Abigail Bright

a.bright@doughtystreet.co.uk

Year of Call

2010
Abigail Bright

Careful submissions’: McCombe LJ (sitting with Lewison LJ) in R. (Saleem) v. Serwan and Liverpool Victoria Insurance Services [2015] EWCA Civ. 123 – committal for civil contempt; on appeal from the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division (Mr Justice Lewis) [2014] EWHC 1846 (QB)

 

Very able submissions’: Wilkie J. in B v. Government of Poland, 11th November 2015 – renewed oral application for leave against an order of extradition

 

‘The Claimants are an MP and a Peeress, Caroline Lucas MP and Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, who have been represented by Mr Ben Jaffey and Mr Jude Bunting of Counsel, and an ex-MP, who was still an MP at the time of the issue of these proceedings, Mr George Galloway, represented by Mr Rupert Bowers QC and Abigail Bright. The Respondents are the three Security Intelligence Agencies (SS, SIS and GCHQ), and the Secretaries of State for the Home Department and for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, responsible for the Security and Intelligence Agencies and for the grant of warrants under s.8(1) and 8(4) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (“RIPA”), all of whom have been represented by Mr James Eadie QC, with Ms Kate Grange and Mr Richard O’Brien of counsel. We have been very grateful for the very thorough preparation and the very lucid presentation of this case.’ Mr Justice Burton (President), (1) Caroline Lucas MP; (2) Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb AM; (3) George Galloway v. (1) Security Service; (2) Secret Intelligence Service; (3) Government Communications Headquarters; (4) Secretary of State for The Home Department; (5) Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2015] UKIPTrib 14_79-CH

 

Profile

With a strong academic background, Abigail’s practice is diverse. She brings a public law-oriented strategy to criminal and civil cases.

 

Direct access extradition, criminal, civil instructions are welcomed.

 

Abigail has a significant extradition profile. She has expertise in statutory and non-statutory public inquiries, having been appointed counsel to both kinds of inquiry. She often appears for privately instructing and insurer-funded individuals in various criminal and civil proceedings, including extradition cases, trials of actions against the police, and licensing. She advises suspects in cases initiated by overseas civil and criminal investigators in which UK-based agencies (typically HMRC and the SFO) have interest. She represents professionals in voluntary interviews under caution and provides strategic pre-charge advice. Abigail defends military personnel before the Courts Martial. She has successfully acted for Police Federation-funded Detective Constables in civil claims brought by officers against their employing Police Forces (instructed by Slater & Gordon).

 

Abigail has a proven practical grasp of the courts’ jealous protection of legal professional privilege. In 2014, Abigail acted for all claimants in three successful judicial reviews of the issue and execution of search warrants: Khajag Kouyoumjian, Sarkis Kouyoumjian v. Hammersmith Magistrates' Court; The Metropolitan Police [2015] A.C.D. 27. (instructed by Byrne and Partners); R. (AB and CD) v. Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court and the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2014] 2 Cr. App. R. 25; R. (on the application of S, F, and L) v. Chief Constable of the British Transport Police; Southwark Crown Court [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1647, reported as a Practice Note. Orders of anonymity were secured in respect of five claimants (AB, CD, S, F, and L) in those judicial reviews. Anonymity was sought because all were solicitors or solicitors’ firms.

 

Abigail has been an annual guest lecturer since 2012 at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. She has a sound working knowledge of recognised mental illnesses and other kinds of thinking disorders that conceivably bear on (lack of) blameworthiness and criminal responsibility. She as a keen commitment to defending prisoners who are accused, convicted and civil claimants against the government and prison estate.

 

Since early 2012 to present (instructed by Giovanna Fiorentino, Lansbury Worthington), Edward Fitzgerald QC and Abigail have together, continuously, acted for Danilo Restivo, a doubly convicted murderer, in both UK criminal appeal and Italian extradition proceedings. In September 2012, Edward Fitzgerald QC and Abigail successfully acted as referral appellate counsel for Restivo when his whole life order was set aside as wrong in principle and replaced with a minimum tariff of forty years. Restivo, wrongly, had been sentenced after trial at Winchester Crown Court to a whole life order when the sentencing judge misapplied the transitionary provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Restivo had been defended at his trial by a Silk and junior. A special constitution of the CACD decided the appeal: Restivo; Oakes and others [2013] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 22, CA (Lord Judge C.J., Hallett, Hughes, Leveson, and Rafferty L.JJ). R’s successful appeal was widely reported: 'Hair-in-hand' killer Danilo Restivo allowed appeal, BBC News; Whole life prison terms upheld by Court of Appeal, BBC News.

 

Appellate submissions on behalf of Restivo are set out extensively in Current Sentencing Practice [Part B B0-15A09: ‘Murder: Whole Life Orders’]. The principle of law established by Restivo’s appeal, per Archbold [5-80], is: ‘[T]he entitlement of a judge to make findings that offences have been committed other than those charged in the indictment (e.g. overt acts committed in the course of a conspiracy) does not extend to reaching a non-jury verdict about allegations put before the jury by way of similar fact evidence, unless, perhaps, the jury must have been satisfied that they were proved, or the defendant has been convicted of them in the past.

 

Edward Fitzgerald QC and Abigail presently defend Danilo Restivo in Italian extradition proceedings, which follow arrangements in 2013 for temporary surrender of Restivo to Italy, for trial, only. The Government of Italy seeks Restivo’s extradition to serve a 30-year sentence for an Italian murder and for perverting the course of justice. The application is resisted on grounds that Restivo is required by the English courts to serve an English mandatory life sentence, ‘at her Majesty’s pleasure’, having been convicted of the English murder prior in time to the (earlier committed) Italian murder.

 

Both counsel have advised Restivo in separate, discrete criminal appeal proceedings. In 2014, the Court of Appeal Criminal Division (Rafferty L.J., Cranston and Stuart JJs) dismissed the appeal and rejected application for leave of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (‘CCRC’) in Omar Benguit v. R. [2014] EWCA Crim 690. The CCRC had referred the case on grounds including thatfresh evidence indicates that Danilo Restivo may have been responsible for the murder’. The CCRC’s submission was that there were striking post-conviction similarities between the instant murder and the two murders of which Restivo was convicted. The instant murder had been committed in July 2006. The CCRC submitted, On 12 May 2004, Restivo, in unseasonable clothing, hood pulled up round his face, was watching lone women from bushes near a path. His behaviour was so sinister that surveillance was abandoned and he was arrested on a pretext. A knife, scissors and a balaclava were found in his car but no further action taken.’ The Court of Appeal rejected the analysis of the CCRC that particular significance attached to the instant murder having been committed on the twelve day of the month. ‘Neither are we persuaded of relevance attaching to the 12th day of the month. Only four occasions involved that number, far short of any figure which would begin to alert us to more than coincidence.’

 

Since 2013 to present, Joe Stone QC and Abigail have, together, continuously, represented a doubly convicted murderer, Danno Sonnex, one of the two ‘New Cross killers’. Joe Stone QC and Abigail have successfully defended Sonnex at trials (acquitted of multiple counts of section 18 wounding on prison gaolers). Abigail has since been acted for Sonnex in judicial review proceedings (Scott Moncrieff & Co. instructing) against the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, and named prisons. In 2016, Abigail secured out-of-hours, emergency injunctive relief (cor. Kerr J.) from transfer within the close supervision centre prison estate.

 

For Hibiscus Initiatives, Abigail conducts law surgeries for national prisoners in UK prisons. The surgeries offer practical support to do with the various orders to which foreign national prisoners are typically made subject – extradition, repatriation, deportation. 

 

Abigail administers the annual King’s College London Human Rights Moot, sponsored by Doughty Street Chambers. Abigail has taught advocacy for the Kalisher Trust’s ‘Art of Persuasion’ outreach scheme. She has taught Hemple method advocacy for Middle Temple’s residential advocacy weekend at Cumberland Lodge. She is training to become an Inns-accredited advocacy trainer. Since 2012, Abigail has been a mentor for scholarship winners of Middle Temple’s ‘Access to the Bar’ awards.

 

Abigail is a trustee and board member of Chaos Theory, a grassroots charity that resettles young convicted male offenders after release from imprisonment.

 

Practice areas 

Criminal and civil; statutory and non-statutory public inquiries; extradition; jury and trial advocacy, referral appeals; judicial review; injunctions and damages against public authorities.

 

Appointments

 

Publications

Judicial reviews of investigatory and prosecuting authorities

From August 2015 to present, Abigail has acted in judicial

In 2014, Abigail acted for all claimants in three successful judicial reviews of the issue and execution of search warrants. She was led by Rupert Bowers, Q.C.

Orders of anonymity were secured in respect of five claimants in judicial reviews: AB, CD, S, F, and L. Anonymity was sought because all were solicitors or solicitors’ firms.

 

Khajag Kouyoumjian, Sarkis Kouyoumjian v. Hammersmith Magistrates' Court; The Metropolitan Police [2015] A.C.D. 27. (instructed by Byrne and Partners), Queen’s Bench Division (Divisional Court), Aiken L.J.; Mitting J. – Criminal investigations; Justification; Retention; Return of seized property; Search warrants – Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.8—Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 s.59(5)(b)—search warrants—change of police target—whether or not material obtained under unlawful search warrants could be retained by police pending outcome of application under s.59(5)(b) – The claimants (K and S) challenged by way of judicial review the issue of four search warrants by the first defendant (H) pursuant to s.8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and their execution by the second defendant (M) – Allowing the application: (1) The sole issue in dispute was whether all of the material seized under the quashed orders, including any copies, should be returned to S and M immediately despite the pending application under s.59(5)(b). There were no authorities which dealt specifically with the question of what factors should take into account when deciding whether or not to grant an order in such circumstances, C v Nottingham and Newark Magistrates’ Court  [2013] EWHC 3790 (Admin) considered; (2) In the instant case, although M had not acted in bad faith, the manner in which matters had developed was of concern. At the time M applied for the original search warrants the search was in relation to material relevant to a drugs investigation. The purpose of the investigation quickly shifted from drugs towards financial matters; (3) There had been no explanation as to why and when the change of focus occurred and the change was not referred to in any documents submitted to the court in relation to the judicial review proceedings or the application under s.59. Both the court and the Crown Court had been misled as to the true position. Where search warrants had been obtained and executed unlawfully, all material seized had to be returned unless retention by another party had been justified. In the circumstances of the instant case, M had not justified retention of the material under s.59(5)(b). The general principle that those suspected of crime should not be placed in a better position than they might otherwise be if material was returned, had to give way to the particular circumstances of particular cases, R. (on the application of Panesar) v Central Criminal Court  [2014] EWHC 2821 (Admin) considered. It was essential that, subject to any operational requirements which prevented disclosure, a precise explanation was given where a radical change of target had occurred and the police sought to retain material that had been unlawfully seized pending an application for an order under s.59. An order for the return of all material seized to K and S was granted.

 

R. (AB and CD) v. Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court and the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2014] 2 Cr. App. R. 25. Rafferty L.J. and Stuart-Smith J. Queen's Bench Division (Divisional Court), full and frank disclosure; Legal professional privilege; Search warrants; Solicitors; Validity – MS was suspected of murder. When the police attempted to trace MS, he had disappeared. The police suspected that the claimants, who were members of MS’ family, were actively involved in assisting him to leave the country and were continuing to assist him in evading arrest. The police also knew that the claimants were solicitors as they practised criminal law and acted as duty solicitors at police stations. The police applied to the defendant court for a specific premises warrant under s.8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) in respect of the claimants’ residential accommodation. The court was not told that the claimants were solicitors nor that the police expected to find significant quantities of items subject to legal privilege, excluded material or special procedure material within the meaning of ss.10 , 11 and 14 of PACE respectively. The court issued the warrant authorising entry to the premises and the search for computers, mobile telephones, and documents relating to the financing of MS. The claimants applied for judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the issue of the warrant and the searches subsequently carried out. The claimants submitted, inter alia, that: (i) the failure to disclose the fact that the claimants were solicitors and that items subject to legal privilege were likely to be found invalidated the warrant; and (ii) the search under s.18 of PACE was unlawful because there was no evidence that ZH lived or regularly stayed at the premises, but only that he had stayed there overnight on one occasion. The claimants also sought orders for anonymity pursuant to CPR r.39.2(4). Application allowed: (1) there was no general and binding principle that full details had to be given of any possibility that legally privileged, excluded or special procedure materials might be encountered in a search where such material was neither the intended target of the search nor intrinsically likely to be a significant element of what would probably be encountered. It followed that it was not always necessary to disclose that an occupant of premises to be searched happened to be a solicitor. Nevertheless it could not be assumed that a solicitor would not take his work-based devices to his home, especially if he acted as a duty solicitor; (2) The important consideration was that s.8(1)(e) of PACE provided that the question was not whether it was certain that the material within the ambit of the warrant would consist of or include items subject to legal privilege, but whether the applicant for the warrant had reasonable grounds for believing that the items included in the warrant would not consist of or include them. Thus it was obviously material for the court to know that there might be on the premises computers or other devices, which might belong to solicitors practising in the claimants’ field; (3) It followed that the duty of full and frank disclosure clearly required that the court be told that the claimants were solicitors, with the consequence that it was not only foreseeable but highly likely that the terms of the warrant as drafted would include significant quantities of material that was legally privileged. The failure to give such disclosure was fatal to the police’s case. Accordingly the warrant was issued unlawfully and thus the police were not lawfully on the premises when executing it ([17]–[20]). 

 

Reported as a Practice Note: R. (on the application of S, F, and L) v. Chief Constable of the British Transport Police; Southwark Crown Court [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1647. Police—Search, right of—Search warrant—Application for search warrant under special procedure—Warrants issued to search home and business premises of solicitors—Practice to be followed on applications for special procedure search warrant— Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (c 60) (as amended by Courts Act 2003 (c 39), s 109(1), Sch 8, para 281(3) , Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c 44), s 2 , Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (c 15), ss 113, 114, Sch 7, para 43(13), Sch 17, para 1 , Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Amendment) Order 2005 (SI 2005/3496), arts 7(2)(a)(b), 8 ), ss 9, 15, 16, Sch 1On an application for a search warrant under the special procedure in section 9 of and Schedule 1 to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 19841 , as amended, the information sworn in support of the application must set out and show how each of the statutory requirements are satisfied by setting out all the relevant facts relied on, including all facts and matters which are said to show that a particular “reasonable belief” is justified. The information has to make full and frank disclosure and to state whether, despite there being “reasonable grounds” for the constable believing that the material sought consists of or contains “special procedure material” or “excluded material”, there might be a claim for legal privilege in respect of any communication sought and, if so, how and why that would arise together with precise details of the arrangements which are to be taken to ensure that there will be an independent supervising lawyer present at the time of the search. Additional information supplied to the judge during the hearing of the application, whether as a result of judicial questioning or otherwise, should be supplemented by a witness statement or a further information. All hearings of an application for a search warrant must be recorded and the circuit judge making the decision must give reasons for either granting or refusing the warrant [paras 45, 46]. Applications for special procedure search warrants under the 1984 Act require considerable care, especially when they involve documents held by solicitors, which are more than likely to contain material subject to legal professional privilege. Police officers and other investigating authorities would be well advised to seek legal advice before drafting informations and before making applications in such cases [para 108].

Statutory and non-statutory public inquiries

2016: Appointed counsel to the Inquiry, Undercover Policing Inquiry, Chair: Sir Christopher Pitchford (a statutory public inquiry).

2016: Appointed counsel to the Inquiry, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, investigation into the late Lord Janner of Braunstone Q.C. (a statutory public inquiry).

2011: Appointed noting counsel, The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Chair: Robert Francis Q.C. (a non-statutory public inquiry).

Investigations and public reports

Appeared in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (July 2015), instructed by George Galloway in three conjoined claims. When the claims were issued, George Galloway was a Member of Parliament. The claims arose from causes of action exposed by leaks emanating from the Edward Snowden disclosures: (1) Caroline Lucas MP; (2) Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb AM; (3) George Galloway v. (1) Security Service; (2) Secret Intelligence Service; (3) Government Communications Headquarters; (4) Secretary of State for The Home Department; (5) Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2015] UKIPTrib 14_79-CH The Tribunal considered the existence and status of the Harold Wilson Doctrine (‘the Wilson Doctrine’). This was born out of a statement made on 20 June 1966 by the then Prime Minister to the House of Commons to the effect that the telephones of MPs (later extended to Peers) would not be tapped, i.e. apparently giving to Parliamentarians immunity from interception. The Tribunal concluded that the Wilson Doctrine was not an absolute one. It did not apply to prevent the issue of interception warrants under Section 8(4) of RIPA i.e. as opposed to deliberately targeted warrants under Section 8(1); nor did it apply to incidental interception of Parliamentarians’ communications. It further ruled that in any event the Doctrine has no legal effect. However, the Tribunal noted that the SIAs do in fact already have codes and guidance (disclosed in the proceedings), which impose considerable preconditions and precautions before Parliamentarians’ communications could be accessed, with which they are obliged to comply. It concluded that the regime for the interception of Parliamentarians’ communications complies with the Convention.

Researcher for a report published in March 2014: An Unfinished War: Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka, 2009–2014, a report by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, UK, and the International Truth & Justice Project, Sri Lanka

Researcher for a report published in April 2008: Justice in Burma, Oxford Pro Bono Publico, Law Faculty, University of Oxford, http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/opbp 

Inquests

Acted for the daughter of the deceased, Prisoner O, who was terminally ill, in a case referred by INQUEST. Prisoner O died whilst a serving prisoner at HMP Wandsworth. O’s daughter contended that HMP Wandsworth had failed to apply on O’s behalf for early compassionate release on grounds that O was terminally ill. The inquest took six days in January 2016, convened in the Westminster Coroners’ Court sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice. Prisoner O was serving a four-year sentence of imprisonment for laundering millions of pounds generated by dumping building waste in what the Environment Agency reported was the biggest court case it had ever brought. A day before being sentenced to four years, Prisoner O had been released from prison after serving for firearms offences.

The inquest gave rise to the only known ruling on entitlement of the jury to state their findings in respect of place of death, pursuant to Article 8 of the ECHR. The Coroner agreed with submissions on behalf of the daughter of the deceased: (1) place of death is not always confined to geographical fact; (2) it is open to a jury to record all findings relevant to place of death. The Coroner’s ruling established a novel point of law. ‘This inquest, with the assistance of four highly experienced counsel, has identified a number of potential issues. The jury has listened to evidence on a number of factors relating to the general circumstances of the last months of O’s life. Many of the issues of fact are such that it is not appropriate that they find their way into the jury’s conclusions. I have to be satisfied as a matter of law what the evidence permits them to decide. In terms of what the jury is allowed to consider, and whether the evidence permits them to begin such a process, I look at section 5 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. [The Coroner read aloud section 5(1)&(2)]. The words “in what circumstances” in section 5(2) is a direct reference to sub-section 5(1)(b) of the Act. They are to be interpreted collectively. In those circumstances, the jury is entitled to look at the “circumstances” of “where” someone came by their death.

In most cases, this would be a simple issue of pure fact: This person died in this location. But in cases where the deceased was a person who was deprived of their liberty, there are cases where the place of death is not where the person might otherwise have died or wanted to die. In cases like this, where someone could have been at home with their family, rather than locked in a cell or guarded by escorts at St George’s Hospital, it is properly within the concern of the jury. The jury could properly record this in their conclusion only if they were satisfied there was a delay more than O’s mere failure to report. I am satisfied that this is the correct interpretation of section 5. In coming to this decision, I am, of course, mindful of the provisions of section 10(2) of the Act: the need to avoid determining issues of criminal or civil liability.’

Extradition

Tintar v. Government of Romania, Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court), 16 December 2016: Leave to appeal – Deferment of order of extradition – Proportionality – Right to respect for private and family life – Appeal against a decision to order extradition to Romania – Appeal refused but Lang J. agreed with the Appellant that deferring his extradition for three months would allow his wife to recover from birth and to make plans for the family.

Iancu (Elena); Iancu (Radu) v. Government of Romania, Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court), 14 March 2016: The Appellants, Romanian nationals, husband and wife, were parents of seven year-old twins – Permission to appeal was granted by Collins J. on the sole ground that the District Judge erred in each case in finding that extradition was proportionate pursuant to section 21A(1)(a) of the Extradition Act 2003 (“the Act”) and Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Hein v. Government of Poland [2015] EWHC 2855 (Admin.), 9 October 2015, reported in the Human Rights Updater 151(Oct), 11-12 – Instructed to appear as referral counsel, having not appeared previously. The Appellant had not been represented at first instance. Appeal was mounted on the basis that there had been inadequate opportunity for the Appellant to secure and instruct legal representation at first instance. Granting permission to appeal, Cranston J. noted that the District Judge regarded the matters as “finely balanced” on the Article 8 ECHR challenge. Cranston J. observed, “it may be that the balance would have come down differently if the Applicant had been legally advised and represented”. As the Appellant had not had advice as regards section 14 of the 2003 Act, permission was also granted to appeal on that ground. Appeal refused.

Re: K, an out-of-hours emergency application for a stay of execution of lawful order of extradition (August 2015). Instructed to appear as referral counsel, having not appeared previously. Successful out-of-hours application cor. Laing J. for a stay of removal by the National Crime Agency. Laing J. accepted there were cogent bars to appeal that should have been ventilated – but had not been put before – the Administrative Court. 

Government of Romania v. Y (July 2015, post-Celinski). Led counsel. Discharge ordered of a Bulgarian national, solely on the ground of Article 8, ECHR: the District Judge had found that Y was a fugitive from Romanian justice; the judgment recorded that Y was found to have been “an incredible witness”; Y had no child or dependent or family.

Government of Slovakia v. IM (January 2015, extradition hearing opened in January 2013): Discharge ordered on grounds of passage of time and Article 8, ECHR.

October 2014, Government of Poland v. Z: Order for Z’s extradition had been upheld by Mitting J. [Z v Circuit Court in Gliwice, Poland [2014] EWHC 3271 (Admin)]. Z contacted legal representatives the evening before he was due to be extradited. Z instructed that he had discharged the compensation in full. Instructed representatives liaised directly with National Crime Agency to request that an expedited check was made to verify that information. Expedited checks verified the information. The EAW on which Z’s extradition had been ordered was withdrawn minutes before Z was due to board the flight.  

Republic of Moldova v. M (September 2014, extradition hearing opened in September 2013). Led counsel. Discharge ordered of a Moldovan national ordered solely on the ground of Article 3, ECHR. M formerly served as a senior officer in the special police branch, ‘FULGAR’ unit, Pridnestrovie, Moldova. M had enrolled from March 1992, when the armed conflict between Moldova and the separatist republic of Transnistria began in Chisinau.

Government of Poland v. P (November 2013): Discharge ordered. The EAW comprised three convictions, involving robbery using a firearm. The judgment recorded that the public interest in ordering return was "finely balanced" against bars raised by P.  

Fraud trials and confiscation proceedings

March to April 2017, Southwark Crown Court: Trial fixture, 10 days, conspiracy to defraud

March to April 2015, Operation Wasabi, boiler room fraud, City of London Police, Southwark CC: Successfully defended RB, a City investment diamond trader, who was acquitted of both counts of boiler room fraud for which he was tried. RB was second of six on the indictment. The cut-throat trial lasted seven weeks. RB was accused of organising an estimated £1.5 million diamond boiler room fraud. RB denied he had had the role and responsibility attributed to him in interview by his co-defendants. Diamond investors lost in excess of £1.5 million after being hounded with "persuasive" and "persistent" calls that insistent investment would reap healthy returns. The trial and convictions of RB’s co-defendants was reported in The Daily Telegraph. The City of London Police issued a press statement at the conclusion of Operation Wasabi, an international police investigation into a boiler room network of diamond frauds. Detective Constable Claire Bailey, who led the investigation, said: "Much of the £1.5 million taken from victims was funneled off by the gang to accounts held overseas with tens of thousands of pounds also being spent on luxury items and in stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. The two companies at the centre of the fraud - Evolution Commodities and Stonehouse Global Markets – were initially investigated separately by the City of London Police. After a number of links between the two operations were revealed, including shared diamonds, funds, scripts, staff and client lists, a judicial decision was made to bring the two cases together. […] Boiler room fraud is a crime that destroys retirements and ruins lives. Victims were led to believe they were investing their savings in diamonds that could only increase in value and would provide them with regular and healthy dividends when in reality they were putting their money and trust in a carefully constructed scam designed to make the fraudsters a fortune. The City of London Police are very pleased this complex and extensive investigation has finally resulted in this organised crime gang facing the justice they deserve, something that I hope will provide some solace to their victims."

April to November 2015, Central Criminal Court: Successfully defended M, against whom confiscation proceedings for £34 million were terminated by a final order. Defended M instructed as referral counsel for sentence and confiscation proceedings. Confiscation proceedings involving a benefit figure of £34 million against M were terminated. Prosecution of M and other conspirators for drug trafficking had followed a cross-border probe operation into large-scale importation of several Class A drugs, and laundering of proceeds of crime. The Crown’s case was that M was a directing mastermind of the conspiracies and she had lived a ‘criminal lifestyle’ for the purposes of the assumptions in the POCA 2002. Several properties had been rented in M’s name, including at The Sloane Club and Cadogan Square. Cash of £2,088.815.00 was found in a kitchen cupboard. Two counting machines were removed from a room at the same address. The case was opened for confiscation proceedings as follows: ‘By virtue of a background in business and a glittering career in the Greek media, [M] had an aura of respectability which provided a cover for drug trafficking activities [...] [M] was pivotal in sourcing drugs in Greece and arranging their transportation in cover loads of Greek produce. On her own admission [...] she had access to substantial quantities of cash in Greece. [M’s] handwriting is on notes that concern the counting of the cash and a fingerprint is on the packaging of the cash.’ M was extradited from Greece to face trial at the Central Criminal Court. After conviction, M had been sentenced to eighteen years’ imprisonment in 2014. Confiscation proceedings against M were terminated when it was submitted that M could not meaningfully participate in the proceedings because she was absent. M had been extradited to Greece, mid-confiscation proceedings, by the National Crime Agency, and so was absent. As a convicted foreign offender, M had voluntarily signed a ‘request for transfer’ application for repatriation to Greece. The defence for M argued that M’s acquiescence or willingness was irrelevant: the National Crime Agency had had no basis in law to arrange for M’s removal mid-confiscation proceedings. The prosecuting authority accepted that M had wrongly been removed to Greece whilst a serving prisoner awaiting confiscation proceedings in the UK. The prosecuting authority submitted that an adjournment in the proceedings would permit arrangements for a video-link from Greece to the Central Criminal Court. The defence argued that Greece had not signed a treaty for facilitation of video-link connection to criminal courts in the E.U. The learned judge agreed that there was no realistic prospect of M’s appearance or production at the confiscation proceedings. 

Licensing

Abigail acts in applications for licenses to be revoked or suspended. She has a sound and applied knowledge of the Licensing Act 2003 and the Security Industry Authority.

January and February 2017: Successfully defended the license-holder, funded by the venue’s insurers, at licensing reviews before two Licensing Sub-Committees. The Metropolitan Police Service contended revocation of the venue license was necessary. The venue was a nightclub. The Committee agreed with submissions on behalf of the license-holder that it would be disproportionate to so order. Police had applied for revocation of the license after a female sustained what Police submitted were ‘life-changing’ injuries when attacked with a smashed bottle to the face, lacerating the eyes and cheeks. 

Defence of doctors

Abigail defends doctors.

She advises from the outset of announced or suspected GMC disciplinary action.

September 2016, 5 days: Privately instructed (Kingsley Napley), successfully resisted erasure from the Medical Register of Dr A at a hearing before a panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. Dr A was before the Tribunal for two instances of dishonesty. The Tribunal agreed with submissions made on behalf of Dr A that the two separate episodes of dishonesty were sufficiently close together in time such that Dr A’s dishonesty was not persistent. The Tribunal agreed with submissions made on behalf of Dr A that Dr A’s actions were not fundamentally incompatible with his continued registration. The Tribunal agreed erasure would be disproportionate. In considering the length of suspension, the Tribunal accepted that suspending Dr A's registration for three months would satisfy the Tribunal’s overarching objective. A longer suspension would risk being punitive.

Private defence and defence of specialist private prosecutions

January 2017: Successfully defended W who was allowed to keep her driving licence, having driven 120 m.p.h. in a 70 m.p.h. limit. G was the regional manager of a UK-based international chain of restaurants. G relied on demonstrating that she and others would bear exceptional hardship if she were to lose her licence. A bundle in support of G’s mitigation was filed and served in advance of the hearing. G argued that hundreds of restaurant employees relied on her continuing to conduct training, supervision and employee appraisals.

Defended in two acquittals of city professionals on 2nd November and 14th November 2016 for Berkeley Square Law’s private client department. Defendant’s Costs Orders were made.

March 2016: Successfully defended in what was the first private prosecution of a motorist for dangerous driving. Defendant was acquitted in just twenty minutes. Former driving instructor, K, denied he was travelling at more than 50 mph in a 30 m.p.h. zone whilst driving his Audi R8 sports car. The trial was prosecuted by Martin Porter Q.C., known on social media as ‘The Cycling Silk’, who published a press statement about the case: I alleged against him that he drove dangerously and supported that allegation with evidence from an experienced collision investigator, Mr Paul Croft.  I thank him for the careful balanced and conspicuously fair way that he presented his evidence which to my mind was highly compelling. […] [K] had the good fortune to have his defence conducted successively by  Ms Abigail Bright and Mr Jake Taylor who quite properly worked hard and effectively to secure what was the right result for their client.’ In 2010, The Telegraph reported that Martin Porter Q.C. was critical of police and prosecutors for failing to prosecute dangerous drivers. The Independent reported the acquittal: ‘Cyclist fails in first UK private prosecution against motorist for dangerous driving’. In April 2016, a month after the acquittal, Martin Porter Q.C. wrote an article in The Guardian, ‘Dangerous drivers should not be allowed to choose trial by jury’

Referral criminal and civil appeals

Abigail regularly appears both for criminal and civil appellants.

'Hair-in-hand' killer Danilo Restivo allowed appeal, BBC News; Whole life prison terms upheld by Court of Appeal, BBC News: Edward Fitzgerald Q.C. and Abigail together appeared at the appeal (September 2012) of Danilo Restivo, whose whole life order was set aside and replaced with a minimum tariff of 40 years. A special constitution of the CACD decided the appeal: Restivo; Oakes and others [2013] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 22, CA (Lord Judge C.J., Hallett, Hughes, Leveson, and Rafferty L.JJ). Submissions of both counsel on behalf of Restivo are set out extensively in Current Sentencing Practice [Part B B0-15A09: ‘Murder: Whole Life Orders’]. The principle of law established by Restivo’s appeal, per Archbold [5-80], is: ‘[T]he entitlement of a judge to make findings that offences have been committed other than those charged in the indictment (e.g. overt acts committed in the course of a conspiracy) does not extend to reaching a non-jury verdict about allegations put before the jury by way of similar fact evidence, unless, perhaps, the jury must have been satisfied that they were proved, or the defendant has been convicted of them in the past.

Edward Fitzgerald Q.C. and Abigail presently defend Restivo in Italian extradition proceedings. The Government of Italy seeks Restivo’s extradition to serve a 30-year sentence for an Italian murder and for perverting the course of justice. The application is resisted on grounds that Restivo is required by the English courts to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison having been convicted of the English murder. The case follows arrangements in 2013 for temporary surrender of Restivo to Italy, for trial, only.  

January 2015: Instructed in an insurance claim case arising from an organised ring of ‘cash for crash’ cases: R. (Saleem) v. Serwan and Liverpool Victoria Insurance Services [2015] EWCA Civ. 123. The proceedings concerned committal for civil contempt originally before the High Court, Queen's Bench Division (Mr Justice Lewis) [2014] EWHC 1846 (QB). On appeal, the case was before McCombe L.J. and Lewison L.J.

Actions against the Police

In 2016, Abigail acted for three police officers insured by the Police Federation who made claims against their employing Forces. The defendant Forces elected to resolve the claims.

One claimant officer, a Detective Constable, concluded his a claim by serving a letter before claim in a judicial review of his former Police. He remained with the Police, having moved to a different borough. The claim was swiftly and amicably resolved. 

Murder

In 2014  alone, defended in three murder trials, led at each trial by Joe Stone Q.C.

March 2014, trial of 4 weeks, Leeds Crown Court: Defended AD, first of six defendants on the indictment, who was tried for the Thorpe House Farm murder before (now) Lord Justice Simon. The Crown opened its case to the jury that the murder was a vengeful fatal attack in which retribution was sought after AD’s son had been teased by two girls at a local horse and country fair. The fatal attack at a Leeds farmhouse started with the theft of a lorry from a location near the scene; the lorry was then used to tear down the gates of a farmhouse with a walled perimeter. The intended murder victim fled the scene, unscathed. The trial was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post: ‘Murderous gang believed they were “untouchable”’

AD was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years. Detective Superintendent Jon Morgan, West Yorkshire Police, gave a press statement: ‘[C] was brutally attacked and left for dead when a dispute he had absolutely nothing to do with exploded into completely unnecessary violence. He was attacked purely because he was the only man around when this group arrived at the farm intent on vengeance following an earlier fallout. “They like to think of themselves as untouchable but this case should clearly demonstrate that no-one is above the law.’

September 2014: Defended RG, indicted for murder, who was also tried before Mr Justice Edis for the Thorpe House Farm murder. The trial was resolved on day four, after evidence had been called, when the Crown elected to resolve the trial by accepting a plea of guilty by RG to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. RG was jailed for 8 years, determinate sentence. The defence for RG secured agreement in principle with the Crown that, by pleading guilty to the lesser offence, RG would not be sentenced for the killing. Rather, RG agreed to be sentence on the basis that he had played a part in a serious offence when ‘extreme violence’ was planned, following the earlier incident at a fair. RG accepted he was part of a group that ‘took the law into its own hands.’ RG was sentencing accordingly.

December 2014: Defended HP who was indicted at the Central Criminal Court for murder. HP, aged 34, a long-serving Indian policeman, acted on morbid jealousy when he strangled his 21 year-old wife of two weeks after he arrived in Britain to live with her. Four years earlier, a judge at the Central Criminal Court had found HP was unfit to plead and unfit to stand trial. A jury had found that HP had done the act alleged. In 2014, prosecution of HP was resurrected with forensic psychiatric opinion that HP had become fit to plead. The Crown accepted a plea of guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. Four forensic psychiatrists had been instructed by the parties to assess the significance of a rare psychiatric condition, morbid jealousy. Morbid jealousy should be considered to be a descriptive term for the result of a number of psychopathologies within separate psychiatric diagnoses. Morbid jealousy has wrongly been dubbed the ‘Othello syndrome’, with reference to the irrational jealousy of Shakespeare’s Othello. Jealousy is a common, complex, ‘normal’ emotion. Morbid jealousy describes a range of irrational thoughts and emotions, together with associated unacceptable or extreme behaviour, in which the dominant theme is a preoccupation with a partner’s sexual unfaithfulness without foundation or with inadequate evidence. The prevalence of morbid jealousy is unknown. Other dominating psychopathologies generally mean most such cases do not result in psychiatric referral. 

Serious organised crime

March 2017, PTPH, trial to be fixed: Instructions to defend X at trial. Three held over 'shocking' spray robbery on shop man: Three people have been arrested after a "shocking" robbery in which a shop worker was injured with a spray by balaclava-clad attackers.

April 2017, 5 days, Newcastle Crown Court: Instructions to defend M, indicted with possession of an imitation firearm and harassment.

September 2015, 3 weeks, Oxford Crown Court: Successfully defended W, who was acquitted of counts of conspiracies to rob and falsely imprison. An alleged co-robber was stabbed to death in the confrontation with the home-owner and a murder trial followed. Thirteen to sixteen years is the sentencing range, if convicted, where a robbery is committed violently on a person in the home. The jury delivered unanimous verdicts of Not Guilty to both charges against B after four days in retirement. W was tried together with three others. The Crown relied on cell site and telephones evidence to locate the group of four at the scene. The Crown alleged the group, wearing balaclavas, had confronted and rushed a homeowner in hours of darkness, taking cable ties to tie him up, so as to rob and falsely imprison him. B had not commented in interview on his presence at the scene. The fact that the homeowner was confronted by several males was not denied. The uncontested evidence at the trial was that A had purchased a number of balaclavas but four hours before the homeowner was confronted. B’s fingerprints were recovered from two of those balaclavas which, the Crown alleged, were used as part of the confrontation.

February 2015, Leicester Crown Court: Defended G, a female, indicted together with 12 others. G pleaded guilty to organising, and herself entering into, sham marriages to help non-European Union citizens avoid UK immigration control. G was sentenced to 12 months’ immediate imprisonment.

September 2014, Portsmouth Crown Court: Defended S, a female, who pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm having thrown caustic fluid at a 22 year-old female who worked as a waitress. A finding of dangerousness was avoided. Sentence of nine years passed. Mitigation focused on S’s vulnerabilities. The Crown opened the case for sentence as follows: ‘[S] wanted to make her victim “less attractive". She mixed the caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, with water. The level of concentration was viscous, sticking to the skin or any surface in which it came into contact. It was extremely corrosive.’

Prisoners

February 2017, trial listed for 7 days, Blackfriars Crown Court: Successfully defended Prisoner A on all counts for trial. The Crown Prosecution Service instructed a Silk. Prisoner A, who the jury was told was serving an IPP sentence passed in 2010 for rape, and had violently attacked prison officers several times, was tried on three counts, all indicted as alternatives: (1) attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent; (2) attempting to choke, suffocate or strangle with intent, contrary to section 21 of the 1861 Act; (3) a basic intent offence, assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The prosecution case was opened to the jury that Prisoner A attacked a female nurse by strangling her, in an attempt to take her keys from her so that he could try to escape. The prosecution did not have to prove that Prisoner A's attempt to escape would have been successful, merely that that is what he wanted to try to do. The prosecution based its case on (i) the nurse's evidence on oath that Prisoner A attacked her by throttling her, with his hands clamped around her neck, causing her to choke, and her belief that he was trying to take her keys from her, and photographs taken of her injured neck (ii) Prisoner A's own account to prison officers present at the scene, “I didn’t want her to lock me up so I grabbed her and tried to take her keys” and (iii) Prisoner A's statements in interview that he wanted to get out HMP Pentonville. Prisoner A’s defence case was that he did not intend to act as he did, whether specific or basic intent. He had been intoxicated on ‘Spice’, synthetic cannabis, made by prisoners, which is endemic in HMP Pentonville. The prosecution closed its case on the basis that, consistently with Prisoner A’s defence case, all three instructed forensic psychiatrists had jointly agreed: (1) Prisoner A would have been able to form the necessary intent at the time of the accepted attempted choking/suffocation/strangulation; (2) Prisoner A did not have a mental illness; (3) the primary issue was that Prisoner A had a personality disorder with primary antisocial, paranoid and borderline components; he may also have had the condition ADHD.

September 2016, 3 days, Brighton Crown Court: Successfully defended Prisoner D, who had been Prisoner D was indicted on counts of wounding with intent to wound another prisoner and a second offence of possession of a mobile telephone in prison. Prisoner D was joined for trial to three others. Prisoner D’s defence relied on the expertise of two forensic scientific blood analysts so as to dispute that D was reliably connected to a cosh (a gym weight fixed to a sock). The cosh was found next to the injured prisoner who had been attacked by smashing of a weight to the head. Prisoner D also declined to accept information given to the Court by the Prison Service that no closed circuit television cameras (‘CCTV’) were working on any part of the landing. The Crown was put to strict proof on continuity of exhibits. No evidence was offered against D. In June 2016, Prisoner D had lost an appeal before the CACD arising from a separate and earlier trial. The earlier trial had resulted in a sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment for dealing drugs. Prisoner D had missed the trial, having gone underground.

August 2015, 10 days, Leeds Crown Court: Successfully defended Prisoner S. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported the trial: ‘Lifer struck officer in the face…A prison officer suffered a serious cut to the face after being attacked by an inmate at Wakefield jail who is serving a life sentence for a double murder, a jury heard. The jury was told [S] is serving a life sentence for murdering two students by stabbing them to death. The attack on the officer is alleged to have taken place on 3 August 2013 on a custody officer on the exceptional risk segregation unit where he was being held. The court heard [S] was assessed as a high risk of attacking officers or inmates. [S] was restrained by other officers after the attack. The injured officer was taken to hospital and had the wound glued back together. [S] is also accused of assaulting another officer on 11 July 2013 after losing his temper when property was removed from his cell. It is claimed he kicked the officer in the face as he was being restrained. [S] denies wounding with intent and assault.’ The Crown opened its case to the jury that Prisoner S had carried out the attacks on prison officers to secure his transfer from prison to Broadmoor Hospital. The Crown relied on video footage showing Prisoner S stabbing one of the gaolers in the neck with a sharpened weapon. The defence case was S was that whilst S did not deny injuring the officers, S but denied being guilty of the offences. S claimed he was psychotic at the time of the incidents and was not capable of forming the intent to commit the offences. Both the Crown and the defence called forensic psychiatrists to give evidence to the jury. S told the jury he had been subject to a systematic two-year campaign of sustained psychological abuse in the secretive close supervision unit (CSU) at HMP Wakefield. Prisoner S told the jury that his abuse by prison officers had culminated in a physical and sexual attack on him by five officers in the special accommodation cell (‘the SAC’). The case required a proactive defence from its outset. The defence resisted an application by Her Majesty’s Prison Service for the whole trial to be conducted whilst Prisoner S was held remotely, on a prison video link (PVL). The Prison Service submitted that Prisoner S was too dangerous to be produced to the court cells each day for trial. The defence adduced reverse similar fact evidence in the form of a "whistleblower" (L) to prove prior prison officer misconduct at HMP Wakefield. L (an ex prison officer) had been awarded £477,000 in 2004 as part of a damning employment tribunal judgment against HMP Wakefield. The defence called leading forensic psychiatrists to deal with complex issues on psychotic intent, amnesia and mens rea in the context of Prisoner S’s Asperger’s disorder.  

Sexual offending and indecent images

Abigail is instructed in serious and high profile sexual offences cases. She regularly writes and lectures on the subject. Solicitors and lay clients value her strategic approach to cases.

2016: Appointed counsel to the Inquiry, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, investigation into the late Lord Janner of Braunstone Q.C. (a statutory public inquiry)

December 2016, trial of 4 days, Newcastle Crown Court: Successfully defended F, section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Crown’s case was that F knew, as other witnesses said on oath, that the complainant could not have consented because she was so tired and drunk. Defence relied on outcome and findings in a toxicology report. F did not give evidence. 

September 2016, trial of 9 days, Woolwich Crown Court: Defended S, indicted for multiple counts of grooming and taking or making photographs of a child or children. S was a director of theatre and film. Defence argued that S’s contact on social media and when arranging In any event, it was argued that the images were not indecent and were merely titillating.

September 2014, trial of 5 days, Inner London Crown Court: Acquitted of exposure.

August 2013, trial of 4 days, Woolwich Crown Court: Acquitted of sexual assault.  

Education

Dip.F.M.S. (Diploma in Forensic Medical Sciences), Barts and The London School of Medicine, 2010

Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), Distinction, Balliol College, University of Oxford, 2008

Law with Advanced Studies, First Class Hons., UCL, 2002-2006


Memberships

Criminal Bar Association
Young Fraud Lawyers' Association
Extradition Lawyers' Association
Fair Trials International
British Academy of Forensic Science
Worshipful Society of Apothecaries

Publications

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