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Leslie Thomas QC

Year of Call: 1988, 2003 (Commonwealth of Dominica), 2008 (Antigua and Barbuda), 2014 (Northern Ireland), 2019 (Ireland) | Year of Silk: 2014

"He has a great analytical and forensic mind. He's great with distressed clients and lethal in his cross-examination of state agents."

Chambers UK, 2020 (Inquests & Public Inquiries)

"He is one of the great police law advocates of his generation."

Chambers UK, 2020 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

"He is absolutely the leader in inquest work – completely superb."

Chambers UK, 2020 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

"Leslie is a force of nature. A fantastic jury advocate and second to none as a cross-examiner, he gets the core points out and does it in style. Juries love him."

Chambers UK, 2020 (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

"Ferocious barrister who will go out of his way to fight for justice for his clients and hold the state to account. He knows the law inside and out and has the courage to raise points in court that others would not."

Legal 500, 2021 (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

Contact

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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 is currently Professor of Law at Gresham College delivering his lecture series Death, The State and Human Rights.

Civil Liberties and Human Rights

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.

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Inquests and Inquiries

Overview

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 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.

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 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.

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Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities

Overview

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 Hertfordship 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.

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Administrative and Public Law

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.

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Public International Law

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.

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Latest News

Inappropriate police restraint contributed to the death of Kevin Clarke inquest concludes

Professor Leslie Thomas QC and Ifeanyi Odogwu of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests & Inquiries Team represented the family of Kevin Clarke. Instructed by Cyrilia Davies Knight and Ben Curtis of Saunders Law.

9 October 2020

JUSTICE launches timely report on urgent reform for major inquests and inquiries

The organisation Justice launched their latest much anticipated Working Party publication:‘When things go wrong: the response of the justice system’. The Working Party included a number of retired High Court Judges and leading practitioners in the field a

25 August 2020

Grenfell Tower Inquiry - Written submission on behalf of bereaved, residents and survivors

Written submission on behalf of bereaved, residents and survivors represented by Leslie Thomas QC, Allison Munroe QC & Thalia Maragh of Garden Court Chambers and Birnberg Peirce, Saunders Law, Duncan Lewis, Deighton Pierce Glynn, Russell Cooke an

7 July 2020

"We can't breathe" - Oral statement by Professor Leslie Thomas QC to the Grenfell Inquiry on behalf of bereaved, residents and survivors

Submission made by Professor Leslie Thomas QC on behalf of bereaved, residents and survivors represented by Allison Munroe QC & Thalia Maragh of Garden Court Chambers and Birnberg Peirce, Saunders Law, Duncan Lewis, Deighton Pierce Glynn, Russell Cooke an

7 July 2020

Leslie Thomas QC appointed Gresham Professor of Law

Leslie Thomas QC of the Garden Court Civil Liberties Team to give first year of lectures on Death, The State, and Human Rights. He will be the first black Gresham Law Professor.

4 June 2020

The plight of prisoners during the pandemic

By Leslie Thomas QC and David Neale of Garden Court Chambers.

27 April 2020

Garden Court barristers appointed to advise JUSTICE on reform of institutional responses to deaths or other serious incidents

Leslie Thomas QC, Thalia Maragh and Una Morris of the Garden Court Inquests and Public Inquiries Team have been appointed to the JUSTICE Working Party, 'When Things Go Wrong'.

7 August 2019

Family statement on Anthony Grainger police shooting: Public Inquiry finds police operation breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court represented the family, instructed by Farleys Solicitors.

11 July 2019

Family statement following inquest conclusion into death of former Welsh Government Minster, Carl Sargeant

Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court was instructed by Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors for the Sargeant family.

11 July 2019

Former First Minister of Wales acted unlawfully in setting up inquiry into Carl Sargeant’s death, High Court rules

Mrs Sargeant is represented by Leslie Thomas QC instructed by Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors.

27 March 2019

Leslie Thomas QC delivers closing statement at Grenfell Inquiry on behalf of survivors and bereaved families

Leslie Thomas QC and Thalia Maragh are representing 23 clients including survivors, bereaved family members and loved ones.

11 December 2018

Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal to hear new arguments in Barbudans’ legal action against “unlawful” development of international airport

Leslie Thomas QC, Marc Willers QC, Thalia Maragh and Tihomir Mak are instructed in this case. 

11 September 2018

Carl Sargeant's widow mounts legal challenge over inquiry into the death of late Welsh Government Minister

Leslie Thomas QC is instructed by Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors on behalf of Carl Sargeant's family, alongside Sheryn Omeri of Cloisters Chambers.

22 August 2018

Work on Barbuda international airport halted by interim injunction

Leslie Thomas QC, Marc Willers QC, Thalia Maragh and Tihomir Mak of Garden Court Chambers are instructed on this case.

3 August 2018

Barbudans take legal action against Government of Antigua and Barbuda for unlawful development of an international airport

Legal action seeks injunction to immediately halt development; reveals government continued construction despite knowledge of major ecological, archaeological risks and damage to island

2 August 2018

Inquest into the death of Terry Smith concludes neglect contributed to death involving excessive restraint by Surrey Police

Una Morris and Leslie Thomas QC representing the family instructed by Nia Williams of Saunders Law.

5 July 2018

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield to go on trial for manslaughter by gross negligence

The trial of Mr Duckenfield is currently listed to start on 10 September.

29 June 2018

A safe and adequate home should be a fundamental human right in the UK

Leslie Thomas QC writes on housing, human rights and Grenfell for The Law Society Gazette.

19 June 2018

Leslie Thomas QC delivers opening statement at Grenfell Inquiry on behalf of survivors and bereaved families

Leslie Thomas QC and Thalia Maragh are representing 23 clients including survivors, bereaved family members and loved ones.

7 June 2018

Leslie Thomas QC on BBC Radio 4 ‘Unreliable Evidence’

Leslie Thomas QC appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Unreliable Evidence’ programme on 'Public Inquiries' presented by Clive Anderson.

26 April 2018

Barbudans call on Commonwealth leaders to address human rights injustices, failing democracy in wake of Hurricane Irma

Leslie Thomas QC, Marc Willers QC, Thalia Maragh and Tihomir Mak are representing Barbudans in this case.

17 April 2018

Barbudans file injunction to expose unlawful introduction of land act changes

Leslie Thomas QC, Marc Willers QC, Thalia Maragh and Tihomir Mak are acting for the group of Barbudans.

20 December 2017

High Court grants fresh inquest for Onese Power who was killed in 1997 following a police pursuit

Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers represented the wife of Onese Power.

6 December 2017

Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme wins Chambers Diversity Initiative of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

Mia Hakl-Law, Head of Operations & HR, pioneered the mentoring scheme in conjunction with Garden Court's Leslie Thomas QC and Connor Johnston.

30 November 2017

Leslie Thomas QC wins Lifetime Achievement Award at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

We are delighted to announce that Leslie Thomas QC, Chair and Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Diversity Legal Awards 2017.

30 November 2017

High Court quashes inquest conclusions of Stephen Port murder victims

Leslie Thomas QC, Emma Favata and Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers instructed.

28 November 2017

Hillsborough Review backs ‘Hillsborough Law’

Seventeen barristers from Garden Court Chambers were involved in the Hillsborough inquests, representing 80 families of those who died.

1 November 2017

Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme and Leslie Thomas QC shortlisted at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017

Garden Court Long Term Mentoring Scheme and Leslie Thomas QC shortlisted at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2017.

22 September 2017

Vital times for human rights lawyers as we face attacks on fundamental rights at home and abroad

In these difficult times, human rights lawyers have a vital role to play in challenging prejudice, discrimination and the unlawful exercise of power.

6 February 2017

Leslie Thomas QC, Judy Khan QC and Marc Willers QC elected as Joint Heads of Chambers

Garden Court is delighted to announce that Leslie Thomas QC, Judy Khan QC and Marc Willers QC have been elected as Joint Heads of Chambers.

31 January 2017

Public Inquiry opens into the fatal police shooting of unarmed Anthony Grainger in 2012

The parents Anthony Grainger are represented by Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers.

17 January 2017

Families of Stephen Port murder victims issue plea for information through lawyers

The families of Stephen Port's victims are represented by Leslie Thomas QC, Emma Favata and Paul Clark.

6 January 2017

Leslie Thomas QC talks to Renegade Inc about disenfranchisement, the police and Mark Duggan

In this TV interview, Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers assesses what can happen when a community faces constant disenfranchisement.

9 December 2016

All related news

Background

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. Leslie is currently Professor of Law at Gresham College delivering his lecture series Death, The State and Human Rights. 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.

Publications

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.

Training and Seminars

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.

In June 2020, Leslie was appointed as the first black Gresham Law Professor. He will be delivering his first year lectures on Death, The State, and Human Rights. The free lecture series will begin in September 2020.
 

Awards

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

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.

Leslie Thomas QC was the legal consultant on the BBC Drama 'Undercover' (2016) directed by Peter Moffat. 

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.

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.

Leslie Thomas QC was the co-executive producer on 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' (2011) directed by Lynn Ramsay.

 

Education

  • LLB (Kingston)
  • LLD (Kingston)

Professional Membership

  • Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG)
  • INQUEST Lawyers Group (ILG)
  • Standards Committee for Public Life for Lewisham Council
  • Elected member of JUSTICE council
  • Former management committee for National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty)
  • Former Chair of Central London Community Law Centre’s management’s committee

Languages

  • Russian
  • French

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