The fantasy barrister league
28 May 1996
The same names may come up time and again in most people’s fantasy football teams, but the names which come up in the leading criminal practitioners’ pick of fantasy barristers range from the obvious to the unexpected.
Criminal specialists were asked to imagine they were standing in the dock accused of murder. With money being no problem, the barristers they chose to defend them were literally a Who’s Who of criminal counsel. The fantasy barristers were, in no particular order:
Head of the set at 2-3 Gray’s Inn Square Anthony Scrivener QC on the basis that he would be “committed and a first class advocate”. Michael Mansfield QC at 14 Tooks Court was singled out by many to be their defence counsel for murder.
Nicholas Purnell QC at 36 Essex Street would be on the receiving end of instructions from a number of solicitors who consider him “superb - a nice advocate, with an excellent brain and what seems to be a photographic memory”.
In a murder case, briefs would also be winging their way to Ronald Thwaites QC, who heads the set at 10 King’s Bench Walk, and to chambers head Edmund Lawson QC at 9-12 Bell Yard. He is a popular choice as a criminal lawyer’s lawyer because of his expertise as both a criminal and civil practitioner, making him “ideal for defending someone accused either of murder or white collar crime”. At the same set, John Harwood-Stevenson is the choice because he “is a superb and thorough advocate”.
Other leading criminal practitioners opted for barristers who would be seen as “very establishment”, with one plumping for either the “very very bright” Peter Goldsmith QC at Fountain Court Chambers, or Northern Circuit leader Richard Henriques QC at Deans Court Chambers, Manchester.
Others gave their dream teams as the “senior man at the Criminal Bar” John Mathew QC at 5 Paper Buildings with either of the twin QCs Clive or Colin Nicholls of 3 Raymond Buildings as number two. Other combinations include, for murder, Purnell or Lawson leading, with either Michael Egan or Mukul Chawla both at Lawson’s set, as the juniors.
Anthony Arlidge QC of 5 King’s Bench Walk was a barrister to instruct because “he is respected by the profession and also has the respect of the judiciary. He is in the enviable position of being respected by everybody.” George Carman QC at New Court Chambers was also put forward.
For white collar crime, the entire department of one firm admits: “Our man would have to be Anthony Shaw QC at 4 Brick Court chambers.” Another department said that the man that came up most often for the solicitors concerned was Julian Bevan QC at Hollis Whiteman Chambers, Queen Elizabeth Building, who “has a distinguished reputation, is very sound in every way and good in front of the judiciary”.
Ann Curnow QC at 6 King’s Bench Walk is another’s “first choice, being an extremely able advocate and extremely thorough”.
Depending on the defence to a murder charge, another firm admitted it would be a difficult choice between Rock Tansey QC and Roy Amlot QC. For white collar crime, it would choose Lawson. Another opted for Amlot “because he would look after me”.
Another favourite is the “terrific” Stephen Leslie QC at 1 Crown Office Row, and Ken McDonald at 2 Garden Court chambers was “chosen without any hesitation”.
Instructing counsel, even in an imaginary case, can be difficult if the counsel concerned is a friend. It is very much horses for courses, and is not necessarily restricted to London.
Campbell Tait at Lincoln House Chambers, Manchester, was chosen because “he can be trusted with everything. He’s a fighter - thorough and very good in court.” And Charles Barton QC at Albion Chambers in Bristol, is also “a very able advocate and a very astute tactician”. James Stewart QC in Leeds would be briefed for the defence because “he is one of the best in the North”, with Gerald Lumley of 9 Woodhouse Square, Leeds as junior.