work: Acted for a number of bereaved families at the inquests into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.