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Tom Stoate

  • Call: 2011
Tom Stoate
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner
“He is bright, committed, tenacious and wonderful with clients.” “A rising star. Easy to work with and spot on in his analysis of legal issues.”

Chamber UK, 2019 (Police Law: Mainly Claimant)

“He has genuine empathy for clients and effectively manages their expectations. He is easy to work with and spot-on in his analysis of legal issues.”

Chambers UK, 2018

Tom Stoate specialises in public and human rights law, civil liberties, media and criminal justice.

In January 2019 Tom was appointed as an Assistant Coroner for Luton and Bedfordshire. He continues to accept instructions in all areas of his practice.

Tom is regularly instructed to represent bereaved families at inquests, with a particular focus on deaths in custody, mental health and the engagement of Article 2 ECHR. Tom is an active member of the Inquest Lawyers Group, a frequent contributor to Inquest Law, gives training and writes regular updates on coronial law.

Tom regularly acts in all aspects of civil proceedings following inquests, helping to secure settlements in a number of high profile recent cases.

Tom has also acted in a successful application for judicial review in the Divisional Court of a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute a doorman found by an inquest jury to have more than minimally contributed to the death of a young man (led by Rajiv Menon QC), now a reported case ([2014] EWHC 2516 (Admin)).

Notable Cases

Hillsborough Inquests
Instructed as junior counsel to ten of the bereaved families in the fresh inquests arising out of the Hillsborough stadium disaster. Following the longest-running inquests in British legal history, the jury concluded that the ninety-six men, women and children who lost their lives on 15 April 1989 were unlawfully killed.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry
Representing a group of current and former Labour party elected representatives, including senior Parliamentarians, in Lord Justice Pitchford’s public inquiry into undercover policing operations which targeted political and social justice campaigns.

Sean Rigg Inquest
As junior counsel to Leslie Thomas QC, represented the family of Sean Rigg in an eight-week death in custody inquest before a jury at Southwark Coroners Court, which gave rise to a verdict which was highly critical of the care, treatment and restraint of a mentally ill man by the Metropolitan Police and NHS. The case led to the first independent inquiry by the IPCC into one of its own investigations, and has been called “a watershed moment for the police service and the IPCC”. The case has since informed the government’s Independent Review into Deaths in Custody, the introduction of CCTV cameras in police vans, and led to the prosecution of a police officer for perjury in relation to evidence given during the inquest.

Catherine Horton Inquest
Represented the family of a patient at the Royal Bethlem Hospital who was detained under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983, and who took her own life at home after absconding from the ward. The inquest jury found that gross failures in her care (amounting to neglect) contributed to her death.

Ondrej Suha Inquest
Acted for the family of a 19 year-old who killed himself in prison after receiving a deportation letter from the Home Office, in which inadequate prison systems were criticised.

Sheldon Woodford Inquest
Represented the family of a vulnerable young man who died in custody, in which the inquest jury returned a highly critical narrative conclusion, concluding that lack of staff, training and consistent care had led to a failure to spot obvious patterns of risk.

Peter Barnes Inquest
Represented the family of Peter Barnes, who took his own life whilst in psychiatric detention, leading to a jury conclusion of systemic neglect at a private hospital after over three weeks of evidence.

Sam Alexander MC Inquest
Acted pro bono for the father of a young Royal Marine killed in controversial circumstances in the war in Afghanistan – a case in which important lessons were learned regarding training and equipment.

Tom is regularly instructed to represent claimants in the full spectrum of actions against the police and other public authorities, and is recognised as an outstanding junior barrister in these areas of work.

Tom was recently instructed for the successful claimant in an eight-day county court trial against a police force, and has acted as junior counsel in a claim, which was considered by the European Court of Human Rights, on the point of whether police cautions can act as inducements to admissions of guilt in criminal matters.

Tom has a busy practice acting and advising in the Court of Protection. He regularly accepts instructions from the Official Solicitor, family members and Local Authorities in respect of property and affairs, health and welfare and deprivation of liberty matters, in which Tom has experience in complex cases.

Tom’s extensive experience in dealing with sensitive issues in mental health care means he is ideally placed to advise on all applications concerning vulnerable adults in the Court of Protection.

Tom is an Associate Lecturer in on the postgraduate Media Law and Ethics course at the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London at the Department of Media and Communications.

Tom regularly gives pre-publication legal advice at the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and is developing a practice in the areas of libel, data protection, privacy and breach of confidence, as well as in reporting restrictions and anonymity orders.

Tom represents prisoners in human rights claims and judicial review proceedings against involving the Parole Board, the and Ministry of Justice and private prison operators – including a recently successful claim against arising out of a Prison Governor’s failure to organise a prisoner’s releases on temporary licence.

Tom has also represented prisoners in adjudication proceedings, and other hearings and before the Parole Board.

Tom has a particular interest in protest and civil liberties. Tom has defended a wide range of individuals and groups involved in public demonstrations, including a group of the Dale Farm protesters and legal observers – helping to ensure their prosecutions were dropped – and in high-profile protests against G4S. He has also been instructed in numerous civil claims arising out of the policing of protest.

Tom is passionately committed to ending the death penalty wherever it exists, and has written for The Guardian on the subject. During the summer of 2011, Tom spent three months with Malawi’s Legal Aid Department (supported by the Centre for Capital Punishment Studies), helping to defend people accused of capital crimes. Tom also co-foundedhelped establish a project training and supporting Malawian law students to prepare bail applications and mitigation for prisoners on death row – many of whom have spent years in pre-trial detention.

Tom was in Malawi during the widespread 2011 political protest against the government there, and worked with the Bar Human Rights Committee in legal and human rights observations there.

Tom has defended in numerous trials (and a wide range of other hearings) in the Crown Court, as well as the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts (where he has dealt with complex issues involving capacity and fair participation). He has also advised on appeals against conviction and sentence. Tom is able to draw on this criminal defence experience in other areas of his practice.

Tom has defended and advised requested persons at all stages of the extradition process, from first appearances through to final hearings and appeals in the High Court, in cases involving a wide range of human rights and public law issues.

Tom is a Trustee at Hackney Community Law Centre.

He was a legal adviser at Toynbee Hall’s Free Legal Advice Centre in London’s East End for a number of years, giving free legal advice regarding police complaints, claims before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and other social welfare law. Between 2009-10 Tom was a residential volunteer, living at the Toynbee Hall settlement and working in free legal advice and services for young people, for which he was Highly Commended in the Attorney-General’s Pro Bono Awards 2010.

Tom is an active member of the Police Action Lawyers Group, and has acted pro bono for Bail for Immigration Detainees.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Tom worked for a number of years as a political adviser and speechwriter in Westminster for ministers in the last Labour government, and on the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign. Tom has also worked as a volunteer caseworker at the Free Representation Unit, and as a volunteer researcher and writer at The Guardian newspaper’s Law section.

In addition to lecturing at Goldsmiths College and University College London, Tom has provided training on coronial law, actions against state authorities and other civil liberties issues for INQUEST, Legal Action Group and the training provider MBL.