Dexter Dias QC
Dexter Dias QC is a barrister (Queen’s Counsel) who has been instructed in some of the biggest cases of recent years involving human rights, murder, crimes against humanity, terrorism, war crimes and genocide. Additionally, he has played a pivotal role in public inquiries and inquests that are watersheds in the developing law of the land (Zahid Mubarek Inquiry, Gareth Myatt & Cherry Groce inquests). His distinctive rights-based style of advocacy, marked by a passionate commitment to fundamental freedoms and social justice, resulted in his winning the TMG award for Outstanding Contribution to Advocacy and Justice, and being finalist in Liberty and JUSTICE’s prestigious Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award, short-listed by a panel of judges including Baroness Hale of the Supreme Court. He was nominated for “his outstanding commitment to the rule of law and justice for all; for his deep devotion to ensure that the voices of the weakest in society are heard.” He has been instrumental in changing the law to better protect young women and girls at risk of FGM and works internationally on human rights with victims and survivors of abuse of institutional power and harmful social practices. He is ranked by the Legal 500 and Chambers UK as a Leading Silk in Crime and Civil Liberties, which recommend him as being:
“Phenomenally intelligent, he is a fantastic advocate with great analytical skills and compassion for the clients”
“He instills absolute confidence in his clients as he considers everything.”
“An unstoppable force of nature in court”
“He is fantastic, is a real team player and has a great advocacy style that’s great to watch”
“He worked relentlessly for us, achieving a fantastic outcome”
“Nothing if not determined to seek the best result for his client”
“He instils absolute confidence in his clients as he considers everything”
“Is passionate and extremely intelligent”
“Extremely knowledgeable and committed”
“Formidable intellect together with an incisive grasp of the issues at hand”
“He is very good at getting to the nub of the issue and engaging with the issues the jury cares about”
“One of the leading lights of the legal profession”
Dexter is also a prize-winning scholar of Cambridge University, having been elected to a Foundation Scholarship at Jesus College and winning the Lopez-Rey Prize for the highest Distinction in his research degree at the Faculty of Law’s Institute of Criminology, where he critically analysed the use of state coercive force on vulnerable young people in custody. His concern about this area arose after representing the mother of Gareth Myatt at the inquest into her son’s death following restraint by prison officers. Gareth was 15 years old, one of the youngest people to die in custody. Dexter has also been pursuing his ambition of creating fairer and more socially just legal systems by way of research at Harvard University.
He has lectured and presented his research at Cambridge and Harvard; addressed major international conferences; and spoken on many national platforms around human rights and social justice issues, Violence Against Women and Girls and FGM. He chaired and co-wrote the influential Bar Human Rights Committee Report to the Parliamentary Inquiry into FGM and was instrumental in changing the law to strengthen the national protective mechanism; has had his research cited in both Houses of Parliament; had his work paid tribute to by the Home Affairs Select Committee for its critical analysis of the defects in the UK’s rights protections; has written reports to the United Nations and briefed the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls.
In 2016, he was instructed in one of the biggest international law and human rights cases in the world (ongoing) between two sovereign governments, involving massive historic violations of human rights and genocide.
In 2016, he secured the acquittal of a youth accused of gang-related murder; he also secured the acquittal of a man accused of an Albanian Mafia-related murder.
In 2015, he secured his lay client’s acquittal of murder in a gangland execution case.
In 2014, he obtained the acquittal of murder of his lay client in the nationally reported Leicester House Fire murder; he also acted for the lead defendant in a £170 million money laundering case.
In 2014, he also appeared in the landmark Jake Hardy inquest in which the jury returned a devastating narrative verdict severely critical of failures to care for and protect a highly vulnerable child in prison who hanged himself. He was leading counsel in the Cherry Groce inquest, a case of historic national importance where a mother was shot in the back in her home, an event that led to the Brixton Riots. He represented Cherry Groce’s family and secured a highly critical verdict against the Metropolitan Police.
In 2013, he secured the acquittal of his lay client in a three-month ‘cut-throat’ murder trial at the Old Bailey; conducted one of the biggest ‘Bollywood’ fraud trials; appeared in a four-month gang-related execution trial. In May 2012, he secured the acquittal of his lay client in a major fraud and money laundering case, applying to dismiss the prosecution pre-trial. He was the only counsel to succeed in this application.
In February 2012, he secured the acquittal of his client following an attempted murder trial that was nationally reported and involved a government ‘code-breaker’ expert witness.
In the summer of 2010, Dexter played a vital role in an internationally reported arms protest case, cross-examining the chief prosecution witness for four days, and in which he helped develop the domestic defence of preventing war crimes abroad. All nine defendants were acquitted. Read the national news story for more.
During 2010, he conducted a five-month trial at the Old Bailey in which his client was acquitted of murder, attempted murder and manslaughter. The case involved the murder of the son of the former Prime Minister of Somalia.
Dexter’s reputation for human rights work placed him at the forefront of the wave of terrorist trials that have mapped new territory in the balance between national security and civil liberties. He was leading counsel in the ‘Soldier Beheading Plot’ case (Operation Gamble), one of the first prosecutions under the ‘duty to inform’ provisions of the new Terrorism Act. He conducted the ‘Terrorist Training Camps’ case (linked to 21/7 London bombings) – the first prosecution under the Terrorism Act 2006 (Operation Over Amp), where he appeared for the principal defendant. He provided emergency advice in the matter of O, a case involving the detention conditions for those convicted of terrorist offences. He advised and appeared in the Bristol suicide bombing plot terrorist case (Operation Vulcanise).
A list of some of Dexter’s previous significant cases can be found here.
Bar Human Rights Committee: Chair Working Group on FGM; seminal report to Parliamentary Inquiry on FGM. Secured positive changes in law.
Centre for Community, Gender and Social Justice, University of Cambridge: Affiliate; developing social justice initiative.
NHS/Department of Health: selected by NHS to lecture around country on FGM and human rights to large audiences (St James Park, Newcastle; Bramhall Lane, Sheffield).
Harvard and Cambridge Universities: Visiting Researcher, social justice and human rights.
Law Commission: Consulted by the Law Commission working group reviewing Fitness to Plead, and made a major contribution to drafting a more effective assessment protocol.
Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody: Independent Advisory Panel: Appointed to the Stakeholders Group of the IAP, chaired by Lord Harris, to provide independent expertise and advice to work to create safer systems of custody and reduce the incidence of prison deaths.
Chair, Bar Equality Training: From January 2010-13 Dexter was Chair of the Bar’s Equality Training sub-committee, determined to promote equality training and understanding of gender, race and disability rights throughout the profession, following Lord Neuberger’s report on Entry to the Bar. He actively contributed to the committee’s work from 2008 and has been one of the Bar’s principal trainers for several years.
Governor, INQUEST: Dexter is very proud to have been appointed a Governor of the charity INQUEST, the only organisation in the UK to provide free advice and support to bereaved families following contentious deaths in custody. While Dexter has been a Governor, the charity has won the prestigious Longford Prize for outstanding work in the field of penal and social reform which demonstrates qualities of humanity, courage, persistence and originality.
Parliament: contributor to briefing on the Coroner’s & Justice Bill 2009, which in part led to Government shelving of plans for ‘secret inquests’ into controversial deaths involving the State.
Annual Bar Conference: In November 2009, Dexter was invited to speak at the profession’s major conference of the year. He used the opportunity to highlight the alarming number of women dying in prison and the urgent need for a fundamental reappraisal of the Government’s approach to women in custody following the report by Baroness Corston.
Bar Standards Board: appointed from 2008 to the profession’s regulatory body (Standards Committee).
Patron, UNLOCK: Dexter has been appointed a patron of UNLOCK, the independent charity that works with reformed offenders to assist them putting their lives back on track so they can fulfill their potential through equality of opportunity, and an understanding of their rights and social responsibilities.
Public funding: appointed to Bar Council committee, convened by Chairman of Bar, to oppose Government plans that would destroy the fabric of legal services. Dexter’s legal analysis of compliance and equality issues constituted a significant part of the Bar’s official response.
Human Rights and Equality Training: Dexter is strongly committed to the project of promoting Human Rights and Equality, and regularly provides free training in these areas to barristers chambers, Specialist Bar Associations and solicitors firms.
Advocacy Trainer, Inner Temple: Senior advocacy trainer for Inn, also trainer on Equality and Ethics.
Victim’s Advocate Scheme: volunteer counsel in the pilot scheme to provide an enhanced voice for the families of victims of crime.
BBC: Dexter was chosen by the BBC to represent the Defence and Human Rights Bar on Radio 4’s factual programme ‘Between Ourselves’. He appeared with Nicholas Hilliard QC; the programme was selected as one the BBC’s Picks of the Week.
Ambassador, Make Justice Work: appointed Ambassador of Make Justice Work, an innovative campaign aimed at making the criminal justice system fairer and more effective.
Cases That Changed Our Lives, Stop The Traffik: selected to author chapter for international publication to support global movement for preventing human trafficking.
Publications and Media
Dexter has been published numerous times in the national and legal press on human rights and social justice issues and has regularly appeared on television and radio. He is also an internationally published novelist with bestsellers in the UK and abroad. His first novel, the thriller False Witness, was a top 20 bestseller in the UK. He has followed it up with four further globally published novels. He has been published by Time Warner in the US. His books have been translated into Japanese, Dutch, German and Finnish. Above the Law was a number two bestseller in South Africa. His fifth novel Power of Attorney, was a WH Smith book of the month.
Activities and Interests
Dexter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also a Friend of the Chapel and Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.