Michael Duck QC

Viewing: Criminal Fraud and Proceeds of Crime for Michael Duck QC

2015/6 has been a particularly successful period for Michael and reflects his established reputation as a leading “silk”. He was shortlisted for Legal 500’s Regional Silk of the Year, he was appointed a Recorder on the Northern Circuit and was a shortlisted finalist in the Birmingham Law Society’s “Barrister of the Year” awards 2016.
Michael has been 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 has recently 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. In a recent case (September 2014) Michael was instructed to defend an abattoir owner accused of unlawfully allowing horses to be disposed of at his premises without the requisite identification documents. The prosecution was not proceeded with after skeleton arguments were settled by defence dealing with the proper interpretation of the relevant EU.
Michael has defended and prosecuted in a number of the country’s largest gang murders which have attracted both national and international media attention. In addition Michael has a strong following in the area of fraud as evidenced by his appointment to the SFO panel.
Michael has a particular interest and expertise in the tracing/defending of assets which are alleged to have been transferred out of the jurisdiction. In October 2013 Michael was an invited 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 of compliance professionals on the prosecution of organized crime and importance of the associated compliance and anti-money laundering legislation. Michael regularly receives instructions to defend/advise individuals charged with, or convicted of, serious crime in the Caribbean.
Michael has recently been appointed to serve as the Director of the International Law Committee of the Criminal Bar Association. During his tenure it is Michael’s intention to ensure that productive and enduring links are forged with lawyers’ associations worldwide.
Michael is recommended in both the Legal 500 and Chambers’ directory. Michael is a member of the executive committee 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. He is also a member of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Association of Commonwealth Criminal Lawyers.
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. The prosecution or defence of fraud and gang crime requires the detailed assessment of complex and detailed evidence. Michael has demonstrated a particular expertise in the analysis and presentation of complex telephone, financial and cell site evidence. During the prosecution of gang members for the “New Year’s Day shootings” 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 recent 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 and complex criminal investigation – Michael has shown the ability to present the most complex technical evidence in a manner which juries understand.
Financial investigations , 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. The financial consequences for defendants in serious criminal cases can be devastating and Michael has the experience to ensure that the client achieves the best possible outcome. Advised large UK based University upon training of advocates in the Far East. Speaker at Birmingham Law Society Seminar on ‘Eliminating the risk of doing business abroad’ (March 2014).
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.
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.
"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
“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
“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
Notable Cases
2014 - R v Turner
Representation of a man alleged to have failed to have checked the documentation of horsemeat potentially liable to enter the food chain.
2014 - R v Lomas
Representing a man accused of transporting live sheep in a manner which was likely to cause them injury. The case attracted significant national press interest and involved the complex interpretation of the relevant EU legislation in respect of “strict liability”.
2013/4 - R v Foster
Representing a defendant accused of defrauding customers of millions of pounds as a result of non-delivery of goods. The case involved complex bad character and disclosure matters.
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.
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 will arise.
2012 R v Sutherland et al – travelling community murder
Leading counsel for a defendant charged with perverting the course of justice and obstructing the coroner arising from a murder and the subsequent disposal of the body.
2012 R v Masefield – “cold case” murder
Leading counsel for a defendant charged with the murder of his closest friend over 20 years ago. The body was discovered in a drain months after the deceased went missing and was originally believed to have been a suicide. The case involved complex issues in respect of pathology.
2012 R v Ruiz-Guivara
Alleged triple “running down” murder during the Birmingham 2011 riots. 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.
2012 R v Rashid
Murder with deceased dumped in the canal Leading counsel for a defendant charged with the murder of a female associate whose body was discovered bound in a canal. Contentious legal arguments in respect of causation.
2012 R v Mann – murder of partner
Leading counsel for a man accused of killing his partner due to pending relationship breakdown. Complex diminished responsibility arguments.
2012 R v Guoga
Murder amongst the Polish community Leading counsel for a Polish national accused of the murder of a colleague whilst in drink.
2011 R v Mahmood – revenge shooting
Leading counsel for one of three defendants charged with conspiracy to murder arising from the shooting of a man in Reading. The case involved complex telecommunications and cell site evidence.
2011 R v Kennedy et al – robbery involving death of victim
Leading prosecution counsel in the case of 9 defendants charged with the robbery and kidnap of a foreign lorry driver who died from a heart attack during the commission of the offence.
2011 R v Asif Khan – multi-handed drugs conspiracy
Leading prosecution counsel for a 15 defendant Sussex/West Midlands CPS and police prosecution. The case involved the nationwide distribution of large quantities of class A drugs. It was described as one of the most complex enquiries ever launched by Sussex police.
2011 R v Brown
Privately funded death by dangerous driving Insurance funded defence of a young school teacher charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
2010 - Operations Variation and Sniper
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of further multi-handed class A drugs conspiracies involving gang related activity.
2008 - R v Rafiq –“hitman” murder in Handsworth
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a man described by the trial judge as a “professional hitman”.
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.
2010 - R v Akram – large scale financial fraud
Defence counsel for a legal professional alleged to have been involved in a multi-handed large scale mortgage fraud.
2010 - R v Yasin – sexual breach of trust
Defence counsel for a school teacher accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a 15 year old student over a period of 2 years.
2009 - R v Carty – shooting by gang member
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of a leading member of a notorious local gang. 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.
2009 - R v Biddle – love triangle murder
Junior defence counsel representing a female business manager charged with the murder of her “love rival”.
2009 - Operations Clean and Pineneedle
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of 18 suppliers of class A drugs in the West Midlands area. A number of the defendants were gang members and their drug dealing activities financed the criminal behaviour of the respective gangs. The defendants were convicted and I received a commendation for my efforts from the Chief Superintendent in charge of the enquiry.
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 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.
2006 - R v Waqar Ahmed
Murder during the 2007 Birmingham riots 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.
1996 - R v Bell et al (Operation Asia/Laura)
Prosecution junior barrister in the prosecution of a local gang which was engaged in robberies of innocent victims culminating in two murders when met with resistance. The case was one of the largest murder enquiries in the West Midlands and signalled the beginning of significant gang "warfare” in the West Midlands area. The case was reported due to the complex custody time limits arguments which arose. The prosecution relied upon pseudonym witnesses and had to consider detailed disclosure matters.
Recorder on the Northern Circuit (2015)
Chairman of the International Committee of the Criminal Bar Association
Shortlisted for Regional Silk of the Year in the LEGAL 500 2015/6 awards
Shortlisted in Birmingham Law Society “Barrister of the Year” 2015/6
Member of the International Bar Association
Serious Fraud Office QC Panel (2013)
Cayman Islands Bar (2013, July and Nov 2015)

Latest News & Publications

Mike Duck QC who prosecutes in case with Siobhan Collins, Phil Bradley QC and Ecky Tiwana defended King....

Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2021
Counsel from No5 Barristers’ Chambers prosecuted and defended (Mike Duck QC prosecuting and Ian Bridge defending) in the recent high profile and tragic case involving the death of Dr Suzanna Bull....

Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2019
Three men have been jailed for more than 70 years over the fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old, following a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecuted by Michael Duck QC....

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2019