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Leslie Thomas QC

  • Call: 1988
  • Silk: 2014
"Huge thanks to our QC Leslie Thomas for his faith in our case and supporting us, the underdog, in our fight against a corporate giant.”

Sharon Wood, Client (Mother of Christi and Bobby Shepherd)

Leslie is a leading expert in claims against the police and other public authorities and claims against corporate bodies, with expertise across the full spectrum of civil wrongs, civil litigation, human rights, data and privacy claims.

He is an expert in all aspects of inquests and public inquiries, having represented many bereaved families, in particular where there has been abuse of state or corporate power.

Leslie acts for claimants in judicial review proceedings and other public law proceedings.

He regularly acts for clients in the Caribbean region on constitutional law challenges.

He has represented claimants in clinical negligence and personal injury claims for the last 20 years.

Leslie has a UK-wide reputation in civil liberties and human rights. He has acted as counsel and advocate in dozens of high-profile Article 2 inquiries, such as the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Carl Sargeant inquiry, the legacy cases involving the Provisional IRA and the Anthony Grainger and Azelle Rodney inquiries. His expertise, adroit handling of sensitive matters and dedication to vulnerable clients are widely acknowledged across the country.

Leslie’s UK-wide practice in civil liberties, police law and inquests has made him the go-to specialist for deaths in custody, shootings, pursuits and restraint deaths. As a result of his expertise and adroit handling of sensitive matters, Leslie was instructed in high-profile cases such as the Birmingham Pub Bombing inquest, Sean Rigg inquest, Hillsborough disaster inquest, Mark Duggan inquest, the legacy cases involving the Provisional IRA and Christopher Alder inquest. Leslie’s notable experience in ECHR, judicial review and privacy matters proceedings is widely acknowledged in the marketplace.

Notable cases

Christi and Bobby Shepherd Inquest (Thomas Cook Corfu Carbon Monoxide case) [May 2015]
Leslie represented the families of Christi and Bobby Shepherd who died tragically as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2006 whilst on a Thomas Cook holiday with their father and his partner. More information herehere and here.

Eleanor De Freitas Inquest [March 2015]
Leslie represented the family of Eleanor De Freitas at the inquest into her death. More information here.

The Glenanne murders – Elizabeth MacDonald – Inquest
Leslie represented the family of Elizabeth MacDonald who was murdered by the Glenanne Gang in Northern Ireland during the troubles. More information here.

Hillsborough inquests [March 2014]
Leslie represented 11 of the 96 families whose love ones died in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. More information here.

Arsema Dawit inquest
Arsema Dawit aged 15 was stabbed in excess of 60 times and died in 2008. Leslie and Una Morris represented Arsema’s mother at the inquest into her death which looked at the way the police handled her complaint that she was being harassed by the man who killed her in the weeks before her death. More information here.

Mark Duggan inquest and judicial review
Mark Duggan’s death on 4 August 2011 sparked civil unrest in the United Kingdom. Leslie represented Mark’s family and loved ones. More information here.

Azelle Rodney public inquiry
Azelle Rodney was killed having been shot six times by Metropolitan Police Officer, Anthony Long. Leslie represented Azelle’s mother at the public inquiry into the death. In 2013, Sir Christopher Holland, the Chairman, determined that the shooting was an unlawful killing. More information herehere and here.

Medihani v HM Coroner of Inner South District of Greater London
Leslie represented the mother of Arsema Dawit in the judicial review of the Coroner’s refusal to hold an Article 2 ECHR inquiry into the death of a 15-year-old girl stabbed to death by her boyfriend following her reporting her fear of him and threats made by him to the police. The case was reported in The GuardianThe Telegraph and by the BBC.

Sean Rigg inquest, judicial review and civil action
Leslie represented the family of Sean Rigg, who died in 2008 in custody at Brixton Police station following restraint. The case was widely reported by the BBC. More information can be found on the Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign website.

Clifford v Hertford Police [2011] EWHC 815 (QB)
Leslie represented the Claimant in successfully claiming damages and substantial costs for malicious prosecution against the police. This case was reported by The Telegraph.

 

Leslie’s UK-wide practice in police law this has made him the go-to specialist for deaths in custody, shootings, pursuits and restraint deaths. As a result of his expertise and adroit handling of sensitive matters, Leslie was instructed in a number of high-profile cases Clifford v Hertfordshire Police, R (on the application of Lee) v CC Essex Police,  the legacy cases involving the Provisional IRA. Leslie’s notable experience in ECHR, judicial review and privacy matters proceedings is widely acknowledged in the marketplace.

Notable cases

G & Others v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police [2015]
Leslie, along with Una Morris, represented four claimants who were aged just 11 and 12 when they were arrested following an incident at school. The case settled at the conclusion of the claimants’ evidence.

R (Birks) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 3041 (Admin)
Leslie Thomas QC represented the Second Interested Party, Marcia Rigg-Samuel, in proceedings brought by a police officer in relation to the refusal of the Commissioner to consent to his resignation pending misconduct proceedings arising out of the death of Sean Rigg. The challenge to the decision failed. More information here.

Leslie has notable experience in public law challenges and judicial review of powers of public bodies such as the police, and he often leads on test cases on human rights, policing and privacy.

Leslie has been representing inhabitants of the island of Barbuda in several challenges against the state including a constitutional challenge against the government of Antigua in relation to the Barbudan’s rights to their land.  A judicial review under the Antiguan Planning legislation and he has sought an injunction against the airport authorities in Antigua and Barbuda preventing the construction of an international airport.

Leslie has been with Garden Court Chambers for most of his professional life. He started his legal career in a commercial set of chambers but soon realised his true passion was representing individuals whose civil liberties/human rights had been violated.

As well as his extensive legal practice, he lectures widely to various organisations including coroners, universities, schools, pressure groups and non-profit organisations. He is an advocacy trainer for the Inner Temple and organises and conducts training courses for solicitors, barristers and coroners.

He has previously worked as a lecturer at the University of Westminster, Kingston University London and the Open Universities.

He has a passion for motorcycles and playing the tenor saxophone. He is a competent Russian and French speaker.

  • 2017 – UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017, Winner, BSN Lifetime Achievement
  • 2016 – Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards, Winner
  • 2014 – Top 100 Lawyers award in the field of ‘Campaigners’, The Lawyer magazine
  • 2013 – Awarded an LLD Honorary Doctorate in Law from Kingston University for services for civil rights
  • 2013 – Lawyer of the year: Black Mental Health UK journal
  • 2012 – Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards, Winner

Leslie features in the highly acclaimed film Injustice by Ken Fero. During the film he was followed on the case of Ibrahim Sey, the first fatality in this country following the introduction and use of CS Spray.

He also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Unreliable Evidence’ programme on ‘Public Inquiries’ presented by Clive Anderson on 25 April 2018.

In 2014, Leslie received ‘The Lawyer’ (Magazine) Top 100 Award in the field of campaigners. In the same year he was also awarded the title of Queen’s (Senior) Counsel.

In 2015 his successful case against the Hertfordshire Police was made the subject of the book ‘Fit Up: Fighting to Clear My Husband’s Name’ by Faith Clifford.

Co-author of the popular practitioners textbook “Inquests: A Practitioner’s Guide” published by Legal Action (1st edition 2002, 2nd edition 2008 and 3rd edition 2014).

Drafted the prison legislation for the Maldives, on behalf of the UN in 2005.

As well as his extensive legal practice, Leslie lectures widely to various organisations including coroners, universities, schools, pressure groups and non-profit organisations. He is an advocacy trainer for the Inner Temple and organises and conducts training courses for solicitors, barristers and coroners.

“Well respected for his calm, methodical case preparation, sound legal knowledge and judgement, but most impressively for his fearless and at times devastating cross-examination.” “Advocacy is his strong point and he is extremely good with clients. He is reassuring and explains even the most complex issues in layman’s terms.”

Chambers UK 2019

“Leslie is one of the fiercest cross-examiners in civil trials and inquests…He is great with clients, especially at building rapport with very difficult clients.”

Chambers UK 2018 (Inquests and Public Inquiries)

“He has a great track record in this area and is very charismatic… He is well respected for his calm, methodical case preparation, sound legal knowledge and judgement.”

Chambers UK 2018 (Police Law – Mainly Claimant)

“Leslie has done more for the families of those who die in custody or at the hands of the police than any other single lawyer.”

Louise Christian, Christian Khan

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