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Leslie Thomas QC

  • Call: 1988
  • Silk: 2014

Joint Head of Chambers

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, Mother of Christi and Bobby Shepherd

What Others Say

Leslie was Legal Aid Barrister of the year 2012.

Louise Christian of Christian Khan stated “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. This is extremely difficult and not well funded work which requires extraordinary dedication and persistence and Leslie has all these things as well as enormous empathy with clients.”

LALY winner 2016 logo cropLALY Winner 2012

Chambers UK 2018 (Inquests and Public Inquiries): “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. They really listen to him and trust him.” “His tenacity and determination is admirable.”

Chambers UK 2018 (Police Law – Mainly Claimant): “He has a great track record in this area and is very charismatic.” “He is one of the fiercest cross-examiners in civil trials and inquests.” “He is well respected for his calm, methodical case preparation, sound legal knowledge and judgement.”

Legal 500 2017 (Inquests and Public Inquiries): “He is great on his feet and inspires confidence in clients.”

Chambers UK 2017 (Inquests and Public Inquiries): “A renowned expert on the law in this area. He fights extremely hard for the interests of families.” 

Chambers UK 2017 (Police Law – Mainly Claimant): “He is a genie of a trial advocate, who is superb with juries.” “A fearsome cross-examiner,”  who is “absolutely amazing in court.” “He is well respected for his fearless and devastating cross-examination.”

Legal 500 2016 (Inquests and Public Inquiries):He is highly skilled in the tough questioning of police and prison officers.

Chambers UK 2016 (Inquests and Public Inquiries): “It is barristers like him whom families depend on because he is truly independent and his cross-examinations mean that you can really find out the truth.” “He is a very good advocate who is good on tactics and good with families.”

Chambers UK 2016 (Police Law – Mainly Claimant): “He is a very persistent and tenacious advocate and he will fight tooth and nail for a client.” “He knows the law and plays by the rules and does a good job for his clients.” “He is well respected for his calm, methodical case preparation, sound legal knowledge and judgement.”

Legal 500 2015 (Inquests and Inquiries): “Renowned for his strength in cross-examination and his commitment to the most difficult cases.”

Chambers UK 2015 (Inquests and Public Inquiries): “A fantastic advocate with a great jury style. When necessary, he takes witnesses apart forensically.” “He is a fantastic jury advocate and tactician, whose cross-examination is brilliant. He is also superb at handling clients.”

Chambers UK 2015 (Civil Liberties and Human Rights) “Well respected for his calm, methodical case preparation, sound legal knowledge and good judgment. Best of all is his fearless and at times devastating cross-examination.” “He obviously holds the importance of understanding the client very dear.”

Chambers UK 2015 (Police Law – Mainly Claimant): A celebrated police law expert, highly valued for his human rights law expertise and his experience of handling inquests. Market commentators praise his cross-examination skills. “He is very much a leading figure in this area.”

In June 2018 Leslie was named by ‘Rights Info’ as one of the most inspiring black human rights heroes in the UK today.


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, human rights, data and privacy claims.

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

Leslie acts for claimants and other interested parties in judicial review proceedings, including claims arising out of inquests, policing decisions and prisons.

He has represented claimants in clinical negligence actions for the last 20 years.

Leslie was called to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Dominica in 2003. He was called to the Bar of Antigua and Barbuda in 2008 and in 2014 Leslie was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland.

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 here, here 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 here, here 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 Guardian, The 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.

Beyond Practice


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

Media Appearances

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.


  • 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.


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.