Stuart accepted an offer of tenancy in August 2019, having completed a third six pupillage, in prison law, public law, inquests and actions against the police under the supervision of James Dixon.
Since joining No5 Stuart has gained extensive experience in inquests, both acting for families and local authorities. Stuart has appeared at many pre-inquest reviews and full inquests. Through this Stuart has gained substantial experience in making written and oral arguments in discrete areas of coronial law, particularly in relation to whether Article 2 is engaged.
Recent cases Stuart has worked on include:
Toby Nieland: In this case 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 Toby Nieland received and the family are currently awaiting a prevention of future death report.
Trevor Alton Smith: Stuart attended the pre-inquest review for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust in a case which concerned the shooting of man by armed police in Birmingham.
Stuart has also acted in nearly a dozen short inquests on behalf of the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust where the deceased had some contact with mental health services.
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 GBP 300,000 fine.
Prison and Public Law
Prior to coming to the Bar Stuart gained extensive expertise in prison law as a paralegal at a leading human rights and civil liberties firm based in London. Through this Stuart developed expertise at representing clients at Parole Board hearings, independent adjudications and for various sentence planning matters.
Stuart also gained a significant amount of experience in challenging decisions within the criminal justice system both domestically and before the European Court of Human Rights.
Cases Stuart assisted on include:
The Howard League and Prisoners’ Advice Service v Lord Chancellor  EWCA Civ 244. A successful 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 The Parole Board  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 policy.
Since coming to the Bar, Stuart has settled judicial reviews against the Parole Board and the Independent Adjudicator. Stuart has also advised in cases concerning Article 5 claims for damages and false imprisonment arising out of the prison system.
Stuart recently settled a claim for breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 where a Muslim prisoner had been discriminated against by a prison as the prisoner was not allowed to wear his religious headwear.
Stuart is currently instructed by the Prisoners’ Advice Service to draft a toolkit for LGBT prisoners to inform them of their rights, which will be disseminated to every prison in England and Wales.
Actions against the state and Inquests
Stuart has a keen interest in actions against the state. He has recently been instructed in a number of claims or police mistreatment, including where powers under Prevent have been used.
Stuart has a particular interest in challenging decisions made within the Criminal Justice System by way of judicial review.
Stuart is also an active member of the Police Actions Law Group (PALG).
During Stuart’s first six months of pupillage he spent a significant amount of time at the Central Criminal Court observing and assisting on complex and serious criminal trials.
During his second six Stuart appeared daily in the Magistrates’ Court and in the Crown Court.
A highlight of the cases he worked on in his second six include:
Instructed as a junior for a murder trial heard at the Central Criminal Court.
Instructed as a disclosure junior for a controlled prostitution case where 20,000 pages of phone downloads had to be scheduled and analysed at short notice.
Stuart has a keen interest in challenging the use of police powers, in particular stop and search and powers of entry and used his human rights and civil liberties background to help challenge this in criminal proceedings.
Stuart also developed an interest in Proceeds of Crime proceedings.
Stuart has experience of representing clients before Hospital Managers and before the Mental Health Tribunal in complex cases raising novel points of law.
Before coming to the Bar
Prior to coming to the Bar, Stuart worked as a research assistant at Birnberg Peirce. He also worked as paralegal at Bhatt Murphy specialising in prison law, actions against the police, public law and inquests. Prior to this he was a paralegal at Kesar and Co where he specialised in prison law and criminal appeals.
Immediately before coming to the Bar he was an Advice and Information Officer at Liberty, where he was responsible for co-ordinating their public advice service and providing training to Magic Circle firms on range of issues including human rights and civil liberties, privacy and data protection.
Harmsworth Scholar of the Middle Temple
Police Actions Lawyers Group
The Trans Equality Legal Initiative
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
Publications that Stuart Withers feature in:
With Jane Ryan ‘Transgender Rights and Remedies’ (Sep 2016) Inside Times.
With Jane Ryan ’Transgender issues in the criminal justice system’ Legal Action Group