Our Inquests and Public Inquiries team has established itself over a number of years as one of the leading providers in this field through its excellent and groundbreaking work. The team comprises barristers who between them have expertise across a large number of wide-ranging areas of law including inquests and inquiries involving police, healthcare, prisons, housing, immigration and care homes. The core strengths of our barristers in this field include their ability to be responsive and sensitive towards their lay clients, and being tenacious in seeking the truth. This is matched with expert legal knowledge and attention to detail. Our barristers are instructed both by interested persons in inquests, by core participants in inquiries and as counsel to inquest and inquiries. Several of our barristers also sit as Assistant Coroners.

In the last 12 months we have continued to act in the most sensitive and high-profile inquests, including the fresh inquests into the victims of the Birmingham bombing, the inquest into the death of Poppi Worthington, the inquest into the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, the inquest into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, the Russian “super grass”, and the inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton at Deepcut Barracks. 

Our recent inquiry work includes the Anthony Grainger Inquiry which was established as a statutory public inquiry by then Home Secretary, Theresa May in March 2016 to investigate the circumstances by which Anthony Grainger (who was unarmed) came to be shot dead by Greater Manchester Police.  The oral evidence heard revealed a catalogue of errors in the planning, command, control and execution of the police operation culminating in the resort to lethal force despite the absence of imminent life-threatening danger. The Inquiry’s report is awaited.  Adam Straw and Fiona Murphy act as counsel to the deceased’s mother and partner respectively.

Currently many members of the team are instructed in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, both as Counsel for Core Participants and as Counsel to the Inquiry. Aswini Weereratne QC, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Keina Yoshida, Angela Patrick and Jonathan Price represent Core Participants in several of the investigations, including those relating to Children Outside the UK and Nottinghamshire. Henrietta Hill QC is Deputy Counsel to the Inquiry and leads Adam Straw on the Children in Custodial Institutions investigation and Antonia Benfield on the Children Outside the UK investigation.  Katie O’Byrne, Tim Cooke-Hurle and Amelia Nice are also instructed as Counsel to the Inquiry in several of the investigations, including those relating to Westminster and Accountability and Reparations.

Doughty Street counsel are also instructed in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, established by the Prime Minister to investigate the events of 14 June 2017 and the causes and contributions to the loss of 72 lives.  Counsel instructed include David Lemer, Fiona Murphy, Jamie Burton, and Mark Henderson; they represent bereaved, survivor and resident core participants within all three of the main victim Core Participant groupings before the Inquiry.

Ruth Brander is currently instructed in the Undercover Police inquiry on behalf of the non-police, non-state core participants. The inquiry was established to investigate and report on undercover police operations conducted by police forces in England and Wales since 1968, in particular the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit which are now known to have infiltrated political, social, environmental and family justice campaigns. Other members of the team have also been instructed to represent various victims of undercover policing during the preliminary hearings, including Fiona Murphy who was instructed by a significant number of women deceived into relationships with undercover officers and the only child known to be born of one of those relationship, as well as on behalf of the families affected by the theft of identities. Jude Bunting has represented the Guardian News & Media in relation to a number of preliminary issues, including challenging the anonymity orders sought by numerous former undercover police officers.

At Doughty Street we consider the work we undertake in inquests and inquiries to be core to our values and our commitment to civil liberties and human rights. We work closely with case workers at INQUEST, and with the Inquest Lawyers Group, in support of bereaved families to seek to ensure the voices of the bereaved are heard, and that they have legal representation in the inquest process, in public law challenges and related civil actions. We are a team that prides itself on providing counsel who are skillful and knowledgeable advocates with a depth of knowledge across a wide range of fields, and who conduct this work fearlessly and with compassion.  

For more information about our barristers with expertise in inquests and public inquiries, please contact Melvin Warner from our practice management team.