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Background

Stuart Withers

Call: 2013

Stuart Withers specialises in public law including: prison law, civil liberties and human rights, inquests, court of protection and education law.

Expertise

Public Law

Stuart is a public law specialist. He accepts instructions in prison law, public law, inquests, actions against the police and prisons, education law and Court of Protection matters.

Stuart has a broad public law practice specialising in challenges to decisions made within the criminal justice system. His practice encompasses administrative, human rights, and equality law.

Stuart’s particular area of expertise is in claims for judicial review against the Parole Board and to decisions made by the Prison Service. He also advises on challenges to decisions made by the police.

Stuart is an expert in LGBT+ law as it applies in the prison estate and has been published widely in the area.
He has appeared in several recent important prison law judgments including:

  • R (Bruton) v Parole Board [2022] EWHC 1692 (Admin). A challenge to a decision of the Parole Board which had refused to accept an in-time application for reconsideration.
  • R (Audi Johnson) v Parole Board [2022] 1 W.L.R. 2489 The Parole Board was held to be functus when it fixed the future release date for a determinate prisoner under s.256 Criminal Justice Act 2003. The associated civil claim for false imprisonment settled.
  • R (Austin) v Parole Board [2022] 1 WLR 2489 led by Jude Bunting KC. The protocol for summaries for noteworthy prisoners was declared ultra vires and procedurally unfair.
  • R (Bousfield) v Parole Board [2021] EWHC 3160 (Admin) led by Ian Brownhill. The Court quashed a decision of the Parole Board on the grounds of illegality and procedural unfairness. Stuart acted for the Claimant throughout his parole proceedings. Stuart’s initial arguments raised in the reconsideration application were accepted by the High Court.
  • R (FDJ) v Secretary of State for Justice [2021] 1 W.L.R. 5265. Stuart acted for the intervener, Dr Lamble, in an important claim regarding the use of the single sex exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 and the use of statistics in relation to transgender prisoners.
  • R (Gifford-Hull) v Parole Board [2021] EWHC 128 (Admin). A claim concerning solicitor’s duties in relation to withheld material, and the status of victim personal statements. The Court quashed the Parole Board’s decision as procedurally unfair.
  • R (Lawrence) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 3774 (Admin). A successful challenge to the Parole Board’s refusal to grant an oral hearing.
  • R (Grinham) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 2140 (Admin). A key decision which summarises the requirements of procedural fairness as they apply to Parole Board proceedings.
  • R (Fuller) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 62 (Admin). A successful irrationality challenge to a decision of the Parole Board which failed to refer to key evidence supporting the Claimant’s application for release.

Prior to coming to the Bar Stuart gained extensive expertise in human rights, discrimination and privacy law whilst working as an Advice and Information Officer at Liberty. He gained experience of prison law whilst working as a paralegal at two leading prison law and human rights firms in London.

Cases Stuart assisted on included:

  • R (The Howard League and Prisoners’ Advice Service) v Lord Chancellor [2017] EWCA Civ 244. A successful systemic challenge to the legal aid cuts in prison law.
  • Hutchinson v the United Kingdom (Application no. 57592/08). An intervention before the Grand Chamber on whether whole life tariffs were compatible with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • R (Youngsam) v Parole Board [2017] EWHC 729 (Admin). A challenge against the Parole Board concerning whether Article 5 applied to recalled determinate sentenced prisoners.
  • Tara Hudson: a challenge to the Ministry of Justice’s policy on allocating transgender prisoners which resulted in a wholescale change in the policy.

Prison & Police Law

Stuart is a prison law specialist. He regularly advises on all aspects of prison law. He is the author of two guides for the Prisoners’ Advice Service on the rights of LGBT+ prisoners. He regularly appears before the Parole Board in complex cases concerning lifers and TACT prisoners. He has significant experience of representing recalled prisoners where an allegation of further offending has been made, often involving cross-examining police officers. He has been instructed by the Official Solicitor to represent prisoners who lack capacity to participate in their parole hearings. Due to Stuart’s Court of Protection practice he can also advise on issues of treatment for prisoners who lack capacity.

Civil Liberties & Human Rights

Stuart is regularly instructed in civil claims against the police and the prison service. He is instructed to advise on claims concerning false imprisonment, assault/battery, malicious prosecution, claims under the Equality Act 2010, claims under the Human Rights Act 1998. and under the Data Protection Act 2018. He has significant expertise in civil claims against the Parole Board.

Recent successful cases include:

  • A claim against the police for breach of their special diligence duty under article 5 based on
    Zenati.
  • Several claims against the prison service for negligence and breach of article 3 for prisoner- on-prisoner assaults.
  • Securing damages for unlawfully strip-searched prisoners in both the male and female prison estate.
  • Article 3 claims against the police and prison service for failing to investigate allegations of serious criminal conduct.
  • Damages claims for breach of article 2 and related inquest proceedings.
  • Several claims for religious discrimination and indirect discrimination relating to Muslim prisoners being not allowed to wear their Toppi.
  • A claim for direct discrimination, and a failure to make reasonable adjustments for a blind prisoners.
  • Several claims for damages against the Parole Board for article 5(4) delays. A claim regarding the negligent healthcare a transgender prisoner received.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Stuart gained extensive expertise in human rights, discrimination and privacy law whilst working as an Advice and Information Officer at Liberty. He gained significant experience of actions against the police and prison law whilst working as a paralegal at two leading human rights firms in London.

Education

Stuart frequently appears in the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) in appeals against Educational, Health and Care Plans both for parents and local authorities. His expertise covers section B, F and I and extended appeals for heath and social care provision.

Notable Public Law Cases


R (Wylie) v Parole Board [2024] EWHC 52 (Admin)

A Parole Board decision to not grant an oral hearing was quashed as procedurally unfair.


Grantham v Parole Board

A claim for breach of article 5(4) which concerned whether the Parole Board was liable for damages for the period in which it was functus officio. The claim settled.


R (Dich and Murphy) v Parole Board [2023] 1 WLR 4287

he Parole Board’s guidance in relation to the public protection test as it applies to extended and determinate sentenced prisoners was declared as unlawful. The Court ordered an oral hearing in Mr Murphy’s case.


R (Matthews) v Parole Board [2023] EWHC 694 (Admin)

A decision of the Parole Board was quashed as it failed to apply the statutory directions relating to open conditions and was procedurally unfair.


R (Bruton) v Parole Board [2022] EWHC 1692 (Admin)

A challenge to a decision of the Parole Board which had refused to accept an in-time application for reconsideration.


R (Audi Johnson) v Parole Board [2022] A.C.D. 86

The Parole Board was held to be functus when it fixed the future release date for a determinate prisoner under s.256 Criminal Justice Act 2003. The associated civil claim for false imprisonment settled.


R (Austin) v Parole Board [2022] 1 WLR 2489 led by Jude Bunting KC

The protocol for summaries for noteworthy prisoners was declared ultra vires and procedurally unfair.


R (Bousfield) v Parole Board [2021] EWHC 3160 (Admin) led by Ian Brownhill

The Court quashed a decision of the Parole Board on the grounds of illegality and procedural unfairness. Stuart acted for the Claimant throughout his parole proceedings. Stuart’s initial arguments raised in the reconsideration application were accepted by the High Court.


R (FDJ) v Secretary of State for Justice [2021] 1 W.L.R. 5265

Stuart acted for the intervener, Dr Lamble, in an important claim regarding the use of the single sex exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 and the use of statistics in relation to transgender prisoners.


R (Gifford-Hull) v Parole Board [2021] EWHC 128 (Admin)

A claim concerning solicitor’s duties in relation to withheld material, and the status of victim personal statements. The Court quashed the Parole Board’s decision as procedurally unfair.


R (Lawrence) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 3774 (Admin)

A successful challenge to the Parole Board’s refusal to grant an oral hearing.


R (Grinham) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 2140 (Admin)

A key decision which summarises the requirements of procedural fairness as they apply to Parole Board proceedings. The Court quashed the Parole Board’s decision as procedurally unfair.


R (Fuller) v Parole Board [2020] EWHC 62 (Admin)

A successful irrationality challenge to a decision of the Parole Board which failed to refer to key evidence supporting the Claimant’s application for release.


AP v Buckinghamshire County Council

A two day hearing regarding sections B, F, and I, against leading counsel. There was a significant dispute about whether the provision identified was educational or related to social care.


AP v Essex County Council

Successfully defended the local authority’s decision to not name a selective grammar school on the grounds that it would not be suitable for the young person’s ability.


Court of Protection

Stuart has a broad Court of Protection Practice encompassing both health and welfare and property and affairs. He has been instructed by the Official Solicitor, ICBs, local authorities and family members in relation to s.16 and s.21A challenges. He is instructed in damages claims arising out unlawful deprivations of liberty.

Notable Court of Protection Cases


VT v NHS Cambridgeshire And Peterborough Integrated Care Board & Anor [2024] EWHC 294.

Stuart acted for the Local Authority. The Court provided guidance as to when it is appropriate to summarily dispose of proceedings.


Re AB

acted for a local authority in a two day final hearing in a s.16 application.


Re VP

acted for P instructed by the OS and successfully obtained an order for P to return home for a trial period.


Re CD

acted for the OPG in a two day hearing and successfully called in a security bond.


Inquests, Public Inquiries & Coronial Law

Stuart has extensive experience of acting in inquests. He regularly appears for family members and other interested parties.. He has a particular specialism of representing the families of those who have died in prison, or as the result of probation failures. He has appeared in Coroner alone inquests and multiple jury inquests.

Prior to coming to the Bar, Stuart assisted on the inquest into the death of Amy El-Keira where a jury returned a verdict of neglect due to the level of care she received at the Priory. The Priory Group were later prosecuted and received a £300,000 fine.

Notable Inquests, Public Inquiries & Coronial Law Cases


KC

Article 2 inquest into the death of a voluntary patient in a mental health ward. The Coroner found there were several failures KC’s care, and that leadership and supervision of the hospital were inadequate.


JS

Article 2 inquest into the death of a woman killed by a life sentenced prisoner on licence. The Coroner held that there were multiple missed opportunities by the probation service which contributed to JS’ death.


RF

Article 2 inquest into the death of man in custody. The jury concluded on the balance of probabilities that the care RF received in custody possibly contributed to his death.


TB

Stuart acted for the family in a four-day inquest into the death of a man who suffered from both mental health problems and polysubstance misuse. The Coroner was critical of the care that TB received and a prevention of future death report was issued.



Stuart has also acted in over a dozen inquests on behalf of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust where the deceased had some contact with mental health services.


Related News, Resources and Events

News


Prison Law Seminar Series Two – Advocacy before the Parole Board

Yesterday, we held the second of our Prison Law Seminars from our London office alongside speakers from SL5 Legal. There is still time to register…

Past Events


Prison Law Seminar Series Three – Challenging Parole Board decisions

The third and final seminar will focus on challenging Parole Board decisions. It will comprehensively cover the latest developments in this area and provide an…

View all related news

  • Harmsworth Scholar of the Middle Temple
  • Law (LLB, hons), Queen Mary, University of London
  • MA Res ‘Covert surveillance of legal professional privilege’, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Bar Professional Training Course, Kaplan Law School

Related News, Resources and Events

News


Prison Law Seminar Series Two – Advocacy before the Parole Board

Yesterday, we held the second of our Prison Law Seminars from our London office alongside speakers from SL5 Legal. There is still time to register…

Past Events


Prison Law Seminar Series Three – Challenging Parole Board decisions

The third and final seminar will focus on challenging Parole Board decisions. It will comprehensively cover the latest developments in this area and provide an…

View all related news

Clerk Team

Abdul Hafeez

Practice Director, Immigration & Public Law

abdulh@no5.com

07957 403805

Lucas Bennett

Practice Manager, Immigration & Public Law

lucasb@no5.com

Jordan Lloyd

Immigration & Public Law Clerk

jordanl@no5.com

Emily Johnston

Immigration & Public Law Clerk

emilyj@no5.com

Isabella Taylor

Immigration & Public Law Clerk

isabellat@no5.com

Hannah Muxlow

Immigration & Public Law Clerk

hannahm@no5.com

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