Profile image
Steven Powles is a specialist criminal lawyer with particular expertise in international crime, extradition and human rights.

He has represented a number of high profile clients, accused of the most serious crimes, before both international and domestic courts.

Steven is head of Doughty Street International.

Chambers and Partners 2017: Experienced international criminal lawyer … particularly well versed in handling matters relating to human rights, false imprisonment and war crimes.”

Legal 500 2016: “Very intellectually and practically able.”

International Crime

Steven has been working in the field of international crime for nearly 20 years. He first worked as a legal assistant to a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and then as representative of Trinidad and Tobago during international negotiations on the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Steven has appeared in numerous cases before nearly all the various international courts and tribunals:

  • International Criminal Court: successfully defended former Kenyan Government Minister accused of Crimes Against Humanity. Represented lawyer accused of procuring false testimony on behalf of his client in ICC’s first Article 70 case.
  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: successfully defended member of Kosovo Liberation Army accused of War Crimes (in separate proceedings represented various witnesses, including a Washington Post reporter).
  • Special Court for Sierra Leone: represented members of both RUF and CDF.

He has previously served as a consultant in the Legal Advisory Section to the UN International Independent Investigation Commission investigating the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon.

Steven is co-author of one of the leading practitioner texts on international crime ‘International Criminal Practice’ (OUP).

Human Rights

Steven is regularly instructed in cases raising human rights issues in both domestic courts and before the European Court of Human Rights:

  • Silvio Berlusconi v Italy: Case challenging the fairness of Berlusconi’s conviction and compatibility with Article 6 (Fair Trial) of the ECHR.
  • Stephen Gough (The Naked Rambler) v UK: Case regarding the freedom expression (Article 10) to appear naked in public.
  • Beghal v UK: Challenge to compatibility of interviews under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with Articles 5, 6 and 8 of the ECHR. Arising from Supreme Court case of Beghal v DPP [2015] UKSC 49.
  • Dedvukaj and Dedvukaj v Montenegro: Representing two American nationals accused of coup attempt in Montenegro. Case regarding treatment upon arrest (Article 3) and fairness of trial (Article 6).
  • Bahmanzadeh v UK: Case regarding the need for Special Counsel in domestic appeal proceedings in which public interest immunity material is considered for the first time by the Court of Appeal.

Steven has conducted numerous extradition cases under both the 1989 and 2003 Extradition Acts.

  • Khelifa v Algeria  [2013] EWHC 4204 (Admin) First Algerian extradition request to the United Kingdom. Concerned the president of one of Algeria’s first private banks, accused of serious fraud leading to the bank’s collapse amid losses of over $1 billion.
  • PH and HH v Italy [2012] UKSC 25 Leading case on application of Article 8 (Family life) regarding interests of young children in extradition proceedings.
  • La Torre v Italy [2007] EWHC 1370 (Admin) Extradition request for alleged member of Camorra/mafia association accused of numerous murders.
  • King’s Prosecutor Brussels v Cando Armas [2005] UKHL 67 – First case under Extradition Act 2003 to proceed to the House of Lords.
Terrorism, protest cases and politically motivated crime

Steven has appeared in a number of high profile terrorist and protest cases:

  • C v HM Treasury [2016] EWHC 2039 (Admin) – First contested challenge of decision to freeze assets under Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010 to proceed to full hearing at High Court. C was brother of high profile preacher and alleged to have provided funds to Al-Muhajiroun - a proscribed terrorist organisation. 
  • R v McCartney and others – Defended former IRA member accused of conspiracy to blackmail (January 2010).
  • R v S and A [2008] EWCA Crim 2177 – Case arising out of alleged conspiracy to breach a Control Order, possession of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism (sec. 58 Terrorism Act 2000) and first prosecution under section 53 of Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 for failure to disclose encryption key code.
  • R v Ul Haq and others [2008] EWCA Crim 2910 – Defended in terrorist case arising out of international conspiracy to cause explosions in both UK and USA.
  • R v Tadman and others - Peace activists charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage after causing £180,000 of damage to an arms factory in Brighton. Defence was one of legal justification on the basis that they were seeking to protect civilian life and property during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009 [2011]
  • R v Kirtley and others – Defended animal rights protestor accused of conspiracy to interfere with contractual relations as to harm an animal research organization [2009]
Victim Representation

Steven has represented victims of both international and domestic crime. He regularly advises NGO’s and victims’ groups on possible prosecution of those responsible and has acted in securing financial compensation for victims of crime.

  • Al-Sweady Inquiry – Represented group of former Iraqi detainees and families of deceased at Public Inquiry into alleged misconduct and breach of international law by British armed forces. To read the Inquiry Report please see here.
  • Ministry of Justice v Scott [2009] EWCA Civ 1215 – Compensation secured for victim of assault by Prison Officers and malicious prosecution based on false evidence provided by state employees.
  • RK v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority – Represented victim of vicious stabbing in appeal against decision to refuse compensation. Victim received award in excess of £100,000.
Lecturing and training
  • Contributor to Chatham House/Doughty Street ‘Milestones’ series.
  • Lectured team of OSCE monitors on elements of international crimes (Sarajevo, Bosnia).
  • Lectured members of British armed forces on laws of war and at NATO lawyers' conference (Moenchengladbach, Germany).
  • Lectured on human rights law for European Roma Rights Centre (Romania) and Interights (Azerbaijan).
  • Organised and provided legal and advocacy training to members of Sierra Leone bar to appear at Special Court for Sierra Leone (Freetown, Sierra Leone).
  • Regularly lecture for NGO's (Amnesty International, Redress, No Peace Without Justice) and universities on human rights and international law.
  • Advocacy Trainer – train junior barristers using Hempel method.

Over 100 TV and radio appearances: CNN, BBC World, BBC News 24, Sky News, ITN news, Channel 4 News, The World Today. Commenting mainly on proceedings against Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Charles Taylor.
Published in The Guardian - Charles Taylor trial (2012) and The Times - Saddam Hussein proceedings (2004), International Criminal Court (2002), Fair Trials in Kosovo (2000).