queen's counsel, doughtY street chambers
Edward Fitzgerald QC has been named as Human Rights and Public Law Silk of the Year. (Chambers Bar Awards 2013.) Previous commendations include Legal Aid Lawyer of the year in 2009, the winner of the Silk of the Year award in 2005 and Times Justice Human Rights Award in 1998. He specialises in criminal law, public law, judicial review and international human rights law. In June 2008 he was awarded the CBE for services to human rights.
He is ranked 1st in Extradition in Chambers and Partners and has been described as “a true intellectual giant – a top-class extradition and appellate lawyer”.
As a criminal practitioner he has featured in many of the leading cases involving high profile defendants, extradition, appeals against miscarriages of justice, and international law. Amongst others he has defendedSilvio Berlusconi, Boris Berezovsky, Akhmed Zakayev (the Deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya), Michael Missick (the Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands) and the Chief Justice of Gibraltar, Derek Schofield.
His practice extends to Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He successfully led the campaign to save the life of Yong Vi Kong, who had been sentenced to death in Singapore. He conducted the defence of Michael Wongin Hong Kong at first instance and successfully represented him and Shum Chiu in their successive appeals against their convictions in the Hong Kong Court of Appeal. He successfully represented Lai Kan Lai in her appeal to the Hong Kong Court of Appeal. And, more recently, he won the appeal of Sam Tak Lee in the Final Court of Appeal on a point of law concerning legal professional privilege. Finally, he represented Nancy Kisselin her re-trial and further appeals.
He has extensive experience of jury trials including the defence of the Winchester Three, the Canary Wharf Bomber, Abu Hamza, Chetan Popat, Sarah Thornton (in her retrial) and has won a name as a skilful cross examiner in a number of high profile inquests and inquiries. He also frequently appears in the Privy Council in cases involving the constitutions of the Commonwealth Caribbean, death penalty appeals and extradition.
In the field of public law he has argued many of the leading cases on inquest law, prisoners' rights, mental health law and refugee law, detail further below.
His clients have included Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition, the Gurkhas in their fight for residence, the Hillsborough victims' families, the family of Derek Bentley in his successful posthumous appeal, the family of Private Farr in his battle for a posthumous pardon. He is representing Janan Harb(former wife of the King of Saudi Arabia), in her claim against the Saudi Royal Family, and has successfully defeated the claim of sovereign immunity in the High Court.
He has a wide ranging practice in international law. He has won many leading cases in the European Court against the United Kingdom, Greece and Spain, including, Abu Qatada v UK, Venables v UK, Steele and Others v UK, Stafford v UK, Scott v Spain and Portington v Greece. He has appeared in the Privy Council in numerous cases involving criminal appeals and constitutional challenges, including the cases of R v Reyes, R v Hughes and R v Fox, which struck down the mandatory death penalty in the Eastern Caribbean and Belize.
Edward has been called to the Bar in numerous jurisdictions including Belize, Grenada and St Vincent and has been granted rights of audience to appear in cases in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
He has appeared for the Fortis Energy Inc. at the Caribbean Court of Justice and has recently appeared forMichael Ashcroft in the Belize Court of Appeal and the Caribbean Court of Justice. He represented Steve Ferguson in the Trinidadian Court of Appeal in a case vindicating the appellant’s right to be tried in Trinidad rather than extradited to the US and appeared for the Grenada 17 in the case of R v Coard and Others, both in the Privy Council and on their re-sentencing in Grenada. He also argued the case of R v Bowe and Davis in the Bahamian Court of Appeal and the Privy Council. This led to the end of the mandatory death penalty in the Bahamas.
Some of Edward’s recent cases have included Pitman and Hernandez on the application of the Jogee decision in the Caribbean; and the constitutionality of sentencing to death those suffering from intellectual impairment. Judgment is awaited. On 22 June 2015, he represented the Chagos islanders in their bid to reopen the appeal. The Supreme Court narrowly ruled against it by 3 votes to 2. On 20 July 2016, he won the appeal of two Greek defendants against the extradition to Greece on the grounds that prison conditions were inhuman. This has effectively put extradition to Greece on hold. In December 2015, Edward successfully defeated the Rwandan government’s request for extradition against the alleged genocidaire, Celestin Ugirashebuja on Article 6 grounds. The appeal by the government to the High Court is to be heard in November 2016.
Edward has given many lectures and seminars throughout the world, including Hungary, Russia, France, Hong Kong, Barbados and Belize. He is the author with Keir Starmer QC of “ A Guide To Sentencing In Capital Cases”. He is also author of the chapter on sentencing in “Taylor on Appeals”. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Law in 2013.