Tom Stoate specialises in public and human rights law, civil liberties and criminal justice.
“He is one to look out for. He has the criminal background so he’s good on his feet and also very good with clients as well.” “He’s very pleasant to work with, charming, legally sound and someone with an affable manner.”
Chambers UK 2016 (Inquests and Public Inquiries, ‘Up and Coming’)
“Enjoys a growing reputation for his inquests practice, and has acted as a junior in a number of high profile proceedings.” “… really personable, easy to work with, has some fantastic ideas and produces great written work” “… very good with families and at engaging with the jury.”
Chambers UK 2015
Inquests and Inquiries
Tom is regularly instructed to represent bereaved families at inquests, with a particular focus on deaths in custody, mental health and the engagement of Article 2 ECHR. Tom is an active member of the Inquest Lawyers Group, a frequent contributor to Inquest Law, and writes regular updates on coronial law with Leslie Thomas QC, Daniel Machover and Adam Straw for Legal Action.
Tom also regularly acts in related civil and public law proceedings arising out inquests and inquiries.
He was recently successful in an application for judicial review in the Divisional Court of a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute a doorman found by an inquest jury to have more than minimally contributed to the death of a young man (led by Rajiv Menon QC), now a reported case ( EWHC 2516 (Admin)).
Instructed as junior counsel to ten of the bereaved families in the fresh inquests arising out of the Hillsborough stadium disaster. Following the the longest-running inquests in British legal history, the jury concluded that the ninety-six men, women and children who lost their lives on 15 April 1989 were unlawfully killed.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry
Representing a group of current and former Labour party elected representatives, including senior Parliamentarians, in Lord Justice Pitchford’s public inquiry into undercover policing operations which targeted political and social justice campaigns.
Sean Rigg Inquest
As junior counsel to Leslie Thomas QC, represented the family of Sean Rigg in an eight-week death in custody inquest before a jury at Southwark Coroners Court, which gave rise to a verdict which was highly critical of the care, treatment and restraint of a mentally ill man by the Metropolitan Police and NHS. The case led to the first independent inquiry by the IPCC into one of its own investigations, and has been called “a watershed moment for the police service and the IPCC”. The case has since informed the government’s Independent Review into Deaths in Custody, the introduction of CCTV cameras in police vans, and led to the prosecution of a police officer for perjury in relation to evidence given during the inquest.
Sheldon Woodford Inquest
Represented the family of a vulnerable young man who died in custody, in which the inquest jury retuned a highly critical narrative verdict, concluding that lack of staff, training and consistent care had led to a failure to spot obvious patterns of risk.
Peter Barnes Inquest
Represented the family of Peter Barnes, who took his own life whilst in psychiatric detention, leading to a jury verdict of systemic neglect at a private hospital after over three weeks of evidence.
Ben Grimes Inquest
Represented the family of Ben Grimes, a vulnerable young man who died in prison, at which the inquest jury delivered a damning narrative verdict into failures in his care.
Sam Alexander MC Inquest
Acted pro bono for the father of a young Royal Marine killed in controversial circumstances in the war in Afghanistan – a case in which important lessons were learned regarding training and equipment.
Actions Against the Police and Public Authorities
Tom is regularly instructed to represent claimants in the full spectrum of actions against the police and other public authorities.
Tom was recently instructed for the successful claimant in an eight-day police action trial, and has has been instructed as junior counsel in a claim before the European Court of Human Rights on the point of whether police cautions can act as inducements to admissions of guilt in criminal matters.
Tom is an active member of the Police Action Lawyers Group, and has acted pro bono for Bail for Immigration Detainees.
Tom has represented a number of prisoners in human rights claims and judicial review proceedings against the Parole Board and Ministry of Justice – including a recently successful claim against a Prison Governor’s failure to organise releases on temporary licence.
Tom has also represented prisoners in adjudication and other hearings and before the Parole Board.
Crime, Protest and Civil Liberties
Tom has defended in trials (and a wide range of other hearings) in the Crown Court, as well as the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts (where Tom has dealt with complex issues involving capacity and fair participation).
Tom has a particular interest in protest and civil liberties. Tom has defended a wide range of individuals and groups involved in public demonstrations, including a group of the Dale Farm protesters and legal observers – helping to ensure their prosecutions were dropped – and in high-profile protests against G4S.
Tom has defended and advised requested persons at all stages of the extradition process, from first appearances through to final hearings and appeals in the High Court, in cases involving a wide range of human rights and public law issues.
Media and Information
Tom currently gives pre-publication legal advice at the Guardian and Observer, and is developing a practice in the areas of libel, data protection, privacy and breach of confidence, as well as in reporting restrictions and anonymity orders.
Tom is passionately committed to ending the death penalty wherever it exists, and has written for The Guardian on the subject. During the summer of 2011, Tom spent three months with Malawi’s Legal Aid Department (supported by the Centre for Capital Punishment Studies), helping to defend people accused of capital crimes. Tom also co-founded a project training and supporting Malawian law students to prepare bail applications and mitigation for prisoners on death row – many of whom have spent years in pre-trial detention.
Tom was in Malawi during the widespread 2011 political protest against the government there, and acted for the Bar Human Rights Committee in both legal and human rights observations there.
Tom has been legal adviser at Toynbee Hall’s Free Legal Advice Centre in London’s East End for a number of years. Between 2009-10 Tom was a residential volunteer, living at the Toynbee Hall settlement and working in free legal advice and services for young people, for which he was Highly Commended in the Attorney-General’s Pro Bono Awards 2010. He continues to give free legal advice in a wide range of areas at Toynbee Hall, particularly regarding police complaints, claims before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and other social welfare law. Tom delivered the Practitioner Seminar for the University College London LLM Access to Justice Course. His talk focused on Hillsborough and law in the public interest.
Prior to coming to the Bar, Tom worked for a number of years as a political adviser and speechwriter in Westminster for ministers in the last Labour government, and on the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign. Tom has also worked as a volunteer caseworker at the Free Representation Unit, and as a volunteer researcher and writer at The Guardian newspaper’s Law section.