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Christopher Williams

  • Call: 1988
Christopher Williams


Chris Williams practises in public law with an emphasis on inquests, immigration law, prisoners’ rights, mental health and emergency injunctions against public bodies. He also brings civil actions against the police, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, including personal injuries and unlawful detention. Additionally, Chris brings judicial review challenges to decisions by magistrates’ and youth courts. He has also covered a number of successful judicial review challenges to police cautions.

Chris was engaged in the Hillsborough Inquests for four years as one of the leading counsel representing a number of families who lost relatives in the disaster. He was also part of the team which assisted the Hillsborough Family Support Group at the High Court hearing in 2012 when the original inquests were successfully quashed.

In 2016, Chris won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards for his contribution to the Hillsborough inquests alongside other lawyers who represented the bereaved families.

Chris has experience in petitioning the European Court of Human Rights and has the appropriate Bar Human Rights accreditation to do so (ALBA 2000).

He takes a keen interest in all aspects of work in the public law and human rights field from appearing before tribunals to pursuing judicial reviews in the higher courts. He is able to take on cases in the area of public law outside those listed above. Additionally, Chris has successfully represented asylum seekers charged with immigration related offences before the criminal courts.

Chris has been registered to take on public access work since 2011. He also has experience in conducting cases under conditional fee agreements.

Notable Cases

Inquest into the death of Demi Williams, St Pancras Coroner, 16th December 2016
This involved a death of psychiatric patient in the community, where despite Art.2 being out of scope, the coroner returned a critical narrative and made two prevention of future death reports.  

Proctor v Chief Constable Cleveland 9th November 2016
Chris acted for the claimant/appellant who obtained a grant of permission to appeal by Gloster LJ in the Court of Appeal.

Home Office v SM, September 2016
Appeal against exclusion of refugee status under Art 1F(a) of the Refugee Convention.

Inquest into the death of Simon McBride at HMP Liverpool 7 July 2016.
The Jury’s narrative conclusion included neglect in a self inflicted prison death and also identified, pursuant to Article 2, a number of systemic failures concerning the assessment of prisoner with mental health problems.

Inquest into the death of Andrew Peebles at HMP Wymott, 19th May 2016
The jury returned a Narrative conclusion enclosing a finding that the failure to perform a mental health assessment amounted to neglect and caused the death.

Hillsborough Inquests
Chris was engaged in the Hillsborough Inquests for four years (concluding on 26 April 2016) as one of the leading counsel representing a number of families who lost relatives in the disaster. He was also part of the team, which assisted the Hillsborough Family Support Group at the High Court hearing in 2012 when the original inquests were successfully quashed.

Gronblom & Bathory v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Central London County Court 28th November 2012
Chris acted for two animal rights protesters in a wrongful arrest case which successfully challenged the misuse of s.14(1) of the Public Order Act 1986, by the police, against peaceful protesters.

R (Aly) v HM Coroner for Bridgend and Glamorgan Valleys, September 2011
In an urgent judicial review challenge to a coroners refusal to order a non-dissecting autopsy, based on Art.9 ECHR (religious belief) and Art.8 (family life) Silber J paid tribute to the advocates  stating that “each party has put forward their submissions skilfully and the points have been argued with great skill by both Counsel”.

Inquest touching on the death of Alan Guite, October 2011
HM Coroner for Manchester 2011 – The jury concluded that his suicide had been contributed to by the neglect of the prison health care services at HMP Manchester.

R v C [2011] EWCA Crim 2911
Refugee Convention Art 31 defence for possession of false identity documents.

Pro Bono assistance to Canadian lawyers acting for the First Nation Beaver Lake Cree
In January 2011 Chris provided pro bono assistance to Canadian lawyers acting for the First Nation Beaver Lake Cree seeking to challenge the grant of licences by the Canadian Government to oil corporations in the notorious Tar Sands Project, which was the First Nation’s traditional hunting grounds.

Inquest into the death of Michael Clegg at HMP Leeds March 2010
Verdict of unlawful killing following an assault by another prisoner. The jury’s Article 2 narrative identified 30 systemic failures relating to Prison Service risk-assessment procedures regarding cell sharing.

KB (Trinidad & Tobago) [2010] EWCA Civ 11; [2010] 1 WLR 1631
Resisting Secretary of State’s appeal against the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s finding that a criminal deportation violated Article 8.

R (Haider) v Entry Clearance Officer [2009] EWHC 3008 (Admin)
Judicial Review of an Entry Clearance Officer’s refusal to obey a determination of the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Tribunal.

R v Lowe (Steven) [2009] EWCA Crim 2321
Unlawfully imposed extended sentence for indecent assault.

SH (Palestinian Territories) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWCA Civ 1150

AK (Iran) [2008] EWCA Civ 941; [2009] Imm AR 93; [2009] INLR 577
Appeal against refusal of Asylum and Immigration Tribunal to adjourn an asylum appeal of an Iranian transsexual. Following remittal by the Court of Appeal, to the tribunal the appeal was allowed.

Simon Murden inquest HMC for Hull 2008
A police shooting case where Chris acted as junior counsel for the family.

AK (Palestine) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] Imm AR 81
Chris appeared as leading counsel before the Court of Appeal in a case which raised issues of whether stateless Palestinians prevented from returning to the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel were entitled to refugee recognition, Article 3 ECHR protection, and rights to reside in the UK founded on Article 8 ECHR and the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954.

Inquest into the Death of Tom Hurndall April 2006
A case involving the shooting of a peace campaigner by an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip. Arguments were advanced concerning the applicability of Article 2 ECHR in the context of death in violation of the Geneva Convention Act 1957.

R v H (Isleworth Crown Court) September 2005
An acquittal before a jury where the defendant, a refugee, was charged with an offence of being unable to produce a travel document upon arrival in the UK contrary to s.2 Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004. This was one of a very small number of acquittals for this offence. The acquittal was achieved by the defence using live evidence from a country expert – a tactic which practitioners who had predominantly criminal practices were not considering at the time.

Inquest into death of Guardsman Craig Lashley, Stourport on Severn Coroners Court 2003
An accidental death during a military exercise in Jamaica where the Coroner agreed that Article 2 ECHR applied to the inquest and where the jury found that there had been systemic failures which contributed to the death.

Daraz v SSHD [2002] INLR 462
Concerned the question of whether Article 1D of the Refugee Convention was a contingent inclusion clause which automatically entitled stateless Palestinians to Refugee Recognition.

Inquest into the death of Errol McGowan, Telford Coroners Court (2001)
A hanging case where there had been a background of racial harassment of the deceased. Chris was junior counsel at the inquest.

MNM v SSHD [2000] INLR 576
Heard within days of commencement of the Human Rights Act in October 2000, to decide the question of whether immigration cases engaged Article 6 of the ECHR. It was concluded that whilst Strasbourg jurisprudence provided that Article 6 did not apply in immigration cases, nonetheless, common law principles applied to achieve the same result.

R v SSHD ex parte Adan, Aitsegur, Subaskaran [1999] INLR 362
A third country removal to Germany violated the Refugee Convention due to lack of protection from refoulement in cases of a risk of persecution by non-state actors.

R v SSHD ex parte Ahmed & Patel (Coward) [1998] INLR 570
Establishes that unincorporated international conventions, which have been ratified, are capable of giving rise to a legitimate expectation of compliance with their terms by the state.

R v Wignall (Phillip George) [1997] CLY 288
Courts Martial appeal against conviction.

Kaja v Secretary of State for the Home Department [1995] Imm AR 1
Established for the first time before the Immigration Appeal Tribunal that a lower standard of proof applied to asylum appeals, namely, ‘a reasonable degree of likelihood’.

R v London Borough of Newham ex parte Gentle [1994] 26 HLR 466
Challenge to the rationality of a housing policy.


Chris commenced full time practice at the Bar in 1991 prior to which he worked as an Immigration Adviser and advocate in the voluntary sector for one and a half years. Chris has undertaken a considerable number of pro bono cases in different areas of law during his time at the Bar. He was also on the management committee of Hackney Community Law Centre between 1992 and 2001. This included holding the post of Chair. Chris covered cases on a regular basis for the bar Free Representation Unit (FRU) between 1988 and 1997.


Appointed as a part-time Assistant Coroner for Inner London South Area in July 2011.