Francis has specialised, since taking Silk in 2010, in serious and complex crime, with a particular emphasis on cases of homicide, major drugs trafficking, historic and ‘cold-case’ sexual offences, and is increasingly taking on fraud and other financial cases. He is also regularly sought out to advise on and appear in complex criminal appeals, as well as advising professionals such as solicitors who face disciplinary proceedings brought by their regulatory body.
He accepts instructions, in London and nationally, to provide advice and advocacy for private and legally aided clients, as well as under the Bar’s Public Access scheme. He also gives advice to professional clients in other jurisdictions.
Francis FitzGibbon QC has, for many years, consistently been cited by the legal directories as a leading barrister in Crime, described as:
‘A charmer with the jury’
‘Provides a seamless service’
Francis writes regularly for the London Review of Books (with recent articles on the reforms to legal aid and a miscarriage of justice in the USA). He contributed to A Practitioner's Guide to the Law and Regulation of Financial Crime (Sweet & Maxwell 2011).
Francis gives seminars at Doughty Street Chambers, in-house to solicitors, and in other venues, on subjects that include corporate homicide, aspects of criminal appeals, and the new contempt of Court laws. He has worked on numerous legal consultation exercises on behalf of the Criminal Bar Association and others.
Francis is licensed to take cases by Direct Access and is an accredited mediator.
Francis has appeared in numerous homicide cases, often representing clients charged on a ‘joint enterprise’ basis in gang-related murders. He has given evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee in their inquiry into the law of joint enterprise, and has appeared in the BBC documentary ‘Guilty by Association’.
He has successfully challenged conventional thinking about gang membership, by using expert evidence on the reasons young people join gangs, and the importance of music. In the case of R v B the defendant was acquitted by showing that his association with violent individuals had an innocent explanation. In R v C he used psychological evidence to show that a young and vulnerable defendant did not foresee that others in his group intended to kill.
Other murder cases have focussed on technical and medical issues, such as the effects of multiple underlying illnesses and brain damage.
Francis is regularly instructed in major drug trafficking cases, including R v A which concerned a major organised crime group dealing heroin in the north of England, and R v W, an appeal concerning top-end international drug trafficking.
Francis is regularly instructed to represent defendant charged with the most serious sexual offences, including R v P, who was charged with the rape of a 13 year old boy who he had others were alleged to have groomed, but due to his own vulnerability was allowed to plead guilty to less serious charges. In R v B, B was charged with rapes from 25 years previously. He pleaded guilty after a thorough investigation by the defence of the DNA evidence, relying on the renowned US scientist Dr Dan Crane.
Francis has developed this part of his practice since R v L in 2007, the Kieran Fallon horserace fixing case, in which he secured his client’s acquittal. Recently he appeared in a £120 million ‘missing trader’ fraud, and several multi-million pound confiscations, with successful outcomes for his clients. Francis has a particular interest in the law of confiscation, and is regularly instructed after conviction on a privately funded basis to deal with this aspect of proceedings. He contributed to A Practitioner's Guide to the Law and Regulation of Financial Crime (Sweet & Maxwell 2011).
Francis also has an extensive advisory practice where he is asked to advise on discrete criminal issues arising in litigation or other proceedings. One current example is his advice to US lawyers on cross-border issues in the case of USA v Bari, the trial of a man extradited from the UK on terrorism charges arising from the bombing US Embassies in East Africa in 1998. This case has been widely reported. He also gives pre-charge advice to clients potentially facing criminal proceedings.
Francis is regularly instructed in complex applications to the Court of Appeal, as well as advising on applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In particular, he is sought out by solicitors or convicted members of the public who require a second opinion after receiving negative advice (or no advice) from trial representatives.
He is currently representing David Morris at the Criminal Cases Review Commission, as the victim of a potential miscarriage of justice. This case concerns the safety of Mr Morris’s conviction of the murder of 4 members of the same family in South Wales in 1999, and has been widely reported.
Francis FitzGibbon QC has more than a decade’s experience as an Immigration Judge and has an in-depth knowledge of the law and procedure in immigration, asylum and deportation cases. Francis has a particular interest in business immigration and is well placed to advise corporate and individual clients on the whole range of issues arising within this area, including challenges to the Points Based System. He is authorised to accept such cases under the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme.
Magdalen College, Oxford
Criminal Bar Association
South Eastern Circuit
Centre for Criminal Appeals (Member of the advisory board)
European Criminal Bar Association
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