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Phillippa took silk in 2011. Her expertise spans the public and private law arenas. She is equally at home in complex trials requiring mastery of large volumes of evidence and skilled cross examination as before the Administrative Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court arguing novel and difficult points of law. Phillippa was awarded ‘Human Rights and Public Law Silk of the Year’ at the 2014 Chambers Bar Awards. She is an ADR Group Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator.

Claims against Public Authorities

Phillippa has extensive experience in complex private law claims brought against public authorities including central government department such as the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence, FCO as well as other public authorities such as the police.

Recent cases include DSD and NBV v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2015] EWCA Civ 646 a claim under the Human Rights Act 1998 for failures to conduct effective investigations as required by Article 3. The claimants were victims of London cab driver John Worboys who is believed to have seriously sexually assaulted over 100 women.  The Court of Appeal gave valuable guidance on the nature and scope of the positive obligations imposed under Article 3.  The High Court judge gave additional guidance on the proper approach to an award of damages for just satisfaction: [2015] 1 WR 1833.

Since 2011 she has been acting for eight women in claims against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner arising out of misconduct of undercover police officers who while undercover engaged in intimate relationships with claimant protesters: AKJ and others v Commissioner of Police [2014] 1 WLR 285 (CA) and DIL and others v Commissioner of Police. The cases will now form part of the independent investigation into undercover policing being conducted by Lord Justice Pitchford.

She is representing over 800 Iraqis bringing private law damages claims both under the Human Rights Act and for assault and false imprisonment following their internment in the aftermath of the Iraq war. Among these is Yunus Rahmatullah who was captured by British forces in early 2004 and  transferred to US control after which he was held in Abu Ghraib before being rendered to Afghanistan. He was detained there in Bagram airbase until June 2014. The MOD has sought to strike out his claim on grounds of state immunity, foreign act of state and crown act, failing in respect of all grounds: [2015] EWCA Civ 843; [2014] EWHC 3846 (QB). The MOD is appealing to the Supreme Court.

She represents Martin McGartland former IRA informant in a negligence claim against the MI5. The case raises the important question of how the court should approach the determination whether to make a declaration under section 6 of the Justice and Security Act 2013 that the Secretary of State is entitled to apply for evidence to be heard by way of a closed material procedure. Permission to appeal is being sought from the Supreme Court: [2015] EWCA 686.

Administrative and Public Law

Phillippa has an extensive public law practice representing a broad range of individual applicants. She also acts for NGOs such as Reprieve and Privacy International. She is described in Chambers and Partners (2012) as “a true public law all-rounder,” who “can turn her hand to many matters” and as an“exceptionally talented silk who maintains her outstanding reputation for her public law work”(2015). Recently, she has been involved in two systemic challenges to the cuts to legal aid introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, one to the operation of the exceptional funding scheme established to give effect to s. 10 of the Act (R (IS) v Director of the Legal Aid Authority and the Lord Chancellor), the other to the removal from scope of many areas of prison law (R (Prisoners Advice Service and the Howard League) v Lord Chancellor [2015] EWCA 819 (Civ) which is to be heard in the Court of Appeal.

Inquiries and Inquests

Phillippa has extensive experience both of inquests and bringing challenges to coronial decisions by way of judicial review. She is one of the senior counsel team appointed to the Goddard Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

In the last year she has been involved in three challenges to the circumstances in which deaths in state custody are investigated. In R (Letts) v Lord Chancellor [2015] EWHC 402 (Admin)  the court found the Lord Chancellor’s guidance on the grant of exceptional funding in inquest cases was unlawful. R (Brennan) v Secretary of State and others is pending in the Court of Appeal. The challenge, under the HRA, is to the independence of the system for the investigation of self inflicted deaths by psychiatric patients on the grounds that the evidence gathering phase is not independent of the hospital authority where the patient died. Delezuch v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is a challenge again based on Article 2 ECHR, to the system for taking first accounts from officers involved in a death arising from the use of police force. Permission to appeal is being sought from the Supreme Court.

International Law

Phillippa has an extensive international law practice in the field of human rights. She was part of the team representing the claimants in the “Mau Mau” litigation against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office arising out of the systematic torture of suspected insurgents in the Kenyan uprising in the 1950s, and represents over 800 Iraqis bringing private law damages claims both under the Human Rights Act and for assault and false imprisonment following their internment in the aftermath of the Iraq war. She also represents Yunus Rahmatullah a man who was detained in Abu Ghraib, rendered to Afghanistan and held for 10 years in Bagram following his transfer to US forces by British forces who captured him in Iraq in 2004.

Media Law and Defamation

It was through her prisoners’ rights practice that Phillippa first branched out into media law. She has represented many prisoners seeking access to the media, including the appellants in the seminal House of Lords case Simms and O’Brien and in 2012, Babar Ahmad in the successful judicial review brought by the BBC in which exceptionally the Divisional Court held that a refusal to allow an interview for broadcast purposes was contrary to Article 10 ECHR. She has been involved in securing injunctive protection on behalf of a number of individuals convicted of notorious crimes whose life or mental well-being was put under threat by the glare of publicity. She represented Mary Bell and Maxine Carr when they secured lifelong contra mundum injunctions preventing the publication of any information liable to lead to the disclosure of their new identities.

More recently she acted for Jon Venables in relation to the continued operation of the contra-mundum injunction secured on his release on licence in 2001, following his further prosecution in 2010.

Prison Law and Crime Related Public Law

Phillippa began specialising in prisoner’s rights in the early 1990s when this was a little known area of law. She was involved in most of the leading House of Lords cases extending the scope of prisoners’ rights, particularly the rights of indeterminate sentence prisoners. She undertakes all aspects of prison law, be they Parole Board hearings, where she has recently represented Learco Chimdamo in relation to his recall to prison, or complex judicial reviews.

Phillippa is Chair of the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, a small charity which takes strategic litigation to promote the rights of the learning disabled and persons suffering from mental ill-health.

Privacy Notice

Phillippa is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to her clients, including advice and representation services, Phillippa needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes her clients’ personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matters in respect of which she is instructed. To read Phillippa’s privacy notice in full, please see here.

Phillippa is regulated by the Bar Standards Board and accepts instructions under Standard Contractual Terms. To find out more information on this and the way we work at Matrix, including our fee transparency statement, please see our see our service standards.


She is identified in three practice areas by Chambers & Partners (administrative and public law; civil liberties and police law) where she is described as “one of the leading lawyers of her generation, who presents issues beautifully and is a blistering advocate” (2017).

Senior solicitors, and their counterparts at the Bar, confirm that she is a “really remarkable”, “brilliant and hugely creative” practitioner (2014) who “has a phenomenal intellect and takes a really incisive approach to cases” (2017). She’s excellent in cross-examination and has a wonderful advocacy style which helps to get juries on side.” “She brings incisive intellect to every case she considers” (2017).  Phillippa is “mellifluous, clever and very strategic”, (2015), “a real joy to work with” (2014), “a great trial advocate who knows her law and tactics inside out, and is extremely dedicated.  She is superb at thinking on her feet, and is as good at presenting innovative and detailed submissions as she is at responding off the cuff” (2015).