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MEET:

Jesse Nicholls

“A brilliant all-rounder with an excellent legal mind. He is a clear and forceful advocate and his written work is second to none. He covers all bases.”

Called: 2010

Jesse specialises in judicial review, inquests and inquiries, civil claims against public authorities, human rights, equality and discrimination law, and media and open justice.

His expertise encompasses public and private law claims involving complex points of law, as well as evidence-heavy and contentious inquests, public inquiries and civil trials. He is equally assured advising on significant and novel points of law and making complex legal submissions, as he is questioning witnesses in high profile public inquiries, inquests and civil trials.

Jesse is committed to representing those who have been subject to the abuse of State and corporate power, upholding their rights, and seeking accountability and change on their behalf. He acts for bereaved families, victims of police use of force, dishonesty and other misconduct, vulnerable benefits claimants, prisoners with disabilities, and those subject to immigration detention powers. He has acted in many of the most high-profile cases in recent years, including the Hillsborough Inquests, the Deepcut Inquests, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, and the Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests.

Jesse is on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s approved panel of Counsel.

Jesse has previously been shortlisted as Legal Aid Barrister of the Year by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) and is consistently recognised in both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as a leading practitioner in a range of practice areas, including Administrative and Public Law, Inquests and Public Inquiries, Police Law, and Civil Liberties and Human Rights.

Jesse is a public law specialist, conducting judicial review cases from the High Court to the Supreme Court. His public law practice spans a range of areas and includes cases involving access to justice, police law, inquest and inquiries law, national security and counterterrorism, prisoners’ rights, immigration detention, equality and discrimination, and claims raising open justice and freedom of expression issues.

Jesse has extensive experience representing NGOs, charities and other intervenors in public law proceedings. He is a member of the EHRC’s approved panel of Counsel.

  • R (Lewis) v Secretary of State for Defence: Successful legitimate expectation challenge to the failure of the Army to implement changes promised at the inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton, who died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995. Jesse acted for Pte Benton’s family. The claim settled with the MoD conceding that the Army had failed to meet the assurances it had given at the inquest, apologising, and urgently revising its training materials.
  • R (Canham) v Director of Public Prosecutions CO/65/2021: Challenge to CPS refusal to prosecute prison officers for gross negligence manslaughter and the Ministry of Justice and NOMS for corporate manslaughter arising from the death of Robert Fenlon at HMP Woodhill. Led by Rajiv Menon QC.
  • Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 2511 (Admin): Application for fresh inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting, a highly vulnerable woman who took her own life following the termination of her benefits by the DWP. The case involves novel issues concerning the engagement of Article 2 ECHR to vulnerable benefit claimants.
  • Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 1738 (Admin): Application by SSWP to be joined as IP in application under s.13 of the Coroners Act 1988.
  • R (Turner) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2021] EWHC 465 (Admin): Challenge to the DWP’s policy for the protection of vulnerable benefits claimants. The Claimant is the daughter-in-law of Errol Graham, a man suffering from complex mental health issues who starved to death following the termination of his benefits by the DWP. Led by Adam Straw QC.
  • COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice v Prime Minster and Secretary of State for Health: Proposed challenge to the failure to establish a public inquiry into the government’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Pete Wetherby QC.
  • R (EA and BT) v Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry [2020] EWHC 2053 (Admin): Challenge by survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing to the decision refusing them Core Participant status within the Manchester Arena Inquiry. Significant Divisional Court judgment on Core Participant status, delay and non-fatal Article 2 cases. Led by Paul Greaney QC.
  • R (British Medical Association) v Chief Coroner for England and Wales: Proposed challenge to guidance on the coronial investigation of deaths arising from COVID-19. Settled following amendment to the guidance. Led by Jenni Richards QC.
  • R (Ketcher & Mitchell) v Coroner for Northern Ireland [2020] NICA 31: Assisted Brenda Campbell QC with INQUEST intervention in case concerning privilege in inquest proceedings and whether a coroner can compel disclosure of an expert report held by an Interested Person.
  • R (MA BB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1523 (Admin): Successful challenge against the inadequacy of the investigation into evidence of significant abuse and mistreatment of detained persons at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. The claim led to the establishment of the Brook House Inquiry. Led by Nick Armstrong.
  • R (P, G and W) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Secretary of State for Justice [2019] UKSC 3: Supreme Court case concerning the circumstances in which individuals are required to disclose minor and old convictions to potential employers. Jesse acted for Unlock, the leading charity providing a voice and support for people facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC.
  • R (Vinter) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 2104: Article 3 challenge to whole life orders. Led by Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC.
  • R v Blackman (Marine A) [2017] EWCA Crim 326: Application to have significant, public interest video footage released to the media. The footage showed Mr Blackman, a former UK marine, killing an injured Afghan combatant in 2011. Jesse represented the BBC, ITN, Sky, The Times and The Guardian.
  • R (Scarfe) v Governor of HMP Woodhill and Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 1194 (Admin): Represented INQUEST in this challenge arising from the multiple self-inflicted deaths of prisoners at HMP Woodhill. INQUEST’s intervention focused on the repeated failure of State bodies to implement recommendations and prevent future deaths. Led by Heather Williams QC.
  • Secretary of State for the Home Department v HM Senior Coroner for Surrey [2016] EWHC 3001 (Admin): Leading authority on the approach to security sensitive and PII material in inquest proceedings. Jesse acted for INQUEST in their intervention. Led by Heather Williams QC.
  • R (Oliver) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2016] EWHC 1771 (Admin): Challenge to CPS refusal to prosecute a police custody sergeant for gross negligence manslaughter arising from the death from alcohol withdrawal of a vulnerable detainee. Led by Matthew Ryder QC.
  • R (Hicks) v Inner North London Senior Coroner [2016] EWHC 1726 (Admin): Representing the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit in 2014. Challenge to the Coroner’s decision preventing the family being in court when the four key police witnesses gave evidence on how Henry was killed. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC.

Jesse is a leading inquest and inquiries lawyer. He has appeared in many of the most high-profile inquests and inquiries in recent years involving serious, systemic State and corporate failings, including the Hillsborough Inquests, the Deepcut Inquests, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, the Brook House Inquiry and the Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests.

Jesse is regularly instructed in contentious and complex inquests and inquiries involving mass fatalities, terrorism, the Security Services, Public Interest Immunity, deaths in prison and police custody, deaths in psychiatric and immigration detention, domestic homicide cases, the deaths of military personnel, and cases engaging regulatory deficiencies, public service outsourcing and corporate failings.

Jesse specialises in novel Article 2 inquests expanding the duty on the State to investigate the deaths of vulnerable people in the community. This has included acting for the families of vulnerable benefit claimants who have starved to death and taken their own lives following the termination of their benefits by the DWP, and representing the families of people who have taken their own lives after becoming addicted to gambling.

Jesse has represented numerous bereaved families, assisting them through the inquest and inquiry process with sensitivity, skill and determination. He has been recognised in Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as being “very collaborative”, “very good with bereaved families”, “good at working with vulnerable clients”, and having “exceptionally good client care skills”. He has also been described as “a clear and forceful advocate” and “an accomplished jury [inquest] advocate who is not afraid to ask the difficult questions.”

As well as acting for bereaved families, Jesse has been instructed as Counsel to the Inquest and Counsel to the Inquiry (CTI). He brings his extensive experience of representing bereaved families to his work as CTI, and assists bereaved families drawing on his experience as CTI.

Inquests and Inquiries:

  • R (Lewis) v Secretary of State for Defence: Successful legitimate expectation challenge to the failure of the Army to implement changes promised at the inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton, who died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995. Jesse acted for Pte Benton’s family. The claim settled with the MoD conceding that the Army had failed to meet the assurances it had given at the inquest, apologising, and urgently revising its training materials.
  • The Manchester Arena Inquiry: Lead Junior Counsel to the Inquiry (previously Counsel to the Inquests).
  • The Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests: Representing the family of Jack Merritt.
  • Inquests into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals found in a container in Purfleet, Essex in 2019: Representing a number of NGOs seeking full inquests into the deaths.
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Representing over 170 bereaved and survivor Core Participants.
  • The Brook House Inquiry: Representing multiple victim and NGO Core Participants.
  • Inquest into the death of Sean Benton: Sean died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995 from five gunshot wounds to the chest. Jesse represented Sean’s family at the fresh inquest into his death. In his conclusions the Coroner identified a toxic environment of abuse and chronic under-resourcing at Deepcut, and found that Sgt Gavaghan, who was responsible for trainee welfare, had systematically bullied and hounded Sean in the lead up to his death, as well as assaulting multiple other trainees.
  • The Hillsborough Inquests: Representing the families of 77 of those killed in the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster. The inquests returned a conclusion of unlawful killing.
  • The Undercover Policing Inquiry: Representing applicants for Core Participant status.
  • Inquest into the death of Daniel Dunkley: Daniel took his own life at HMP Woodhill. The jury returned a critical narrative and neglect conclusion, finding that a failure by the prison to implement previous recommendations contributed to Daniel’s death.
  • Inquests into the deaths of Christine and Lucy Lee: Christine and Lucy were murdered by Christine’s partner after shotguns were wrongly returned to him by Surrey Police. Jesse successfully helped the family to secure the resumption of the inquests, leading to a highly critical narrative conclusion from the jury.

 

Inquests and Inquiries (Public Law cases):

  • Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 2511 (Admin): Application for fresh inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting, a highly vulnerable woman who took her own life following the termination of her benefits by the DWP. The case involves novel issues concerning the engagement of Article 2 ECHR to vulnerable benefit claimants.
  • Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 1738 (Admin): Application by SSWP to be joined as IP in application under s.13 of the Coroners Act 1988.
  • COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice v Prime Minster and Secretary of State for Health: Proposed challenge to the failure to establish a public inquiry into the government’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Pete Wetherby QC.
  • R (EA and BT) v Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry [2020] EWHC 2053 (Admin): Challenge by survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing to the decision refusing them Core Participant status within the Manchester Arena Inquiry. Significant Divisional Court judgment on Core Participant status, delay and non-fatal Article 2 cases. Led by Paul Greaney QC.
  • R (British Medical Association) v Chief Coroner for England and Wales: Proposed challenge to guidance on the coronial investigation of deaths arising from COVID-19. Settled following amendment to the guidance. Led by Jenni Richards QC.
  • R (Ketcher & Mitchell) v Coroner for Northern Ireland [2020] NICA 31: Assisted Brenda Campbell QC with INQUEST intervention in case concerning privilege in inquest proceedings and whether a coroner can compel disclosure of an expert report held by an Interested Person.
  • R (MA BB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1523 (Admin): Successful challenge against the inadequacy of the investigation into evidence of significant abuse and mistreatment of detained persons at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. The claim led to the establishment of the Brook House Inquiry. Led by Nick Armstrong.
  • R (Scarfe) v Governor of HMP Woodhill and Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 1194 (Admin): Represented INQUEST in this challenge arising from the multiple self-inflicted deaths of prisoners at HMP Woodhill. INQUEST’s intervention focused on the repeated failure of State bodies to implement recommendations and prevent future deaths. Led by Heather Williams QC.
  • Secretary of State for the Home Department v HM Senior Coroner for Surrey [2016] EWHC 3001 (Admin): Leading authority on the approach to security sensitive and PII material in inquest proceedings. Jesse acted for INQUEST in their intervention. Led by Heather Williams QC.
  • R (Hicks) v Inner North London Senior Coroner [2016] EWHC 1726 (Admin): Representing the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit in 2014. Challenge to the Coroner’s decision preventing the family being in court when the four key police witnesses gave evidence on how Henry was killed. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC.

Jesse is a police law specialist. He represents victims of police restraint, use of force, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. He has secured high-value settlements in many such cases. He was previously Chair of the Police Action Lawyers Group and has been consistently recognised as a leading police law practitioner in Chambers and Partners.

His expertise spans the full range of police claims, including claims for personal injury arising from police use of force, false imprisonment, victims of armed policing operations, claims arising from police dishonesty and misfeasance, failure to investigate and failure to protect claims, the unlawful policing of protest, police surveillance, unlawful search warrants, invasion and seizure of property, information and personal data claims, discrimination, misuse of private information, and a variety of claims under the Human Rights Act.

Jesse has particular experience in acting for vulnerable individuals who have been subjected to police misconduct, including bereaved families, children, persons with disabilities, women who have suffered domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence, protesters, and individuals subjected to human trafficking and modern slavery.

Jesse also assists victims in relation to police misconduct and disciplinary proceedings, seeking to ensure victim involvement and accountability, including through judicial review proceedings where necessary.

Providing assistance to victims of Jim Boyling, an undercover officer dismissed for gross misconduct for entering into intimate sexual relationships with those he was spying on.

Representing the mother of Julian Cole, who suffered catastrophic brain and spinal injuries following police restraint. Three officers were dismissed for gross misconduct.

Acting for the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit.

Jesse has extensive experience in representing claimants in public law and damages claims against the prison authorities, private contractors, the Ministry of Justice, the Parole Board and the Probation Service.

His experience includes acting for clients in claims for assault (by both prison staff and other prisoners), failures to make reasonable adjustments for disabled prisoners, lack of access to offending behaviour courses, challenges to prison conditions, licence conditions, adjudications, and Parole Board decisions, and claims arising from maladministration and delay.

Jesse also acts for prisoners at Parole Board hearings and Close Supervision Centre panels, including complex cases involving national security, counterterrorism and restrictive disclosure issues.

Jesse acts for individuals subject to immigration detention powers in judicial review and civil claims for unlawful detention. He has represented victims of torture, numerous clients subject to Dublin III Regulations ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in R (Hemmati) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 56, clients subjected to assaults and discrimination in immigration detention, and a number of individuals suffering from serious mental health issues in detention.

Jesse represents clients in a wide range of other claims against public authorities, including claims against the Ministry of Defence for assault and failure to investigate rape, sexual abuse and serious violence, claims for unlawful disclosure of personal information, actions against the Department of Work and Pensions, claims against local authorities for failing to prevent abuse of children, and deprivation of liberty claims.

Jesse acts for a wide range of print, broadcast and social media organisations in open justice and freedom of expression cases, including challenges to reporting restriction orders, anonymity orders and restrictions on media access to court hearings, privacy, data protection and contempt of court cases, freedom of information claims, and applications for access to court documents.

Jesse previously worked in-house at The Times legal department, engaging with and advising journalists and editors on a daily basis. He has also provided pre-publication advice to a number of national newspapers. He is therefore able to offer clear, practical advice to media clients, understanding the pressures they are under and focusing on their core objectives when becoming involved in legal proceedings.

  • R v Blackman (Marine A) [2017] EWCA Crim 326
  • The Undercover Policing Inquiry: Challenging anonymity orders granted to a number of police officers.
  • Blue v Ashley [2017] EWHC 1928 (Comm)
  • R v Khan, Dogar & Others (Operations Nautical, Sabaton and Silk): Successful challenges to s.45(4) orders in linked, high-profile child sexual exploitation trials.
  • R v Pogmore: Successful application for access to evidence shown to the jury during high-profile case of police misconduct.
  • R v Rahmin & Others (Operations Shelter and Emerald): Challenges to reporting restrictions in child sexual exploitation trials.

Jesse is an international human rights specialist. He has acted in a number of international human rights claims, including:

  • AAA & Others v Gemfields Limited: Represented 273 Mozambicans who alleged that that they and their relatives were the victims of serious human rights abuses at the Montepuez Ruby Mine in northern Mozambique. Settled with payment of a financial sum to the claimants, the establishment of community projects to improve the agricultural productivity and livelihoods of those living at and near the mine, and the creation of an independent Operational Grievance Mechanism to ensure that any individual who wishes to raise a grievance is able to obtain an appropriate remedy promptly. Led by Tim Otty QC.
  • Virtanen v Finland (ECtHR App. No. 53251/13): Intervention for the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre setting out the relevant ECHR, UNCRPD and other international standards applicable to a claim involving the enforced location of a person with disabilities.
  • R (Trapence and Mtambo) v Malawian Director of Public Prosecutions(Constitutional Cause No.1/2017): Advising Malawian human rights defenders in relation to a proposed claim for judicial review following the DPP’s refusal to prosecute a senior Malawian politician for calling for the killing of homosexual people.
  • Kolakovic v Malta (ECtHR App. No. 76392/12): Violation of Article 5 ECHR arising from lengthy post-bail detention of a British national.
  • Balaj and Others v United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (HRAP Case No. 04.07): Violation of Articles 2 and 11 ECHR arising from the killing of two men, and the injury of numerous others, by UN peacekeepers in 2007 during a protest in Pristina, Kosovo.
  • Aydan v Turkey (ECtHR App. No. 16281/10): Violations of Articles 2 and 6 ECHR arising from the shooting of a passer-by at a demonstration. Sizeable damages were awarded. Assisted Jude Bunting.

Jesse is co-author of Halsbury’s Laws of England: Rights and Freedoms, a contributor to Inquests: A Practitioner’s Guide (LAG), a contributing author to Human Rights Practice (Sweet & Maxwell), and he has contributed to Judicial Review: Law and Practice (Jordans).

Jesse has also been published in a range of legal journals, including Judicial Review, Inquest Law and Legal Action.

Jesse contributes substantial time training others across the range of his areas of practice. This includes training for the Public Law Project, Medical Justice, INQUEST and LAG.

  • Trinity College, Cambridge: BA Hons History, First Class with Distinction (2007)
  • City University: Graduate Diploma in Law (2009)
  • BPP: Bar Vocational Course (2010)
  • Inner Temple: Exhibition Scholarship (2008), Peter Taylor Scholarship (2009)

Jesse is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to my clients, including advice and representation services, Jesse needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes his client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matter upon which he is instructed. To read Jesse’s privacy notice in full, please see here.

DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

"He is really effective, committed and provides quick turnaround with his work." "He's good at identifying clients' needs and picking out appropriate routes of legal recourse."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Inquests & Public Inquiries

"Jesse has a first-rate mind, he is incredibly quick and he is a strategic thinker." "He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law." "He is a very careful barrister and is thorough in his advice."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

"Jesse Nicholls has a first-rate mind, he is incredibly quick and he is a strategic thinker." "He is a meticulous, strategic and uncompromising barrister, and really listens to his clients and solicitors."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Administrative & Public Law

"A super knowledgeable barrister with excellent drafting skills and great knowledge of case law."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Police Law: Mainly Claimant

"Jesse has an authoritative understanding of all aspects of civil liberties law. He is particularly good on cases arising from breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Legal 500, 2022, Administrative & Public Law (Including Elections)

"Outstanding on the law and often used by leaders to draft legal submissions. Very conscientious and hard-working, good on his feet and excellent judgement."

Legal 500, 2022, Inquests and Inquiries

“A complete star”

“A dream of a barrister”

“A brilliant all-rounder with an excellent legal mind. He is a clear and forceful advocate and his written work is second to none. He covers all bases.”

“A joy to work with – a real team player who has phenomenal knowledge of the law. His written work is also outstanding, and he is an accomplished jury advocate who is not afraid to ask the difficult questions. It’s no wonder he’s so in demand – a true star.”

"Extremely intelligent and thorough; he has excellent judgement and his drafting is impeccable. He also has exceptionally good client care skills.”

"Ridiculously bright, works incredibly hard, and always works his way through issues with enthusiasm, bringing to bear his expansive knowledge across multiple areas.”

“An incredibly intelligent barrister, his written work is always phenomenal and he can advocate in tricky circumstances. He’s also good at working with vulnerable clients; he’s engaging and understanding.”

"Absolutely fantastic – extremely bright and very good at working as a team. He’s very collaborative, responsive, extremely hard-working and very good with bereaved families.”

Chambers & Partners and Legal 500
Matrix Chambers
24 HOUR ASSISTANCE
+44 (0)20 7404 3447
Called: 2010

“A brilliant all-rounder with an excellent legal mind. He is a clear and forceful advocate and his written work is second to none. He covers all bases.”

MAIN AREAS OF PRACTICE

  • Community Care Law
  • Data Protection
  • Defamation and Privacy
  • Discrimination and Equality
  • Education Law
  • Environmental Law and Natural Resources
  • Health and Social Care (including welfare benefits)
  • Immigration, Asylum and Free Movement
  • Inquests and Inquiries
  • Local Government Law
  • Media and Information Law
  • Police, Inquests and Prison
  • Public International Law
  • Commercial Public Law

Jesse Nicholls

Contact Jesse: jessenicholls@matrixlaw.co.uk | +44 (0)20 7404 3447

Contact Jesse's Practice Team (Team X): TeamX@matrixlaw.co.uk


Jesse specialises in judicial review, inquests and inquiries, civil claims against public authorities, human rights, equality and discrimination law, and media and open justice.

His expertise encompasses public and private law claims involving complex points of law, as well as evidence-heavy and contentious inquests, public inquiries and civil trials. He is equally assured advising on significant and novel points of law and making complex legal submissions, as he is questioning witnesses in high profile public inquiries, inquests and civil trials.

Jesse is committed to representing those who have been subject to the abuse of State and corporate power, upholding their rights, and seeking accountability and change on their behalf. He acts for bereaved families, victims of police use of force, dishonesty and other misconduct, vulnerable benefits claimants, prisoners with disabilities, and those subject to immigration detention powers. He has acted in many of the most high-profile cases in recent years, including the Hillsborough Inquests, the Deepcut Inquests, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, and the Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests.

Jesse is on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s approved panel of Counsel.

Jesse has previously been shortlisted as Legal Aid Barrister of the Year by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) and is consistently recognised in both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as a leading practitioner in a range of practice areas, including Administrative and Public Law, Inquests and Public Inquiries, Police Law, and Civil Liberties and Human Rights.

Administrative and Public Law

Jesse is a public law specialist, conducting judicial review cases from the High Court to the Supreme Court. His public law practice spans a range of areas and includes cases involving access to justice, police law, inquest and inquiries law, national security and counterterrorism, prisoners’ rights, immigration detention, equality and discrimination, and claims raising open justice and freedom of expression issues. Jesse has extensive experience representing NGOs, charities and other intervenors in public law proceedings. He is a member of the EHRC’s approved panel of Counsel. Notable cases R (Lewis) v Secretary of State for Defence: Successful legitimate expectation challenge to the failure of the Army to implement changes promised at the inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton, who died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995. Jesse acted for Pte Benton’s family. The claim settled with the MoD conceding that the Army had failed to meet the assurances it had given at the inquest, apologising, and urgently revising its training materials. R (Canham) v Director of Public Prosecutions CO/65/2021: Challenge to CPS refusal to prosecute prison officers for gross negligence manslaughter and the Ministry of Justice and NOMS for corporate manslaughter arising from the death of Robert Fenlon at HMP Woodhill. Led by Rajiv Menon QC. Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 2511 (Admin): Application for fresh inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting, a highly vulnerable woman who took her own life following the termination of her benefits by the DWP. The case involves novel issues concerning the engagement of Article 2 ECHR to vulnerable benefit claimants. Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 1738 (Admin): Application by SSWP to be joined as IP in application under s.13 of the Coroners Act 1988. R (Turner) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2021] EWHC 465 (Admin): Challenge to the DWP’s policy for the protection of vulnerable benefits claimants. The Claimant is the daughter-in-law of Errol Graham, a man suffering from complex mental health issues who starved to death following the termination of his benefits by the DWP. Led by Adam Straw QC. COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice v Prime Minster and Secretary of State for Health: Proposed challenge to the failure to establish a public inquiry into the government’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Pete Wetherby QC. R (EA and BT) v Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry [2020] EWHC 2053 (Admin): Challenge by survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing to the decision refusing them Core Participant status within the Manchester Arena Inquiry. Significant Divisional Court judgment on Core Participant status, delay and non-fatal Article 2 cases. Led by Paul Greaney QC. R (British Medical Association) v Chief Coroner for England and Wales: Proposed challenge to guidance on the coronial investigation of deaths arising from COVID-19. Settled following amendment to the guidance. Led by Jenni Richards QC. R (Ketcher & Mitchell) v Coroner for Northern Ireland [2020] NICA 31: Assisted Brenda Campbell QC with INQUEST intervention in case concerning privilege in inquest proceedings and whether a coroner can compel disclosure of an expert report held by an Interested Person. R (MA BB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1523 (Admin): Successful challenge against the inadequacy of the investigation into evidence of significant abuse and mistreatment of detained persons at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. The claim led to the establishment of the Brook House Inquiry. Led by Nick Armstrong. R (P, G and W) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Secretary of State for Justice [2019] UKSC 3: Supreme Court case concerning the circumstances in which individuals are required to disclose minor and old convictions to potential employers. Jesse acted for Unlock, the leading charity providing a voice and support for people facing stigma and obstacles because of their criminal record. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC. R (Vinter) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 2104: Article 3 challenge to whole life orders. Led by Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC. R v Blackman (Marine A) [2017] EWCA Crim 326: Application to have significant, public interest video footage released to the media. The footage showed Mr Blackman, a former UK marine, killing an injured Afghan combatant in 2011. Jesse represented the BBC, ITN, Sky, The Times and The Guardian. R (Scarfe) v Governor of HMP Woodhill and Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 1194 (Admin): Represented INQUEST in this challenge arising from the multiple self-inflicted deaths of prisoners at HMP Woodhill. INQUEST’s intervention focused on the repeated failure of State bodies to implement recommendations and prevent future deaths. Led by Heather Williams QC. Secretary of State for the Home Department v HM Senior Coroner for Surrey [2016] EWHC 3001 (Admin): Leading authority on the approach to security sensitive and PII material in inquest proceedings. Jesse acted for INQUEST in their intervention. Led by Heather Williams QC. R (Oliver) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2016] EWHC 1771 (Admin): Challenge to CPS refusal to prosecute a police custody sergeant for gross negligence manslaughter arising from the death from alcohol withdrawal of a vulnerable detainee. Led by Matthew Ryder QC. R (Hicks) v Inner North London Senior Coroner [2016] EWHC 1726 (Admin): Representing the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit in 2014. Challenge to the Coroner’s decision preventing the family being in court when the four key police witnesses gave evidence on how Henry was killed. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC.

Inquests and Inquiries

Jesse is a leading inquest and inquiries lawyer. He has appeared in many of the most high-profile inquests and inquiries in recent years involving serious, systemic State and corporate failings, including the Hillsborough Inquests, the Deepcut Inquests, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, the Brook House Inquiry and the Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests. Jesse is regularly instructed in contentious and complex inquests and inquiries involving mass fatalities, terrorism, the Security Services, Public Interest Immunity, deaths in prison and police custody, deaths in psychiatric and immigration detention, domestic homicide cases, the deaths of military personnel, and cases engaging regulatory deficiencies, public service outsourcing and corporate failings. Jesse specialises in novel Article 2 inquests expanding the duty on the State to investigate the deaths of vulnerable people in the community. This has included acting for the families of vulnerable benefit claimants who have starved to death and taken their own lives following the termination of their benefits by the DWP, and representing the families of people who have taken their own lives after becoming addicted to gambling. Jesse has represented numerous bereaved families, assisting them through the inquest and inquiry process with sensitivity, skill and determination. He has been recognised in Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500 as being “very collaborative”, “very good with bereaved families”, “good at working with vulnerable clients”, and having “exceptionally good client care skills”. He has also been described as “a clear and forceful advocate” and “an accomplished jury [inquest] advocate who is not afraid to ask the difficult questions.” As well as acting for bereaved families, Jesse has been instructed as Counsel to the Inquest and Counsel to the Inquiry (CTI). He brings his extensive experience of representing bereaved families to his work as CTI, and assists bereaved families drawing on his experience as CTI. Notable cases Inquests and Inquiries: R (Lewis) v Secretary of State for Defence: Successful legitimate expectation challenge to the failure of the Army to implement changes promised at the inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton, who died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995. Jesse acted for Pte Benton’s family. The claim settled with the MoD conceding that the Army had failed to meet the assurances it had given at the inquest, apologising, and urgently revising its training materials. The Manchester Arena Inquiry: Lead Junior Counsel to the Inquiry (previously Counsel to the Inquests). The Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests: Representing the family of Jack Merritt. Inquests into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals found in a container in Purfleet, Essex in 2019: Representing a number of NGOs seeking full inquests into the deaths. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry: Representing over 170 bereaved and survivor Core Participants. The Brook House Inquiry: Representing multiple victim and NGO Core Participants. Inquest into the death of Sean Benton: Sean died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995 from five gunshot wounds to the chest. Jesse represented Sean’s family at the fresh inquest into his death. In his conclusions the Coroner identified a toxic environment of abuse and chronic under-resourcing at Deepcut, and found that Sgt Gavaghan, who was responsible for trainee welfare, had systematically bullied and hounded Sean in the lead up to his death, as well as assaulting multiple other trainees. The Hillsborough Inquests: Representing the families of 77 of those killed in the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster. The inquests returned a conclusion of unlawful killing. The Undercover Policing Inquiry: Representing applicants for Core Participant status. Inquest into the death of Daniel Dunkley: Daniel took his own life at HMP Woodhill. The jury returned a critical narrative and neglect conclusion, finding that a failure by the prison to implement previous recommendations contributed to Daniel’s death. Inquests into the deaths of Christine and Lucy Lee: Christine and Lucy were murdered by Christine’s partner after shotguns were wrongly returned to him by Surrey Police. Jesse successfully helped the family to secure the resumption of the inquests, leading to a highly critical narrative conclusion from the jury.   Inquests and Inquiries (Public Law cases): Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 2511 (Admin): Application for fresh inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting, a highly vulnerable woman who took her own life following the termination of her benefits by the DWP. The case involves novel issues concerning the engagement of Article 2 ECHR to vulnerable benefit claimants. Dove v HM Assistant Coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool [2021] EWHC 1738 (Admin): Application by SSWP to be joined as IP in application under s.13 of the Coroners Act 1988. COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice v Prime Minster and Secretary of State for Health: Proposed challenge to the failure to establish a public inquiry into the government’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Pete Wetherby QC. R (EA and BT) v Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry [2020] EWHC 2053 (Admin): Challenge by survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing to the decision refusing them Core Participant status within the Manchester Arena Inquiry. Significant Divisional Court judgment on Core Participant status, delay and non-fatal Article 2 cases. Led by Paul Greaney QC. R (British Medical Association) v Chief Coroner for England and Wales: Proposed challenge to guidance on the coronial investigation of deaths arising from COVID-19. Settled following amendment to the guidance. Led by Jenni Richards QC. R (Ketcher & Mitchell) v Coroner for Northern Ireland [2020] NICA 31: Assisted Brenda Campbell QC with INQUEST intervention in case concerning privilege in inquest proceedings and whether a coroner can compel disclosure of an expert report held by an Interested Person. R (MA BB) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1523 (Admin): Successful challenge against the inadequacy of the investigation into evidence of significant abuse and mistreatment of detained persons at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. The claim led to the establishment of the Brook House Inquiry. Led by Nick Armstrong. R (Scarfe) v Governor of HMP Woodhill and Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 1194 (Admin): Represented INQUEST in this challenge arising from the multiple self-inflicted deaths of prisoners at HMP Woodhill. INQUEST’s intervention focused on the repeated failure of State bodies to implement recommendations and prevent future deaths. Led by Heather Williams QC. Secretary of State for the Home Department v HM Senior Coroner for Surrey [2016] EWHC 3001 (Admin): Leading authority on the approach to security sensitive and PII material in inquest proceedings. Jesse acted for INQUEST in their intervention. Led by Heather Williams QC. R (Hicks) v Inner North London Senior Coroner [2016] EWHC 1726 (Admin): Representing the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit in 2014. Challenge to the Coroner’s decision preventing the family being in court when the four key police witnesses gave evidence on how Henry was killed. Led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC.

Police Law

Jesse is a police law specialist. He represents victims of police restraint, use of force, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. He has secured high-value settlements in many such cases. He was previously Chair of the Police Action Lawyers Group and has been consistently recognised as a leading police law practitioner in Chambers and Partners. His expertise spans the full range of police claims, including claims for personal injury arising from police use of force, false imprisonment, victims of armed policing operations, claims arising from police dishonesty and misfeasance, failure to investigate and failure to protect claims, the unlawful policing of protest, police surveillance, unlawful search warrants, invasion and seizure of property, information and personal data claims, discrimination, misuse of private information, and a variety of claims under the Human Rights Act. Jesse has particular experience in acting for vulnerable individuals who have been subjected to police misconduct, including bereaved families, children, persons with disabilities, women who have suffered domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence, protesters, and individuals subjected to human trafficking and modern slavery. Jesse also assists victims in relation to police misconduct and disciplinary proceedings, seeking to ensure victim involvement and accountability, including through judicial review proceedings where necessary. Notable cases Providing assistance to victims of Jim Boyling, an undercover officer dismissed for gross misconduct for entering into intimate sexual relationships with those he was spying on. Representing the mother of Julian Cole, who suffered catastrophic brain and spinal injuries following police restraint. Three officers were dismissed for gross misconduct. Acting for the family of Henry Hicks, who was killed during an unauthorised police pursuit.

Prison Law and Criminal Justice

Jesse has extensive experience in representing claimants in public law and damages claims against the prison authorities, private contractors, the Ministry of Justice, the Parole Board and the Probation Service. His experience includes acting for clients in claims for assault (by both prison staff and other prisoners), failures to make reasonable adjustments for disabled prisoners, lack of access to offending behaviour courses, challenges to prison conditions, licence conditions, adjudications, and Parole Board decisions, and claims arising from maladministration and delay. Jesse also acts for prisoners at Parole Board hearings and Close Supervision Centre panels, including complex cases involving national security, counterterrorism and restrictive disclosure issues.

Immigration Detention

Jesse acts for individuals subject to immigration detention powers in judicial review and civil claims for unlawful detention. He has represented victims of torture, numerous clients subject to Dublin III Regulations ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in R (Hemmati) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 56, clients subjected to assaults and discrimination in immigration detention, and a number of individuals suffering from serious mental health issues in detention.

Claims against other Public Authorities

Jesse represents clients in a wide range of other claims against public authorities, including claims against the Ministry of Defence for assault and failure to investigate rape, sexual abuse and serious violence, claims for unlawful disclosure of personal information, actions against the Department of Work and Pensions, claims against local authorities for failing to prevent abuse of children, and deprivation of liberty claims.

Media and Open Justice

Jesse acts for a wide range of print, broadcast and social media organisations in open justice and freedom of expression cases, including challenges to reporting restriction orders, anonymity orders and restrictions on media access to court hearings, privacy, data protection and contempt of court cases, freedom of information claims, and applications for access to court documents. Jesse previously worked in-house at The Times legal department, engaging with and advising journalists and editors on a daily basis. He has also provided pre-publication advice to a number of national newspapers. He is therefore able to offer clear, practical advice to media clients, understanding the pressures they are under and focusing on their core objectives when becoming involved in legal proceedings. Notable cases R v Blackman (Marine A) [2017] EWCA Crim 326 The Undercover Policing Inquiry: Challenging anonymity orders granted to a number of police officers. Blue v Ashley [2017] EWHC 1928 (Comm) R v Khan, Dogar & Others (Operations Nautical, Sabaton and Silk): Successful challenges to s.45(4) orders in linked, high-profile child sexual exploitation trials. R v Pogmore: Successful application for access to evidence shown to the jury during high-profile case of police misconduct. R v Rahmin & Others (Operations Shelter and Emerald): Challenges to reporting restrictions in child sexual exploitation trials.

International Law

Jesse is an international human rights specialist. He has acted in a number of international human rights claims, including: AAA & Others v Gemfields Limited: Represented 273 Mozambicans who alleged that that they and their relatives were the victims of serious human rights abuses at the Montepuez Ruby Mine in northern Mozambique. Settled with payment of a financial sum to the claimants, the establishment of community projects to improve the agricultural productivity and livelihoods of those living at and near the mine, and the creation of an independent Operational Grievance Mechanism to ensure that any individual who wishes to raise a grievance is able to obtain an appropriate remedy promptly. Led by Tim Otty QC. Virtanen v Finland (ECtHR App. No. 53251/13): Intervention for the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre setting out the relevant ECHR, UNCRPD and other international standards applicable to a claim involving the enforced location of a person with disabilities. R (Trapence and Mtambo) v Malawian Director of Public Prosecutions(Constitutional Cause No.1/2017): Advising Malawian human rights defenders in relation to a proposed claim for judicial review following the DPP’s refusal to prosecute a senior Malawian politician for calling for the killing of homosexual people. Kolakovic v Malta (ECtHR App. No. 76392/12): Violation of Article 5 ECHR arising from lengthy post-bail detention of a British national. Balaj and Others v United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (HRAP Case No. 04.07): Violation of Articles 2 and 11 ECHR arising from the killing of two men, and the injury of numerous others, by UN peacekeepers in 2007 during a protest in Pristina, Kosovo. Aydan v Turkey (ECtHR App. No. 16281/10): Violations of Articles 2 and 6 ECHR arising from the shooting of a passer-by at a demonstration. Sizeable damages were awarded. Assisted Jude Bunting.

Publications

Jesse is co-author of Halsbury’s Laws of England: Rights and Freedoms, a contributor to Inquests: A Practitioner’s Guide (LAG), a contributing author to Human Rights Practice (Sweet & Maxwell), and he has contributed to Judicial Review: Law and Practice (Jordans). Jesse has also been published in a range of legal journals, including Judicial Review, Inquest Law and Legal Action.

Training

Jesse contributes substantial time training others across the range of his areas of practice. This includes training for the Public Law Project, Medical Justice, INQUEST and LAG.

Education

Trinity College, Cambridge: BA Hons History, First Class with Distinction (2007) City University: Graduate Diploma in Law (2009) BPP: Bar Vocational Course (2010) Inner Temple: Exhibition Scholarship (2008), Peter Taylor Scholarship (2009)
Jesse's Privacy Notice

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DIRECTORY RECOMMENDATIONS

"He is really effective, committed and provides quick turnaround with his work." "He's good at identifying clients' needs and picking out appropriate routes of legal recourse."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Inquests & Public Inquiries

"Jesse has a first-rate mind, he is incredibly quick and he is a strategic thinker." "He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law." "He is a very careful barrister and is thorough in his advice."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Civil Liberties & Human Rights

"Jesse Nicholls has a first-rate mind, he is incredibly quick and he is a strategic thinker." "He is a meticulous, strategic and uncompromising barrister, and really listens to his clients and solicitors."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Administrative & Public Law

"A super knowledgeable barrister with excellent drafting skills and great knowledge of case law."

Chambers & Partners, 2022, Police Law: Mainly Claimant

"Jesse has an authoritative understanding of all aspects of civil liberties law. He is particularly good on cases arising from breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Legal 500, 2022, Administrative & Public Law (Including Elections)

"Outstanding on the law and often used by leaders to draft legal submissions. Very conscientious and hard-working, good on his feet and excellent judgement."

Legal 500, 2022, Inquests and Inquiries

“A complete star”

“A dream of a barrister”

“A brilliant all-rounder with an excellent legal mind. He is a clear and forceful advocate and his written work is second to none. He covers all bases.”

“A joy to work with – a real team player who has phenomenal knowledge of the law. His written work is also outstanding, and he is an accomplished jury advocate who is not afraid to ask the difficult questions. It’s no wonder he’s so in demand – a true star.”

"Extremely intelligent and thorough; he has excellent judgement and his drafting is impeccable. He also has exceptionally good client care skills.”

"Ridiculously bright, works incredibly hard, and always works his way through issues with enthusiasm, bringing to bear his expansive knowledge across multiple areas.”

“An incredibly intelligent barrister, his written work is always phenomenal and he can advocate in tricky circumstances. He’s also good at working with vulnerable clients; he’s engaging and understanding.”

"Absolutely fantastic – extremely bright and very good at working as a team. He’s very collaborative, responsive, extremely hard-working and very good with bereaved families.”

Chambers & Partners and Legal 500