Highly Ranked and Acclaimed Silk
Michael specialises in serious crime, fraud and asset recovery – he has done so for approximately 25 years. In addition to his Crown Court/Court of Appeal practice Michael has a strong reputation in the fields of police disciplinary work, regulatory work and the representation of private clients. Clients, both lay and professional, consistently comment upon Michael’s down to earth approach and his engaging manner. Michael has a fair, but firm relaxed approach with clients and their relatives, honestly advising on likely or possible outcomes, steering and supporting them through a difficult time in their lives. Michael treats all clients as individuals and his considerable experience ensures that each achieves the best possible outcome. Michael both defends and prosecutes. For the fourth year running Michael has been recognised as one of the best criminal silks in the Midlands being only one of five criminal QCs to be given Band 1 ranking by Chambers and Partners UK guide in 2020. Michael has also been ranked Tier 1 - Criminal Silks in the Legal 500 for the fourth year running.
Recent Work and Instructions
Recent instructions include: - R v Innis et al (August /Sept2019) - 3 handed knife murder and robbery of two young victims - complex CCTV and cell site investigation, R v Bradbury (Sept 2019) - causing death by dangerous driving of a young doctor. Company also prosecuted for the unsafe condition of the vehicle, R v Rothero et al (Oct - Nov 2019) - 8 handed conspiracy to rob both commercial and residential premises (firearms and knives), R v Moore et al (Nov - Dec 2019) - 10 handed conspiracy to possess firearms and large scale supply of drugs and R v Shaw (April - June 2020) - representing a financial adviser accused of involvement in a “Ponzi” type financial services scheme
High Profile Cases
Michael has appeared in a number of the country’s most well-known cases during his career including the re-trial of Sara Thornton (1996) the case established the legal existence of “ battered woman’s syndrome” , the prosecution of RV Latus (2002/2003),the appeal of Jeremy Bamber,( 2002) convicted of the murder of five family members (the appeal was the largest single appellant appeal to be heard in the UK at the time), the prosecution of Burger Bar members for the killing of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare – the so called New Year’s Eve Shootings (2004/2005), the representation of one of the M40 Bikers, the representation of men alleged to have been involved in murders during the Birmingham riots in both 2007 and 2011, in R V Reynolds (2013 )Michael was involved in defending a 22 year old man charged with the planned murder of a serving police officer’s 17 year old daughter) , in R v Harry Street (2015) the prosecution of a 71 year old man for possessing bomb making equipment and firearms (having been convicted of five counts of homicide with firearms in 1978) . RV Hagan (2015) Involved representation of a security officer at Ashworth Hospital accused of selling photographs of serial killer Ian Brady ( Moors Murderer) to the News of The World as part of Operation Elvedon , and more recently in RV Bramhall (2017) defending a world renowned liver surgeon being prosecuted for the assault of two of his patients by marking his initials on their transplanted livers( the case attracted international publicity) , R V Rhandawa (2017) representation of a student who was alleged to have plotted the deaths of his parents by importing an improvised explosive device and in R V Dhaliwahl ( Jan – March 2018) the only Queen’s Counsel in the first of three trials ,representing a client accused of being the head of a large scale “grooming”‘/trafficking gang in Huddersfield -reporting restrictions were imposed throughout all three trials and were lifted on 19Oct 2018. Many of these cases continue to attract significant media interest. (Please see notable cases for more details.)
Michael has also developed a reputation as an expert in cases involving young and/or vulnerable witnesses. He has a courtroom manner which allows him to adduce evidence from vulnerable witnesses in an effective but non-confrontational manner. He has attended the Vulnerable Witness training course. Michael is experienced in cases involving large scale people trafficking. In 2010 he was the defence junior for the man accused of being the “right hand man” in the largest people trafficking trial ever undertaken by the East Midlands Complex Casework Unit. (R V Singh- see notable cases.) In 2018 he represented an individual described as the “ringleader “of a large-scale grooming and trafficking ring. The investigation involved 20 defendants, Michael was responsible for the cross examination as to credit of all 13 of the vulnerable witnesses on behalf of all 8 defendants during the first trial of those alleged to have been most seriously involved. A number of these vulnerable witnesses required an initial Ground Rules hearing and/or the services of an intermediary.
Medical and psychiatric cases
Michael has demonstrated an expertise in cases involving complex medical and/or psychiatric issues with vulnerable defendants or witnesses. Leading counsel for the defendant (R V Westwood -2018) charged with murder following the stabbing of his mother. involving complex issues of diminished responsibility, the matter was resolved by a guilty plea to manslaughter. Leading defence counsel in R V Johnson (2018) a man charged with the manslaughter of his elderly neighbour by committing the unlawful act of knocking on his window. The prosecution alleged that the deceased’s death was caused by the stress of the original incident involving detailed medical causation arguments from witnesses. In RV Williams (J) (2017) Michael represented a man jointly accused of the murder of his former partner. The original trial had to be adjourned because significant psychiatric issues were identified but disputed by the crown, in the case of R v Mann (2012) representing a man accused of murdering his partner the evidence of the defendant’s diminished responsibility was addressed by a total of four forensic psychiatrists. Michael was responsible for conducting a number of conferences with the expert witnesses and presenting the complex arguments which arose. Michael represented the man (R V Ward 2013) accused of the murder of two “Big Issue” sellers in Birmingham city centre. The prosecution originally indicted the defendant with two counts of murder but were persuaded to accept pleas to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. In the case of R v Street (October 2014) the court required assistance with a detailed analysis of the provisions of MHA over the last 50 years. The defendant had been released from an hospital order fifteen years after committing the homicide of 5 entirely innocent individuals.
Modern criminal litigation expertise
Michael recognised the growing importance of the use of technology within the courtroom and its significance in the investigation of serious crime at a very early stage. He has developed his technological expertise over the course of many years and is now recognised as a leader in the field. Michael has demonstrated a particular expertise in the analysis and presentation of complex telephone and cell site evidence. Recent work includes defence of a man (RV Robinson 2018) charged with murder following a drive by shooting involving detailed cell site evidence. In 2016 he prosecuted a series of trials which involved extremely detailed attribution of large numbers of telephones which resulted in the convictions of senior gang members. During the prosecution of gang members for the New Year’s Day shooting of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare Michael took exclusive responsibility for the presentation of the telephone evidence which proved to be instrumental in securing convictions. In the trial of eight men charged with the running down of three men during the Birmingham riots of August 2011, Michael took the lead role in challenging the telephone evidence on behalf of all defendants – the prosecution “evidence” was demonstrated to be wholly unreliable and its disintegration contributed significantly to the acquittal of all defendants The use of mobile telephones and internet communication continues to present challenges during any serious criminal investigation – Michael has shown the ability to present the most complex technical evidence in a manner which juries understand.
Serious Gang Crime and Young Offenders
Michael specialises in cases involving serious gang crime and has done for over 25years.Gang related crime is increasingly involving young offenders as is constantly highlighted in the national media on an almost daily basis. Recent cases include; lead prosecution of a young offender (17) and another jointly charged with murder of a 16 year old stabbed outside Sutton Coldfield McDonalds, both were convicted (R v Ingram and Hussain - Nov 18), representation of a teenager who denied murder of a taxi driver but pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge( R v Osman -November 2018,)representation of a young offender who was jointly accused of stabbing a man to death in a fight along with four others (R v W April- June 2019).
Multi Handed Drugs Supply Conspiracies
Michael has been instructed in large scale drugs supply conspiracies for over two decades. Cases include Operations Clean and Pine-needle (2009), Operations Sniper and Variation (2010) all involving multiple gang related defendants supplying class A drugs. In 2013 Michael was the leading counsel for the prosecution of Operation Grey (multi-handed, multi-million drugs importation), R V Dodd and others (multi-handed (29 defendants) – largest ever prosecuted in Shropshire) and Operation Sift 1(multi-handed (40 defendants), nationwide supply of class A drugs). More recent instructions include Operations Exit, Predominately and Fry. The latter involving multi- teenage gang members in conspiracy to supply drugs.
Michael regularly receives private instructions. Clients have recognised the potential advantages of instructing counsel on a private basis for a variety of offences. Michael has great depth and breadth of experience in the area of serious crime both defending and prosecuting (he has been a grade four prosecutor for over 25 years) and has successfully represented privately funded clients accused of fraud, sexual offences, assault, serious allegations of violence and serious driving matters, both nationally and internationally.
Invited as a guest speaker at a side event at The International Trademark Association Conference in Barcelona in May 2017 advising on the viability of private prosecutions in the line of attack against counterfeiters, to an audience of the world’s leading brands. Attended by invitation “An Introduction to the International Criminal Court Bar Association- The New Voice for the Legal Profession.” by invitation in The Hague (November 2016). Michael has recognised the growing influence of cybercrime and is regarded as an expert in the field both nationally and internationally and was invited to speak at the International Adriatic Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia September 2015. (Crime Day) on the topic “How organised is Cybercrime?” Instructed in a major international case for a foreign oil company which had significant worldwide implications for the industry concerned (November 2014). Michael was a guest speaker on the Hi-Tech business panel at the Turkish and British Chamber of Commerce and Industry seminar in Istanbul in September 2014 - he was one of the six expert panellists who provided the audience with guidance upon the implications of technology for businesses in both jurisdictions and internationally. Michael was invited to provide expertise upon the risks of criminal security breaches and international cybercrime. Speaker at Birmingham Law Society Seminar on ‘Eliminating the risk of doing business abroad’ (March 2014). Called to the Bar in the Cayman Islands in October 2013 and July/November 2015. On those occasions he successfully represented two men accused of murder (R v Hurlston -Nov 2013); (R v Manderson -July 2013) and a senior insurance executive accused of fraud Appeal of Myles -Nov 2015). -In the week preceding the 2013 trial Michael was a guest speaker at the 9th Annual Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Crime, Compliance and Regulation Seminar at the Marriott Hotel in Grand Cayman. Michael presented a lecture to an international audience on the prosecution of organized crime and importance of the associated compliance and anti-money laundering legislation. Michael receives regular instructions to advise clients from the Caribbean upon their prospects of successfully appealing against their sentence, including a “life lifer” whose case is currently before the ECHR. Advised large UK based University upon training of advocates in the Far East. Chairman of the International Committee of the Criminal Bar Association (2013-2017) Michael was a delegate at the World Bar Conference in London in May 2012 and maintains links with lawyers around the world.
Excellent Track Record
Michael has an excellent track record in both achieving successful murder prosecutions :- body in the flat murder (R v Barnes – Jan 2019), murder of a homeless man by beating and kicking (R v Goetske, Padewski and Olczyk - Feb 2019), and in securing defence acquittals including:- a man accused of a multi- handed drive -by shooting murder in Nottingham (R v Gray -August 2019) two co-defendants were convicted of murder; a man accused of the manslaughter of an elderly neighbour (R v Johnson - Aug 2018), a man accused of fatal petrol station stabbing in Coventry (R v Vastaki - Barsby - Dec 2017), in the Shepherds Bush murder trial (R v Yousef Mohamud - Aug 2017) and of an accountant accused of a large scale GBP 5 million HMRC gateway/tax website fraud (Sept - Nov 2017).
“Michael Duck KC prosecutes and defends difficult cases. He is a calm and experienced advocate.”
Chambers UK 2023
“Michael is approachable and communicates well with the clients. He has an excellent grasp of tactics that he deploys effectively. He is an excellent advocate.”
Legal 500 2023
“A top-class silk able to assimilate and present complicated cases effortlessly and with great impact.”
Legal 500 2022
Ranked Band 1 in Crime.
Chambers UK 2022
“A brilliant jury advocate. He is good at working out a strategy when faced with complex forensic evidence.”
Chambers UK 2021
“A very able silk who gets good results, particularly in POCA matters.”
Legal 500 2021
“A reliable and effective barrister.”
Chambers UK 2020
“Bright, personable, and very experienced in POCA proceedings.”
Legal 500 2020
2019 R v Gray
Defence of a young man accused of murder in a multi- handed drive by gang related shooting. The defendant was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter. Two of the co-defendants were convicted of the murder.
2019 R V Barnes
Prosecution of a man charged with murder of a man whom he had befriended. He left the body in the victim’s flat which remained undiscovered for a matter of days. The defendant was convicted.
2018 R V Hussain and Ingram
Leading prosecution counsel of a young offender ( 17 years ) and a man (21 years) jointly charged with a revenge stabbing murder of a 16 year old boy outside McDonalds in Sutton Coldfield in broad daylight. Both were convicted.
2018 R V Emmerson
Prosecution of a man accused of dragging a man alongside his vehicle at speeds of up to 30mph. Detailed CCTV evidence and significant bad character arguments. Defendant convicted of murder
2018 R v Johnson
Defence of a man charged with the manslaughter of his elderly neighbour by committing the unlawful act of knocking on his window. The prosecution alleged that the deceased’s death was caused by the stress of the initial incident. Detailed medical causation arguments from expert witnesses. Defendant was acquitted
2018 R v Kayne Robinson
Instructed as leading defence counsel for a man charged with murder following a drive-by -shooting along with four other men. The case had a history of gang related violence and was a retaliation shooting, Bad character arguments and detailed cell site evidence
2018 R V Dhaliwal
Representation of the man described as the ringleader by the prosecution. The investigation involved 20 defendants and culminated in three trials running from January 2018 until October 2018. Responsible for the cross examination as to credit of all the vulnerable witnesses on behalf of all 8 defendants during the initial trial of those alleged to have been most seriously involved. There were approximately 13 vulnerable witnesses, a number of whom required an initial Ground Rules Hearing and/or the services of an intermediary. The disclosure process conducted on behalf of the defence took place over many months. Reporting restrictions were imposed throughout the trial sand lifted on 19th October 2018. Given leave to appeal conviction in January 2019. The Court of Appeal has requested I represent 7 out of the 8 appellants from the original trial at the appeal hearing later in 2019.
2017 R v Bramhall
High profile case of a world- renowned liver surgeon who was prosecuted for the assault of two of his patients by marking his initials on their transplanted livers. The case attracted international publicity
2017 R v Vastaki- Barsby
Leading counsel in the representation of a man accused of murder/manslaughter along with two others. After a trial that involved extensive CCTV analysis the defendant was acuitted of murder, manslaughter and possession of an offensive weapon. One co-defendant was convicted
2017/2016 R v Hough
Leading counsel in the representation of an accountant accused of taking part in a GBP 5 million conspiracy to defraud which is alleged to have involved imitating Government “provision of service” websites (a three month trial was due in in September 2016 but adjourned until September 2017). The defendant was acquitted of all charges.
2017 R V Mohamud
Leading counsel for the first defendant in a four handed murder trial. The defendant was the alleged gunman in a joint enterprise robbery and subsequent shooting from close range. The defendant was acquitted of murder and robbery. It was a case that involved complex hearsay arguments and bad character applications
2016 Operation Fry
Leading counsel instructed in the multi-handed prosecution of teenage gang members involved in the supply of class A drugs using firearms to enforce their will. There were complex issues around disclosure and involvement was from the pre-charge phase.
2016 R v Jones(M)
Representation of a man accused of involvement in a joint enterprise shooting. Legal arguments re joint enterprise and bad character. The defendant was acquitted of murder and further charges whilst his co- defendants were convicted.
2015 /2016 Operation Navigator/Staunch
Leading counsel for the prosecution in the prosecution of a target criminal accused of two separate conspiracies to murder. Detailed legal arguments in respect of disclosure, joinder, representation.
2014 R v Street
The court required assistance with a detailed analysis of the provisions of MHA over the last 50 years. The defendant had been released from a hospital order fifteen years after committing the homicide of 5 entirely innocent individuals.
2013/4 - R v Foster
Leading counsel for the defendant accused of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to defraud. The prosecution alleged that he had dishonestly run a hot tub supply company and defrauded customers of approximately GBP 3 million as a result of non-delivery of goods. The case involved complex bad character and disclosure matters
2013 - R v Reynolds
Leading Counsel for the defendant. A 23 year old man accused of the abduction and murder of a 17 year old daughter of a serving police officer and abandoning her body in North Wales (the case attracted national publicity)
2013 - R v Dodd and others
Leading counsel for the prosecution. The largest drugs conspiracy in Shropshire involving 29 defendants dealing in large amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Complex POCA proceedings.
2013 - R v Ward
Leading defence counsel representing a man accused of stabbing to death two “Big Issue” sellers at peak commuter time in Birmingham City Centre. There was significant national and local publicity
2013 - R v Aslam – Operation Grey
Multi handed drugs importation Leading counsel for the prosecution in a multi-million pound drugs conspiracy due to last up to three months and involve multiple defendants. Complex technological evidence, financial evidence and disclosure issues arouse.
2012 - R v Ruiz- Gaviria
Leading counsel for one the defendants charged with three “running down” murders arising from the riots in Birmingham in Summer 2011. The prosecution alleged a multi-handed “joint enterprise”. Numerous arguments involving encouragement/participation and disclosure arose at the trial. The trial lasted for 13 weeks resulting in the acquittal of all defendants. The case attracted significant national publicity
2010 - R v Singh – people trafficking
Defence junior counsel for a man accused of being the “right hand man” in a multi-handed people trafficking allegation in a trial lasting 3 months. It was the largest criminal trial undertaken by East Midlands Complex Casework Unit.
2008 - R v Carty – shooting by gang member
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of a leading member of a notorious local gang –“the Johnson Crew”. The defendant was convicted of the attempted murder of an innocent student during a social event at Loughborough University. The defendant had utilised a firearm.
2008 - R v Stephenson - gang murder
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a leading member of the violent “Burger Bar Crew” for the murder and attempted murders of opposition gang members.
2008 - R v Garside et al (Operation Bangkok)
“M40 Bikers case” Defence junior counsel
Defence junior counsel representing one of the defendants in the “M40 Biker’s” murder trial. The prosecution alleged that the defendants were all members of a bike gang’s chapter and had conspired to kill an opposing gang’s member. The trial attracted international publicity
2007 - R v Waqar Ahmed – murder during the 2007 Birmingham riots Defence junior counsel
Defence junior counsel representing one of the men accused of the racially motivated murder of a male during riots in inner city Birmingham. The defendant was initially convicted but the conviction was successfully appealed as a result of significant non-disclosure by the prosecution. The defendant was acquitted at the re-trial.
2004 - R v Martin et al (Operation Stansted) – New Year’s Day shooting of Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis Prosecution junior counsel.
The case involved the prosecution of local gang members for the murder of two innocent girls, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, at an “after party”. The murders arose as a result of a long running dispute between Birmingham’s two largest gangs. The case involved international publicity. The convictions were achieved by relying on pseudonym witnesses, telephone cell site analysis. The preparation for trial involved the assessing upwards of 250,000 documents for disclosure purposes. The convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeal and the matter awaits a listing in the European Court of Human Rights
2002 - In the appeal of Jeremy Bamber
Junior defence counsel at the appeal of Jeremy Bamber. The appellant had been convicted of the murder of his mother, father, sister and nephews in their own home. The appeal was the largest single appellant appeal to be heard in the UK at the time. The case still attracts significant media interest
2002 /2003 RV Latus.
prosecution junior in both trials. Securing the conviction of Latus in 2003 following the murder of Julian Sanders in 2000. In 2002 trial Latus had admitted the manslaughter of his Landlord John Folkes and was convicted of the attempted murder of his mother.
1996 - R v Sara Thornton
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a female for the murder of her allegedly violent husband. The case established the legal existence of “battered woman’s syndrome” when considering provocation in domestic murder/manslaughter cases. The case attracted international press attention.
- Leader of The Midland Circuit. (2017- 2020)
- Master of the Bench Gray’s Inn 2015- current
- Recorder on the Northern Circuit 2015- current
- Serious Fraud Office Queen’s Counsel Panel 2013- 2017
- Chairman of The International Committee of the Criminal Bar Association August 2013- Jan 2017.
- Previous Member of the executive Committee of the Criminal Bar Association (Co-opted)
- Birmingham Law Society “Barrister of the Year”- Finalist 2016.
- Shortlisted for “Regional Silk of the Year” in Legal 500 2015/16 awards.
- Chief Super-intendant’s Commendation Award for Operation Grey ( R v Aslam and others 2013- largescale, multi-handed, multi-million drug supply conspiracy).
- Chief Super-intendant’s Commendation Award for Operations Clean and Pine Needle.
- Chief Super- intendant’s Commendation Award for Operation Stanstead (R v Martin and others 2004 – The New Year’s Day Revenge gang shootings.)
- Gray’s Inn
- Criminal Bar Association
- Midlands Fraud Forum
- Midland Circuit