Viewing: Crime for Michael Duck QC

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 field of police disciplinary 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 both defends and prosecutes.
Private Crime
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 successfully represented privately funded clients accused of fraud, sexual offences, assault, serious allegations of violence and serious driving matters, both nationally and internationally.
Highly Ranked and Acclaimed Silk
For the second year running Michael has been recognised as one of the best criminal silks in the Midlands, being only one of four criminal QCs to be given Band 1 ranking by Chambers and Partners UK guide in 2018. Michael has also been ranked Tier 1 - Criminal Silks in the Legal 500 for the second year running.
Private Prosecutions
Michael’s extensive, career-long experience of prosecuting cases at all levels, (he has been a grade 4 prosecutor for nearly 25 years), has been recognised as a useful tool in the private prosecution of counterfeiters in the field of Intellectual Property. Michael was 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 worlds leading brands.
Professional Award Nominations And Shortlists
He was shortlisted for Legal 500’s Regional Silk of the Year 2015 and was a finalist at the Birmingham Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year” awards 2016.
Serious Fraud
Serious Fraud Office - Michael was appointed to the Serious Fraud Office’s specialist panel of independent counsel authorised to prosecute on its behalf (April 2013). The appointment reflects Michael’s expertise in the field of fraud and complex crime. The list of those appointed to the specialist panel demonstrates the Serious Fraud Office’s commitment to working with the country’s top QCs in the prosecution of the most serious and complex crime. The SFO only appointed 64 QCs nationally. Michael’s inclusion recognises his successful involvement in the litigation of high profile, multiple defendant trials over a number of years.
Michael is a member of the Midlands Fraud Forum.
Fraud Investigations
Michael’s ability to consider vast volumes of paperwork and assess that which is relevant to the client’s case has served him particularly well in large scale fraud investigations and other matters which have generated substantial unused, but potentially relevant material. Michael successfully defended an accountant accused of a large scale fraud (see R v Hough 2017 below) which involved allegations of conspirators mimicking official government websites in respect of tax, driving licence renewal etc - the case attracted widespread national press coverage. The accountant was acquitted of all charges against him.
Michael defended a business man accused of a multi-million pound fraud upon his business customers - the allegations involved business deals conducted out of the jurisdiction. The case required a detailed analysis of the conduct of the business over a number of years and an examination of the relevance of previous proceedings brought against a former company.
Private Instructions
Financial Investigations and Proceeds of Crime. The “heavyweight” work with which Michael is involved generates complex financial investigations both during the trial process and post conviction. Michael has developed a reputation for his astute analysis of POCA litigation and is regularly instructed to conduct complex financial investigations for both the prosecution and the defence.
Prosecution and proceeds of crime
The financial consequences for defendants in serious criminal cases can be devastating and many instruct Michael because of his vast experience in this area to represent them privately.
Michael has been involved in the prosecution of a number of large scale drugs conspiracies with the consequent POCA hearings - on numerous occasions the POCA proceedings have applied to 20+ defendants. He was required to produce responses to each application and/or negotiate settlements where necessary.
High Profile Cases
Michael has appeared in a number of the country’s most well known cases during his career including the appeal of Jeremy Bamber, the prosecution of Burger Bar members for the killing of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, the representation of one of the M40 Bikers, and the representation of men alleged to have been involved in murders during the Birmingham riots in both 2007 and 2011, R v Jamie Reynolds (defending a 22 year old man charged with the planned murder of a serving police officer’s 17 year old daughter) and R v Harry Street (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) - (see notable cases below).
International Crime
- Michael attended “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. He was instructed in a major international case for a foreign company which has significant worldwide implications for the industry concerned (November 2014).
- Michael was invited to speak at the International Adriatic Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia September 2015. (Crime Day) – on the topic “How organised is Cybercrime?”
- 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.
- Michael was called to the Bar in the Cayman Islands in October 2013 and July/November 2015. On those occasions he represented two men accused of murder and senior insurance executive accused of fraud.
- 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.
Advised large UK based University upon training of advocates in the Far East.
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.
Michael was a delegate at the World Bar Conference in London in May 2012 and maintains links with lawyers around the world.
Speaker at Birmingham Law Society Seminar on “Eliminating the risk of doing business abroad” (March 2014)
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. 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 abovementioned 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.
Medical and Psychiatric Cases
Michael has demonstrated an expertise in cases involving complex psychiatric and medical issues with vulnerable defendants or witnesses. See the case of R v Williams (J) 2016/2017 (see below.) In the case of R v Mann (see below) 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.
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 a hospital order fifteen years after committing the homicide of 5 entirely innocent individuals.
Michael represented a man accused of the murder of two “Big Issue” sellers in Birmingham city centre in October 2013. 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 (R v Ward see below).
Vulnerable Witnesses
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.
Michael is currently defending a man who is first on the indictment of multiple defendants accused of historic human trafficking , grooming and sexual abuse. He is the only silk on the case -responsible for questioning all vulnerable witnesses on behalf of all defendants following the historic Bradford case. The three month trial is covered by strict reporting restrictions and is set to 1st until the end of March 2018.
Recommendations
“Very analytical, hard-working and fights his corner well.” “He is very down to earth and approachable.”
Chambers UK 2019
“A very user-friendly silk.”
Legal 500 2019
His “advocacy is beautiful in it’s brevity”. “He has a deceptively straightforward type of advocacy. Paperwork is another strength.”
Chambers UK 2018
“First Class practitioner” with “noted expertise in fraud and organised crime and a strong track record in high profile cases.”
Legal 500, 2017
“He’s a very keen prosecutor and he’s excellent at defence too.” “He is one of the best silks in the Midlands. He is hard-working, jury-friendly and he attracts the immediate trust of the most demanding of defendants – a genuine pleasure to work with.”
Chambers UK 2017
“Specialises in cases involving serious organised crime and fraud.”
Legal 500 2016
“A natural, with a really good jury manner.”
Chambers UK 2016
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.
Recommended, trusted and liked by clients
Notable Cases
R v Westwood
2018
Leading counsel for a defendant charged with murder following the stabbing of his mother. Complex issues of diminished responsibility. Matter resolved by guilty plea to manslaughter.
R v Kayne Robinson
2018
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.
R v Simeon Liburd
2018
Instructed as leading counsel in the prosecution of a man charged with attempted murder following a sawn-off shot gun shooting. Complex CCTV footage investigations
R v Johnson
2018
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.
R v Emmerson
2018
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
Stafford Trading Standards v Ecoseal et al
2018
Prosecution of a company and its directors for offences arising from the conduct of their home improvements company. The company was said to have targeted elderly and vulnerable customers
R v D
2018
Representation of a client accused of being the head of a “grooming” gang in the North of England. Three month trial which involved substantial legal arguments re bad character, cross admissibility. Responsible for cross-examination on credit for all 8 defendants.
R v Bramhall
2017
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.
R v Vastaki - Barsby
2017
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 acquitted of murder, manslaughter and possession of an offensive weapon. One co-defendant was convicted.
R v Randhawa
2017
Leading counsel in the representation of a student who was alleged to have plotted the deaths of his parent(s) by importing a improvised explosive device
R v Hough
2017/2016
Leading counsel in the representation of an accountant accused of taking part in a 5 million conspiracy to defraud which is alleged to have involved imitating Government “provision of service” websites (3 month trial was due in September 2016 but adjourned until September 2017). The defendant was acquitted of all charges.
R v Jones
2017
Leading counsel in the representation of a serving police officer accused of conspiring to steal class A drugs from known criminals and subsequently supplying them to others. The matter also appeared in the Court of Appeal.
R v Mohamud
2017
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 a case that involved complex hearsay arguments and bad character applications.
R v F
2017
Representation of a serving police officer accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards other officers.
R v Mansell
2017
Leading counsel in the representation of a man co-accused with seven others of conspiracy to murder. Allegations of torture over a period of time.
R v Williams (J)
2016/2017
Leading counsel in the representation of a man jointly accused of the murder of his former partner . Case was listed for trial in August 2016 but was adjourned until January 2017 because significant psychiatric issues were identified but disputed by the crown.
R v Lander
2016
Prosecution of a homeless man who was accused of murdering a friend who had offered him a place to sleep. The defendant pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial.
R v Downie
2016
Leading counsel instructed in the representation of a teenager accused of being part of a group that shot dead another teenager in a car as a result of a drugs dispute.
Operation Fry
2016
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.
Operation Predominately
2016
Leading prosecution counsel of a large scale drugs conspiracy involving twelve defendants including significant disclosure issues.
R v Jones
2016
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.
Atkar v R
2016
Private representation of an appellant before the Court of Appeal in respect of a large scale drugs conspiracy. Sentence reduced
Operation Navigator/Staunch
2015 /2016
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, etc.
Operation Jitiri
2015
Instructed to prosecute two men aged 16 and 18 charged with the murder of an entirely innocent passer-by. Significant arguments settled re bad character
Appeal in the case of Myles (Cayman Islands)
2015
Representation of a well known businessman before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal (presided over by 3 former UK Lord Justices of Appeal)
Operation Exit
2015
Leading Counsel for the Prosecution – multi-handed drugs conspiracy involving sophisticated importation of heroin from Pakistan
R v Manderson
2015
Leading Counsel representing a man charged with murder in a gang-related shooting in Grand Cayman
R v Hagan
2015
Representation of a security officer at Ashworth Hospital charged with misconduct in a public office, involved in selling photographs of serial killer Ian Brady (Moors Murderer) to The News of the World . Part of Operation Elvedon
R v Bennett
2015
Representation of an elderly man charged with the murder of his dementia suffering wife
R v Williams
2015
Representation of a local chef accused of murdering his estranged partner
Appointments
Michael was elected as Leader of the Midland Circuit in August 2017 - he began his three year tenure in October 2017.
Michael was invited to become a a Master of the Bench at Gray’s Inn in November 2017.
Awards
Leader of The Midland Circuit October 2017
Master of The Bench- Gray’s Inn 2017
Top Ranked Band 1, Criminal Silk – Midland Circuit, Leaders in their Field, Chambers and Partners UK 2017 and 2018.
Ranked “Leading Individual”; Criminal Silks Tier 1 Legal 500 Bar Directory 2016 and 2017.
Shortlisted for Regional Silk of the Year in the LEGAL 500 2015/6 awards.
Finalist at the Birmingham Law Society Barrister of the Year 2016.
Recorder on the Northern Circuit (2015) (Crime and serious sexual offences).
Chairman of the International Committee of the Criminal Bar Association (August 2013-January 2017).
Serious Fraud Office QC Panel 2013.
Cayman Islands Bar (2013, July and Nov 2015).
Memberships
Michael is a member of the Criminal Bar Association.
He is also a member of both the Midland and South East Circuits.
Michael is fully trained in the acceptance of Direct Access work and appears on the Bar Council register.
Michael is a member of the International Bar Association

Latest News & Publications

Michael Duck QC, of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, is involved in a murder trial over the death of a 20-year-old who was stabbed during a fight in Nottingham....

Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2019
Michael Duck QC of No5 Barristers’ Chambers saw murderer Glen Elvin jailed for life over the death of his cousin in a knife attack following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court....

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2019
Following a three-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court Michael Duck QC has seen murderer David Olczyk jailed for life for beating Kristof Zwolinski to death....

Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2019