Gavin Millar QC

Year of Silk


Year of Call

Gavin Millar QC

“A really big gun” (Chambers & Partners 2013).

He is at “the top of his game” (Legal 500).

Amongst the most influential people in the media (Guardian Media 100).

Media Law and Defamation

Gavin Millar specialises in defamation, privacy, contempt and reporting restrictions. He has appeared in numerous leading cases. He is the co-author of Media Law and Human Rights (2009 Oxford University Press). He is a Council of Europe expert on freedom of expression and is the Chair of the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Gavin represented the media in Re S [2005] AC 593, the landmark case on the balance between privacy and freedom of expression. He was also in In re BBC [2010] 1 AC 145 on which fair trial rights were considered as well. Other leading cases include Jameel (Yousef) v Dow Jones [2005] QB 946 (internet libel), Roberts v Gable [2008] QB 502 (reportage), Mersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd (No 2) [2008] EMLR 1 (journalistic source protection) and Trinity Mirror v Croydon Crown Court [2008] QB 770 (reporting restrictions).

In recent years he has represented the UK media in R (On the application of Binyam Mohammed) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2010] 3 WLR 554; a former member of MI5 seeking to publish a book about his time in the service in A v B (Investigatory Powers Tribunal: Jurisdiction) [2010] 2 AC 1; and a radio journalist challenging an Ofcom offensiveness ruling, Gaunt v Ofcom [2011] 1 WLR 2355. He now represents Mr Gaunt in an Art 10 application to Strasbourg which has been communicated to the UK government.

In 2011 he successfully defended the Sunday Mirror at trial in Rio Ferdinand v MGN Limited [2011] EWHC 2454 (QB).

In April 2012 Gavin won the important case of R (on the application of Guardian News and Media Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court) [2013] QB 618, establishing the right of journalists to see documents referred to in criminal proceedings. In May 2012 he represented various news broadcasters in R. (on the application of British Sky Broadcasting Ltd) v Chelmsford Crown Court [2012] 2 Cr App R 33 in which the High Court quashed production orders requiring production of over 100 hours of unbroadcast news footage of the Dale farm evictions.

In Her Majesty’s Attorney General v The Times Newspapers Limited [2013] ACD 42 Gavin successfully represented the defendant in a strict liability contempt proceedings case, after the newspaper published a defendant’s previous conviction on the front page.

Gavin represented the Telegraph Media Group at the Leveson Inquiry. He represents Glenn Mulcaire in the mobile phone - interception litigation in the Chancery Division and took his client’s claim to privilege against self-incrimination to the Supreme Court in May 2013 (Phillips v NGN Limited and Mulcaire [2013] 1 AC 1). He also represented Mulcaire in the criminal phone-hacking case, R v Brooks and others.

Gavin was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK media in the Guardian Media One Hundred 2012. He was also recognised as the Chambers & Partners Privacy/Defamation Silk for 2012.

In June 2013 he successfully defended the Sunday Times at a three week libel trial, through a combination of justification and Reynolds defences. The claim was based on a 2010 article “Underworld Kings Cash in on Taxpayer Land Fund”. In 2013 he advised the Guardian in relation to the disclosures made by the former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden. He is currently acting for the Sun in the libel claim brought by Andrew Mitchell MP over its reporting of the “plebgate” allegations. A trial has been listed in November 2014

In R (BSkyB Ltd) v Central Criminal Court [2014] 2 WLR 558 Gavin obtained a ruling from the Supreme Court emphasising that judges cannot use closed material procedures when the police apply for the production of journalistic material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. He represented the media in JC and RT v Central Criminal Court [2014] 2 Cr App R 13 establishing that Crown Court orders which prevent the media from identifying young defendants expire automatically when the young person reaches 18. An appeal is being heard by the Court of Appeal in this case in November 2014.        

Gavin recently made the first application for a jury trial of a libel action since the implementation of the Defamation Act 2013. See Tim Yeo MP v TNL [2014] EWHC 2853 (QB).

He is acting for the applicants in Bureau of Investigative Journalism v United Kingdom, an ECtHR application filed in September 2014. This important case challenges the domestic regime under which the state covertly access confidential journalistic material, including information identifying confidential journalistic sources, as incompatible with Art 10. 


Employment Law and Industrial Relations

Gavin regularly appears in the Employment Tribunals, and in the High Court and appellate courts in employment cases. Many of his cases concern the rights of public sector workers. He specialises in judicial review applications for office holders and equal pay cases in the public sector.

In Brennan v Sunderland City Council  [2012] ICR 1183 it was established an employment tribunal does not have jurisdiction to determine claims for contribution under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 between persons jointly or concurrently liable for damage caused by unlawful discrimination in the employment field.

He appeared in the European Court of Justice and the House of Lords in one of the leading cases on the Acquired Rights Directive, North Wales TEC v Astley. In 2007 he appeared in Carter v Ahsan (HL(E)) [2008] 1 AC 696 a leading authority on the jurisdiction of employment tribunals in discrimination cases. In 2008 he represented the Police Federation of England and Wales in its judicial review challenge to the refusal of the Home Secretary to implement the annual pay award of the Police Arbitration Tribunal.

Administrative and Public Law

Gavin Millar has conducted public law cases at all levels of the court system in England and Wales. His public law practice covers parliamentary, local government, education and election law. He has appeared at a number of major public inquiries including those into the Clapham Junction rail disaster, the Westminster City Council “homes for votes” scandal and the second Ashworth Special Hospital Inquiry. He was an elected member of a London council between 1985 and 1994, serving on its Housing and Social Services Committees.

Gavin is recognised as a leading election law specialist. He has appeared in numerous election petition cases. In March 2008 he appeared for the claimant at the Slough Central Ward election trial which exposed the unlawful electoral practice of “roll-stuffing”, enabling postal votes to be cast on behalf of non-existent voters. In 2010 he represented Phil Woolas, accused of making false statements of fact about the personal character or conduct of his opponent, both before the Parliamentary Election Court sitting in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency and in a subsequent judicial review challenge. See R (on the application of Woolas) v Parliamentary Election Court [2011] 2 WLR 1362, a test case on the reviewability of a Parliamentary Election Court comprising two High Court judges. He also appeared in R v Chayter, Morley and Devine [2010] 2 Cr App R 34 a test case on the ambit of Parliamentary privilege.

Equality and Discrimination

Gavin has often represented claimants in equal pay "multiples" against public authorities. In May he appeared for the GMB union in a landmark case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal which established that contribution orders could not be made by Employment Tribunals in equal pay cases Brennan v Sunderland City Council  [2012] ICR 1183

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