Barrister profile for UK Bar 2022
Chambers Research is conducted by 200 Research Analysts, across 200 jurisdictions and provides nearly 6,000 rankings tables. Annually we collect hundreds of thousands of responses from clients, the majority via in-depth interview. Learn more about our methodology.
Crime - London (Bar)
Joint head of chambers Brian Altman QC is a leading counsel on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. His general crime practice comprises high-profile murder cases and terrorism work, as well as fraud matters. He also has particular expertise in dealing with police officer and misconduct cases.
Strengths: "He is always on top of the facts and brilliant in his lateral thinking. His advocacy is second to none in terms of the way he cross-examines and conveys his points." "Brian makes himself available and brings a lot of gravitas to the case." "So hard-working, he understands the issues and gets to the point."
Recent work: Acted in R v Bowers, Long, Cole & King, the case of PC Andrew Harper, who was killed near Reading in August 2019 while on duty by being dragged behind a car for over a mile.
Inquests & Public Inquiries - London (Bar)
Brian Altman QC is a stalwart of the criminal Bar who has attracted significant attention and commendation for his work at the helm of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
Strengths: "He is a force of nature. He is extremely driven and hard-working." "He brings all the forensic ability of one of the great criminal practitioners into the inquest arena."
Recent work: Continued to act as lead counsel in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
This content is provided by Brian Altman QC
Brian's specialisms are in white collar crime, business investigations, as well as regulatory work. His practice has included advising high net worth individuals, multinational corporations, private clients, here and abroad, Middle Eastern royalty and the UK Government, on a wide variety of esoteric issues, as well as conducting internal reviews and investigations.
In the spring of 2021, Brian was appointed as lead counsel to the Brook House Inquiry which is investigating the mistreatment of formerly detained persons at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre then run by G4S, which was exposed by the BBC's Panorama programme in September 2017. Phase 1 of the inquiry hearings commence in November 2021 with Phase 2 due to commence in February 2022.
In January 2017, Brian was appointed lead counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and led in the Inquiry's Rochdale investigation in 2017 which involved examining institutional failures regarding allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Sir Cyril Smith MP. He led in the 2019 Westminster investigation which examined institutional failures regarding allegations of child sexual abuse made against people of public prominence linked to Westminster. He was also lead counsel to the 2019 investigation into wider issues regarding the Roman Catholic Church and in the 2020 investigation into institutional responses concerning allegations of child sexual abuse made against Lord Janner of Braunstone QC. He also led the investigation into Effective Leadership in Child Protection which took place in late 2020.
First instructed to advise Post Office in 2013, in 2020 Brian led a large counsel team advising Post Office Ltd in relation to the CCRC's referrals to the Court of Appeal and to the Crown Court of the historical convictions of postmasters for theft, false accounting and fraud. He led the team for Post Office Ltd in the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, in four days of hearings in March 2021 in relation to the 42 cases referred by the CCRC in what was the largest conjoined appeal ever heard by the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division. The appeals related to individuals who had been privately prosecuted by the Royal Mail Group and post-2012 by Post Office Ltd between 2000 and 2013 relying on evidence from the Horizon accounting system which has since been found to suffer from bugs, errors and defects. Leading a team of over 60 review counsel, the counsel team oversaw an enormous post-conviction disclosure review exercise (with over 4 million documents subjected to review and substantially over 300,000 pages of material disclosed) to enable the appellants to advance their appeals. The case is reported as R v Hamilton & Others  EWCA Crim 577.
Examples of Brian's other work include advising an Estonian company regarding a potential private prosecution in England regarding a European-wide multimillion Euros fraud; a well-known property magnate on issues arising in the course of commercial litigation following false accusations made against him by the SFO; a property developer in an internal investigation of fraud; a high net worth Singaporean client accused of serious drugs offences in Singapore, on instruction by Singaporean lawyers; a nationwide firm of solicitors on issues arising in private litigation under the Official Secrets Acts; a US aerospace company on suspected money laundering and POCA compliance during a $100m acquisition of a British PLC; a public Swedish multinational corporation who suspected it was the victim of a €200m fraud arising during an acquisition by a British PLC of a €1.7bn part of its pan-European business; a Middle Eastern Royal family on issues of international State-led criminality; City of London insolvency practitioners on allegations of fraud underlying the tracing of £100m of hidden assets of a PLC; a well-known credit reference company during due diligence of a target company's systems, bearing on issues of cybercrime and data protection; a national construction PLC on POCA compliance; a significant high net worth victim of phone hacking; the Bar Council on the Bribery Act 2010 and its application to the Bar; and LOCOG pre-the 2012 Olympics on ticket touting offences online.
Examples of recent privately funded defence work include successfully defending a young man for assault; a man accused of a large housing benefit fraud; a former chief police officer accused of sexual offences; a police officer in a high profile case accused of misconduct in public office arising from the murder of a Bristol man falsely alleged to have been a child abuser; a haulier accused of involvement in a large-scale conspiracy to supply drugs; in appeal proceedings, a large property company accused of breaches of an enforcement notice; a money lender who, having pleaded guilty to large-scale cross-border money laundering, avoided imprisonment.
Brian's prosecution instructions include for the CMA in a construction industry-wide cartel case, for the SFO in two blockbuster investigations and for the FCA in an insider dealing case.
His past prosecution work includes the first trial of the high profile killing of PC Andrew Harper in Berkshire in August 2019. PC Harper had been dragged to his death behind a car being driven away from a theft. The first trial which took place in March 2020 had to be aborted in its third week due to the impact of Covid-19 on the jury. Brian was unable to prosecute the retrial in June 2020 due to other pre-existing professional commitments.
In 2018, Brian successfully prosecuted Russell Bishop in the notorious 'Babes in the Woods' murders prosecution from 1986, following a successful application to the Court of Appeal to quash his 1987 acquittals. Examples of other very high profile cases include the prosecutions in 2008 and 2011 of Levi Bellfield for the murders of Milly Dowler, Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy; the prosecution of Mark Dixie for the murder of Sally Anne Bowman; the prosecution of Armel Gnango, which was the murder of a Polish care worker killed in the crossfire of a gunfight between Gnango and another youth, where Gnango had not fired the fatal shot, and the victim had been the unintended target. This landmark case passed through a seven justice Supreme Court and a five judge Court of Appeal on issues of joint enterprise, accessory liability and transferred malice. Gnango's murder conviction was restored on a prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court from the Court of Appeal.
Brian also has a long track record of prosecuting high profile terrorism cases. His cases include: Khalid Ali, a former Taliban fighter, for bomb-making offences in Afghanistan and preparation of terrorist acts in the UK; an Islamic State cyber-terrorist; an Islamic State-influenced plot to kill police or military personnel in London. He was instructed to prosecute Moazzam Begg for alleged terrorism offences arising from the conflict in Syria, and he has prosecuted several other cases arising out of the conflict in Syria. Also, Brian led for the prosecution in the case of alleged IRA man, John Downey, for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, where the abuse of process argument turned on whether Downey had erroneously received a comfort letter from Government in 2007 amounting to a promise not to prosecute.
Called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1981. First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from December 2010 to June 2013. Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from 2002 to 2013. Junior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court from 1997 to 2002. Recorder of the Crown Court since 2003. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 2008. Made a Bencher of Middle Temple in 2010. Joint Head of Chambers at 2 Bedford Row from 2019.
South Eastern Circuit. Criminal Bar Association. Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers.
King's College London
1975 - 1978
University of Amsterdam
Dip Eur Int
1978 - 1979
Inns of Court School of Law
1980 - 1981