Category: News

1MCB welcomes new tenant

Chambers is delighted to announce that Lucy Chapman has accepted an offer of tenancy following the successful completion of pupillage.

Lucy accepts instructions across chambers’ practice areas, including crime, family and housing.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Lucy was a trade union advocate and ran her own award winning pro bono project for social housing tenants, CommUnify, having been highlighted as an individual who has made a significant contribution to access to justice by the Access to Justice Foundation.


John Benson QC prosecutes murder of 22 month old child

John Benson QC recently prosecuted a 25 year old male for the murder of his partner’s 22 month old child, who died from a catastrophic head injury. The child had also suffered additional injuries including bi-lateral retinal haemorrhages.

This was a complex and emotionally challenging case involving a host of medical experts for both the prosecution and defence giving evidence principally in the fields of neuropathology and pathology. The defendant did not deny that the injuries had been suffered when the child was in his sole care over a period of about 45 minutes: the primary issue at trial was whether the injuries were suffered accidentally in a fall downstairs as claimed by the defendant or, as the Crown maintained, unlawfully.

Prior to trial, the defendant had indicated that he would be prepared to plead guilty to manslaughter – a proposal that was considered acceptable to the Crown. However, he later changed his mind and was convicted by the jury of murder. The press described the defendant has having ‘gambled and lost’.

Gwawr Thomas successfully defends man accused of faking his own death

Gwawr Thomas recently secured the acquittal of a nurse accused of faking his own death in order to benefit from a substantial life insurance payment.

The defendant’s wife had pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, having instigated the bogus insurance claim and submitted false documents in support of it. The fraud came to light when it had emerged that she had posted pictures on social media of a family outing to a theme park on the day of her husband’s supposed burial.

The Crown relied on three key pieces of evidence to demonstrate that the defendant had been complicit in the fraud: firstly, the fact that a photograph of his own death certificate was located in the camera roll of his phone; secondly the fact that his fingerprints were found on a hard copy of the same death certificate which had been concealed at his home address, and his alleged lies at interview. However, Gwawr argued that this evidence was equally consistent with the defendant having uncovered the fraud at a later date, and that there was no evidence from which the jury could infer that he had actually been party to any untrue representation to the insurance company: as such, there was no case to answer.

The judge agreed with Gwawr’s analysis of the evidence and directed that the jury return a not guilty verdict.

Salma Lalani secures acquittal of defendant charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life

The defendant had been released from prison on licence after serving a sentence for drugs offences. He had made significant progress in his rehabilitation by securing a job and re-establishing his family relationships.

However, a few months after his release he was informed by the police that he was the subject of a Threat to Life notice. As such, it was deemed that there was a real and immediate threat to his life, but he was told no more. The defendant assumed that the threat emanated from a £250,000 drugs debt where he had refused to be used as an intermediary. In the following weeks both he had his partner received sinister calls and visits to their workplace.

The police received intelligence that the defendant had obtained a firearm and armed officers executed a search warrant at his family home in the early hours of the morning. When they searched the property they did indeed find a fully working firearm with four live rounds loaded in the magazine ready to be fired. The defendant already had two previous convictions for possession of firearms and the jury was aware that he had been in prison and released on licence. The prosecution submitted that the intention of anyone who has a firearm loaded and ready to be fired could really only be for one thing – to shoot someone if and when required: the defendant had been threatened and that may well be the reason he armed himself with a loaded gun to extinguish the threat.

The defence was able to exclude incomplete telephone evidence, as well as question the investigation and the manner the police adopted in issuing the Threat to Life notice. The defendant maintained from the outset that he had never intended to harm anyone but simply to brandish the weapon if the need arose to scare someone away. He was acquitted.

Cynthia McFarlane recognised as Mediation Achiever of the Year

Cynthia McFarlane has been named Mediation Achiever of the Year at the Personal Injury Awards 2020.

Cynthia is a committed advocate of mediation and is dedicated to demonstrating its benefits to professional and lay clients alike.  A large proportion of her mediation work features cases of personal injury in the context of accidents at work in a specialist equine or equestrian context involving jockeys and racehorses.  Most recently she was called upon to speak about the benefits of mediation at the Horse Tech Conference, a global event in which she specifically focused on mediation during the time of Covid-19.  Her webinar titled ‘Covid-19: Out of Quarantine and into the Fire?’ addressed the recent Covid-19 government guidance on responsible contractual behaviour and the enforcement of contracts and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – including  mediation – in legal disputes during these unprecedented times, and further demonstrates her commitment to bringing the benefits of mediation to a global audience.

Cynthia’s principal objective is to use mediation as a powerful tool to encourage inclusivity in the horse industry, to assist minority groups of all backgrounds and to tackle racism in order to cause significant shifts within that industry.

For further information about Cynthia’s mediation work, please visit For further information about her specialist equine law work, please see

Guide to defending against evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus swept through the UK in March 2020, the government suspended new evictions and a bold commitment was made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”.

Despite the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the initial stay on possession proceedings was lifted on 20th September 2020.  A new strategy and procedure has been introduced whereby notice periods have been extended and there is a temporary ban on most evictions until 11th January 2021.

In order to navigate these changes, housing barrister Geeta Koska has prepared a short guide to support advisers and solicitors facing residential possession proceedings and evictions.  As the new measures fall short of the promise that tenants would not be forced out of their homes, the guide considers the tools available to protect tenants against being made homeless this winter. 

As 2020 draws to a close, we continue to wait for the Renter’s Reform Bill, which would abolish “no fault evictions” under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, and a realistic plan to mitigate the economic and social cost of the pandemic.  In these challenging circumstances, 1MCB’s housing team will continue to defend and promote the rights of tenants.

The complete guide can be downloaded here.

Michael Sprack represents ex-employee in High Court gagging order case

The solicitors’ firm, Vardags Ltd, alleged that the ex-employee had leaked confidential information. Michael Sprack, representing the ex-employee, successfully resisted Vardag’s arguments that the hearing should be held in private with reporting restrictions, that the Defendant should be required to provide information and that the Defendant should pay the Claimant’s costs of £68,000, which were reserved.

The underlying allegations relate to a leak, allegedly by the ex-employee, of an ‘all staff email’ reminding female staff that they could dress in a ‘discreetly sexy’ manner. Both the original leak and the recent High Court hearing have received extensive media coverage.

The case raises complex questions about the scope of the equitable and contractual obligations of confidence, as well as the right to free expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cynthia McFarlane shortlisted for Personal Injury Awards 2020 Mediation Achiever of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Cynthia McFarlane has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Mediation Achiever of the Year category at the Personal Injury Awards 2020.

The objectives of the awards are to identify high standards of practice and to inspire others to emulate the achievements demonstrated by those who have been shortlisted.

Cynthia is an experienced barrister who has demonstrated a track record of successes achieved through the use of mediation to benefit her clients.  She used innovative and effective approaches and showed an ability to think outside the box.

We are proud that she has shown dedication to advocating the benefits of mediation to the profession and clients, and that her contribution to the wider legal community has been recognised.

Cynthia has been commended as “not only excellent as a barrister, but she is also amazing as a mediator. Having attended some mediation sessions that were conducted by her, I can certainly say that she takes a pragmatic approach for all the parties concerned and she does not over complicate things but rather makes the process easy to understand by all parties.”

It is wonderful that her work has been recognised and included as a finalist for the 2020 awards.

The virtual award ceremony will take place on 1st December 2020. To watch the event please register to live stream here.


1MCB welcomes Soraya Bauwens as a new tenant

We are pleased to welcome Soraya Bauwens as a new tenant.  Soraya practises in crime, international human rights and international criminal law, having completed her  third six in chambers.  She is an expert on international human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region and has appeared regularly  before various UN bodies, both as an expert and to represent victims of human rights abuses, in the context of juvenile justice, human trafficking, and counterterrorism. She has particular expertise in preparing  submissions to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Procedures and Committees.  In addition, Soraya is currently appointed as a researcher to the Uyghur Tribunal, investigating alleged genocide in northwestern China.

1MCB members achieve rankings in Chambers & Partners 2021

We are delighted that Iain Edwards and Anna Watterson achieved rankings in the latest edition of Chambers & Partners directory 2021.

Iain Edwards was ranked for a sixth consecutive year in the field of International Criminal Law. Iain was noted as “A respected practitioner who attracts praise for his deep knowledge of international criminal law. He has spent a considerable amount of time representing individuals accused of genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He has also appeared before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague. [He is currently involved] in the Jovica Stanišić & Franko Simatović retrial before the IRMCT.” Iain was particularly recognised for his trial advocacy and as being “excellent with witnesses.”

Anna Watterson is ranked in Band 4 for Social Housing. Anna was noted as “A well-regarded junior with expertise across a range of housing matters. She regularly represents tenants in possession cases, as well as disrepair claims. She is a part-time First-tier Tribunal judge in the Social Entitlement Chamber.” She was particularly praised for her “Impressive oral advocacy.”​ ​

Amritpal Bachu nominated Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020

1MCB Chambers is delighted with its newest tenant Amritpal Bachu’s nomination for Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020.  Chambers has a 40-year history of representing all sectors of the community, particularly disadvantaged groups.  Our barristers have a earned a reputation for being “fighters” (Legal 500 2021), and Amritpal is no exception.  We are proud of Amritpal’s commitment to access to justice and have our fingers tightly crossed in support of him.

Amritpal has been undertaking employment related discrimination cases, particularly over the Covid-19 national lockdown. He also stepped up on housing cases, including representing alleged squatters facing eviction during the pandemic. In recognition of Amritpal’s willingness to act pro bono, an instructing solicitor commented “Amrit is a credit to the profession”.  Amritpal also contributed more widely to combat discrimination arising from Covid-19 by assisting the Equal Rights Trust (“ERT”) on their initiative addressing state responses to the pandemic.  Amritpal’s legal and policy research helped frame the ERT’s policy position on ‘immunisation certificates’ and ‘track and trace’ applications, as well as being relied upon for their advocacy submission to the UN Special Procedure mandate holders on Covid-19.

David Abbot, Chief Executive of the Free Representation Unit, said “Amrit has always been sympathetic, kind and willing to go the extra mile to get the right result” and “wholeheartedly” supports his nomination as Junior Pro Bono Barrister of the Year 2020.

Iain Edwards, Salma Lalani, Benjamin Hawkin & Bernadette Smith recognised in Legal 500

Four members of 1 MCB Chambers have been ranked in the 2021 edition of Legal 500.  Congratulations to Iain Edwards, Bernadette Smith, Ben Hawkin and Salma Lalani.

Iain Edwards was ranked for International crime and extradition:

Unflappable in court. He puts everyone in the courtroom at ease whilst at the same time remaining focused, thorough and succinct. Mr. Edwards remains at the top of his game and a stalwart in international criminal proceedings.

Iain is a seasoned and compassionate barrister specialising in serious crime.  He represents defendants charged with the gravest of offences and has a particular expertise in international crimes. He is developing a strong practice in extradition.

Salma Lalani was ranked for Crime:

Highly impressed by her meticulous case preparation, strong work ethic and excellent client care. Her approach is one of forensic preparation, precise cross-examination and passionate advocacy.”

Salma specialises mainly in criminal defence work and has developed a highly successful practice encompassing all areas of serious and complex crime.  A well-respected leading junior highly sought after by solicitors who are impressed by her sensible, thorough and well-balanced approach to often difficult matters.

Benjamin Hawkin was ranked for Immigration (including business immigration):

He goes straight to the core of the matter and provides clear and concise advice.”

Ben practises in immigration & asylum, mental health, prison law and public law, with a particular emphasis on human rights issues. He has appeared at every level of the tribunal and court system, representing victims of human rights violations, leaders of political groups, high-ranking military officers, diplomats, terrorists, financiers and long term serving prisoners. Ben has been involved in a number of ground breaking cases in the higher courts.

Bernadette Smith was ranked for Immigration (including business immigration):

Bernadette is accessible and engaged throughout the preparation period, her knowledge in immigration and asylum matters is excellent, she is creative, very bright, and her input is invaluable.”

Bernadette is an immigration, asylum and public law specialist.  She is committed to representing publicly funded and vulnerable clients and is experienced in representing individuals in complex cases.  She delivers training on asylum and recently co-authored two working guides, one for representatives and one for unrepresented appellants, on the procedural changes that were introduced into the Immigration and Asylum Chamber due to the pandemic. ​