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‘She has a fantastic legal mind and excellent judgement to go with it.’ - Legal 500, 2019

Abigail is a leading junior who accepts instructions in all of chambers’ practice areas. She specialises in extradition, complex crime and terrorism which is enhanced by civil law work. She combines a rare depth of legal knowledge with cutting-edge ability as an advocate. She really cares about clients.

Between 2019 and 2020, Abigail led in a multi-handed terrorism re-trial, Operation Cycler II, concerning the proscribed group National Action. Her client was a young man with autism. At the first trial, Operation Cycler I, Abigail defended the first defendant of four on the indictment.

Later in 2020, Abigail is again defending an autistic man charged with terrorist offences, a Cambridge University mathematics graduate. Abigail is also instructed to defend in Operation Cymbaline arising from the arrests of Abigail’s lay clients, Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and brother of Jeremy Corbyn MP, and FH, by Counter-Terrorism Unit SO15 officers, MPS, led by Ben Cooper QC – trial listed on 23 October 2020.

In October 2019, invited by Master Treasurer, Abigail gave the Grand Day lecture at her Inn of Court, Middle Temple, on extradition, a lecture entitled ‘The Case Against Julian Assange’. Grand Day is described by the Inn on its website as ‘the biggest event in the Inn’s calendar’. That month, Abigail’s article on the Assange case was published by Counsel Magazine.

Abigail’s ten-year career at the Bar combines a thorough and intricate knowledge of civil and criminal law, including serving as counsel to four public inquiries between 2010 and 2019.  She has also appeared for families at inquests involving deaths in custody where coroners sit with jurors. Abigail regularly appears in the Court of Appeal in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions. She has a busy practice challenging search warrants, production orders and assets freezing orders. She has attended on site at Berkeley Square offices when HMRC has executed searches and she has sat in with solicitors to advise on interviews under caution by foreign investigators liaising with HMRC.

Cases of note include Restivo; Oakes and others [2013] 2 Cr.App.R.(S) 22, in which Abigail was led by Edward Fitzgerald QC.  This was a successful appeal of a whole life order as wrong in principle, cited in Archbold as authority for the proposition of law that the 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.

Six weeks later, Abigail successfully appealed a sentence for a Guatemalan national who had been used as a cross-border cocaine mule. Abigail secured an exceptional type of costs order to fund her instructing solicitor’s work: [2013] EWCA Crim 198. Granting Abigail’s application for a solicitor’s costs order, Leveson LJ (later P) observed (at [16]) ‘Yes, that would be extremely unusual, wouldn't it? I can't think of a sentence appeal where we would normally afford a representation both for solicitor and counsel.’ A sentence of five years' imprisonment for importation of cocaine was reduced to four years where new mitigating factors allowed the Court to place AA in a lesser role within the guidelines. Abigail first appeared at the application for leave.

Abigail has worked with Edward Fitzgerald in cases of constitutional importance including his championing of the ancient English right of individual private prosecution in the Supreme Court: The Queen (on the application of Gujra) v Crown Prosecution Service [2013] 1 A.C. 484.

In 2017 Abigail appeared for one of three claimant members of Parliament who brought proceedings in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to enforce a doctrine of constitutional convention – the 1966 Harold Wilson doctrine – against the respondent intelligence and security services: Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb AM, George Galloway v Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters, Secretary of State for The Home Department, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2017] 1 All E.R. 283. The claims concerned targeted and incidental interception of MPs' communications in respect of warrants obtained under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 s.8(1) and s.8(4) (date of accessing/selecting such communications).  The Tribunal was required to consider a preliminary issue relating to the meaning, effect and status of the Harold Wilson doctrine, and whether the system relating to interception of parliamentary communications complied with the Articles 8 – 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Law reform is of real interest to Abigail.  She is a founding committee member of an independent law reform organisation, the Criminal Law Reform Now Network (CLRNN), established in 2017 and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. CLRNN hosts university conferences on law reform at Oxford and Cambridge. In 2016, Abigail gave a lecture on English law reform at All Souls College, University of Oxford, to a delegation of standing law commissioners from the Nordic countries. Between 2007 and 2009, Abigail was the secretary of the Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) whilst a graduate student. The programme is run by the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford: it assists solicitors and barristers and prepares reports for committees such as the Joint Committee of Human Rights. In 2008 Abigail was one of the OPBP Burma (Myanmar) research team consisting of a group of postgraduate law students whose report was published in April 2008.

Abigail presently serves on the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee and was elected by her peers to serve on the Criminal Bar Association (2017 to 2020).

Abigail has been a guest lecturer for registrars since 2012 at the Institute of Psychiatry. She holds a diploma in forensic medical science (Dip.FMS), awarded after competitive examination by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and Barts and the London School of Medicine.

Abigail has worked abroad. She taught English as a foreign language at the University of Tsinghua in Beijing in 2007. She won the prize for best speaker at the United National Model Debates in Istanbul in 2010. She won a British Airways Leadership Scholarship to travel to India aged seventeen. She did a stage at the European Court of Human Rights in her first undergraduate year.

In 2020, Abigail was commended by Advocate, the Bar’s pro bono charity, for having worked for hundreds of hours in the last twelve months on cases as diverse as defences and counter claims in defamation cases; and advising several mothers and fathers in Hague Convention applications.

Abigail is presently representing a 75-year-old journalist imprisoned in Turkey and indicted with terrorism offences. In March 2020, Kirsty Brimelow QC and Abigail filed an individual application for their client with the European Court of Human Rights.  

 

Academic Career in Law

Abigail’s career as an academic in law started in her fourth year of university when she won the Dean’s Prize for achieving the highest overall marks in her year for her Law final examinations at University College, London. In the same year she won the Jeremy Bentham Prize for Jurisprudence and Political Theory which led to her spending a paid year to edit her university’s law journal. She went on to be appointed both as an honorary teaching fellow in law and an honorary researcher in law, starting first in English and History university departments and then in Law. She taught criminal law, evidence and jurisprudence at UCL. She taught European Union constitutional and competition law whilst reading for her Bachelor in Civil Law, Balliol College, University of Oxford, 2009, for which she attained a Distinction. She won a graduate assistance bursary from the University of Oxford. She was a researcher in law for Professor Ashworth at All Souls College.

Whilst a researcher in law, Abigail digested public law cases for the Administrative Court Digest.

Abigail worked on security-level research in law on judicial corruption among European courts.

Plaudits for Advocacy

Abigail was awarded her Inn’s most prestigious Bar studies award, the Queen Mother Scholarship. Abigail’s early debating career was crowned when she led her school’s debating team as captain of the Oxford Union debates. She debated at the Union as her school’s captain in 2001 and 2002. Abigail’s mooting career led to her winning the Middle Temple Speed Moots competition, a day of knock-out rounds. She was a keen competitor in the Rosamund Smith Mooting Cup.

Abigail now teaches ethics on her Inn’s pupil supervisors’ course; she is qualified as an Inns of Court approved advocacy trainer and as a pupil supervisor. Abigail mentors chambers’ pupils.

Abigail has joint responsibility for advocacy training hosted by the Kalisher Trust, a Bar charity.

Public Inquiries and Inquests

Abigail has been instructed as counsel both to non-statutory and statutory public inquiries. She was instructed by Eversheds LLP for the Department of Health as noting counsel to the Mid Staffordshire General NHS Hospital Trust Inquiry between 2010 and 2011. She was instructed by Fieldfisher LLP as counsel to the inquiry at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in 2016. She was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department as counsel to the inquiry at the Undercover Policing Inquiry from 2016 to 2018 and as counsel to the inquiry at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in 2019. Abigail has a proven grasp of the Inquiries Act 2005. She is well-placed to act for interested parties at public inquiries and for bereaved families at coroners’ inquests.

Abigail holds ‘strap room’ developed vetting for which she was sponsored by the Home Office.

In 2020, at a mock coroners’ inquest convened before Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Inner West London, Abigail demonstrated to Inn students the role of counsel for a bereaved family. The training session was filmed to be used as an advocacy teaching aid. Abigail persuaded the Coroner that a finding of suicide would be unsafe and should not be made after a hanging where there had been no toxicology tests obtained to demonstrate whether the deceased had consumed cocaine.

Professional Discipline and Regulation

Abigail prosecutes accountants for regulatory offences and advises on private prosecutions. She is experienced in defending doctors, dentists, barristers, and solicitors. Abigail’s criminal defence experience means she has particular expertise in defending cases concerning allegations of dishonesty and sexual misconduct. In 2019 she successfully defended a City solicitor in his appeal against his several convictions for violence at which his wife and two sons came to court to give evidence against him. She successfully defended a Bar school graduate when that student’s Inn of Court had decided not to permit that student to be Called to the Bar on the basis of material non-disclosure pertaining to an involuntary credit agreement.

In 2020, in the Court of Appeal Civil Division, Abigail appeared for a recently practising City solicitor in an application to commit him to prison for several breaches of High Court freezing orders. The application to commit to prison was made by the solicitor’s former firm and the firm’s insurer. The committal application was prosecuted by DAC Beachcroft and counsel at 4 New Square. The appeal was against the order of imprisonment and costs made on the indemnity basis.

Earlier this year, Abigail appeared for a businessman in his defence of an application to commit him to prison by his business rival. Instructed by Janes Solicitors, Abigail persuaded a judge sitting in the Commercial Court, Chancery Division, that the applicant was not able to pursue his application against Abigail’s lay client whilst an undischarged bankrupt. A day of legal argument was heard: an order for bankruptcy, preceded by the instituting of a committal application, resulted in the application vesting in the Official Receiver, not the undischarged bankrupt.

Judicial Reviews of Search Warrants; Challenges to Production and Freezing Orders

Abigail has acted for claimants in many judicial review claims in respect of search warrants against police forces or HMRC, all either conceded by the defendants or won in the High Court. She is experienced in drafting skeleton arguments in response to PII applications and s.59 applications.

Abigail’s reported cases have concerned solicitors as claimants and special procedure material.

She appeared in The Queen (on the application of S) v Chief Constable of the British Transport Police [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1647. Allowing the applications, search warrants for excluded material and special procedure material at solicitors' premises would be quashed for failure to comply with the requirements of PACE 1984, s.9 and Sch.1. Police had been attempting to trace a multiple murder suspect (S) in relation to an arson attack which had claimed the lives of eight people. 

Abigail appeared in a case that is reported as a Practice Note: The Queen (on the application of AB and CD) v Huddersfield Magistrates' Court; Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (re solicitors; search warrants) [2015] 1 W.L.R. 4737. Allowing the applications, a specific premises warrant issued by a magistrates' court under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, s.8, was held by the Court to be unlawful; the police had failed to inform the court that the occupants of the premises were solicitors, which on the facts was a relevant consideration; further, the warrant was unfocused in respect of the articles sought.

Abigail was instructed by Byrne and Partners in The Queen (on the application of Kouyoumjian) v Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court (defendant); Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) (interested party) [2015] A.C.D. 27. Allowing the application, 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). No authorities dealt specifically with the question of what factors should take into account when deciding whether or not to grant an order in such circumstances. At the time the police 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. There had been no explanation as to why. Both the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court had been misled as to the true position.

In 2020, Abigail secured a consent order recognising the unlawfulness of issue and execution of a warrant. The defendant Force conceded the illegality on the day of a listed PII application.

Special Jurisdiction Crime: Terrorism and Extradition

In crime, Abigail has chosen to focus on areas of special jurisdiction: fraud, terrorism, extradition and mutual legal assistance. She has twice given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees in the House of Lords and House of Commons on terrorism (2018) and the role of the Forensic Science Regulator (2019). She taught a delegation of judges on a ten-day residential course at a rule of law institute in Prague on terrorist financing, risk and money laundering (2019) organised by the Judicial Training Administration Institute in Bangladesh and the United States’ Department of Justice. Abigail’s particular focus was on the UN principles of press reporting of terrorism trials. Abigail assisted to draft a ‘routes to verdict’ Bar Bench on terrorism now approved and used by the judiciary in the terrorism courts in Dhaka and Jhalokathi, Bangladesh. Abigail was invited to judge the Nuremberg Moot Court competition and taught on the South Africa International Advocacy course.   

Terrorism

Some terrorist cases of note in which Abigail has appeared or is currently instructed include the following:

Operation Cymbaline: arrests of Piers Corbyn, astrophysicist and brother of Jeremy Corbyn MP, and FH, by Counter-Terrorism Unit SO15 officers, Metropolitan Police Service, led by Ben Cooper QC – trial listed on 23 October 2020.

Operation Nicodemean: trial listed in November 2020, Manchester Crown Court, of a graduate of Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, for an offence under s.58, Terrorism Act 2000.

Operation Enticer, Southwark Crown Court, September 2020, perverting the course of justice immediately before a series of interviews under caution for terrorism offences

Operation Darrien, Southwark CC, Bitcoin financing of terrorist activities, December 2019

Operation Cycler I, jury hung, defending first defendant of four on indictment, January to May 2019

Operation Cycler II, appearing as leading counsel for an autistic defendant, January to March 2020

Operation Gorlois, sole defendant of five to be acquitted, March to May 2018

Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance

Abigail is writing a title intended for publication by Oxford University Press, Extradition Appeals.

Abigail is regularly instructed to defend in non-EU extradition requests under Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 – most recently requests issued by India, the United States of America, Moldova, Albania and Australia. Over fourteen months spanning 2019 and 2020, Abigail was instructed as sole counsel to defend a dual UK-Nigerian citizen accused of fraud in New York and sought for prosecution by the United States of America. She conducted negotiations with the prosecutor by liaising with the defendant’s New York appointed lawyer to secure her client’s eligibility for bail upon his voluntary return to New York. The seriousness of the fraud schemes involved the theft and laundering of more than $2 million. The defendant’s alleged role was prominent as a principal perpetrator.

In 2020, Abigail also persuaded the Chief Magistrate, at the outset of extradition proceedings, to order a general reporting restriction of her lay client’s name in an Australian accusation request.

Earlier in 2020, at the very first hearing, Abigail secured GS’s discharge in extradition proceedings. GS was an Albanian national. Whereas the submitted that the framework list was ticked for ‘murder, grievous bodily harm’, Abigail clarified that that information was misleading. The true information was that the allegation was certainly not murder, a Polish Appeal Court having specifically ruled upon why the misconduct accused is ‘not to be regarded as murder’: see the judgment of 09 November 2012 of the Divisional Court (at [2]) in [2012] EWHC 3878 (Admin). The true information was that ‘fatal wounding’ was alleged, for which there is a reserved statutory maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. Abigail submitted that the real merits of this extradition request should be considered promptly that day, not on a later occasion. The issuing judicial authority unsuccessfully opposed this course. Abigail argued that plainly the warrant was a re-certification of exactly the same warrant (issued on 27 December 2011) on which discharge had before been ordered, the Divisional Court in 2012 having upheld that order as lawful. Careful scrutiny of the National Crime Agency’s certification demonstrated this. Abigail persuaded the judge to determine and rule the same day on the merits of the legal argument by submitting that the liberty of her lay client impelled doing so in issue. The judge agreed and acceded to Abigail’s application. A costs order was made.

Abigail has particular expertise of defending requests from Nordic EU Member States (Finland, Sweden and Denmark), and, in 2020, was instructed in the only two Finnish current cases before the UK courts: Abigail is challenging as unlawful the lack of independence of Finnish prosecutors.

She successfully defended in a German extradition request having raised section 13(a) of the Act, extraneous considerations, as a statutory bar to extradition that is rarely raised (‘the Part 1 warrant issued in respect of him (though purporting to be issued on account of the extradition offence) is in fact issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions’). In so doing Abigail challenged as unlawful, because politically motivated, Germany’s extradition request for a prominent 86-year-old Holocaust survivor who had been convicted in Germany of serial thefts for decades of Old Masters from Third Reich-funded art galleries and whose charitable trust had repatriated those works to Jewish galleries and museums.

Led by Edward Fitzgerald QC, Abigail’s defence of Mr Restivo in Italy v. Danilo Restivo (“the Hair Fetishist Killer”, convicted of two murders) resulted in the longest ever adjournment of an extradition request, adjourned by the Chief Magistrate from 2016 to “circa the year 2050”.

Led again by Edward Fitzgerald QC, Abigail’s defence of Mr Dhillon in Germany v. Dhillon led to permission to appeal being granted on the unprecedented and novel ground that Germany’s national constitutional arrangements barring extradition to non-EU countries amount to “non-reciprocity” and so offend basic precepts of international law. A day has been listed for argument.

Fraud, Cybercrime & Money Laundering

Abigail’s fraud practice spans both civil and criminal frauds. She was led by Peter Lownds of 2 Hare Court in 2015 in a boiler room fraud trial at Southwark Crown Court that resulted in Peter and Abigail’s client’s acquittal after six weeks. She was again led by Peter Lownds in 2018 and 2019 to defend a private prosecution of a businessman for fraudulent trading and trading and copyright offences brought by the British Phonographic Industry (‘BPI’). In 2020, Peter and Abigail are again together defending in ancillary applications for financial orders privately prosecuted by the BPI.

Abigail is co-defending in several multi-handed frauds listed for trial in London courts in 2021.

Before reading for the Bar, Abigail was instructed as a solicitors’ agent, for six months, for two defendants, to note each day of a multi-handed mass cocaine importation trial by the then Resident Judge at Oxford Crown Court. Abigail gained an early and comprehensive insight of litigation by liaising daily between solicitors and instructed counsel, attending upon the defendants in the cells.

The defendants were acquitted. As a pupil, Abigail was instructed by solicitors at a civil fraud department, acting for Commerzbank AG, for twelve weeks, to note a multi-handed fraud trial.

Drugs; Murder

Abigail has served for three years to date (2017 to present) on the independent Forensic Science Advisory Council of the Forensic Science Regulator and on Home Office Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group and Forensic Science Regulatory Committees. She regularly attends the ‘Science and the Law’ programme of lectures at the Royal Society.

Abigail is a co-author of The Drugs Offences Handbook published by Bloomsbury in 2018.

Joe Stone QC led Abigail in four murder trials in Abigail’s first two years as a tenant. A trial at the Central Criminal Court concerned an Indian man who had served for years as a police officer who killed his wife in London days into an arranged marriage entered into by choice. Professor Nigel Eastman and Professor Michael Kopelman reported that the defendant suffered from the rarer than rare psychiatric disorder of morbid or pathological jealousy (‘Othello syndrome’). The Crown decided to accept a plea of guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

Abigail has defended in tens of rape trials and cross-examined child complainants per s.28.