Landmark victory for the Death Penalty Project: Kenyan Supreme Court declares mandatory death penalty unconstitutional
This represents the culmination of the DPP’s efforts in Kenya for over a decade, arguing that depriving judges of discretion over whether to impose a death sentence violates the right to a fair trial and amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of life.
The judgment means that new sentencing procedures will now have to be adopted in serious criminal proceedings in Kenya. For the first time judges will be able to exercise discretion over the death penalty, taking into account mitigating factors.
The DPP was admitted as international experts on the death penalty as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court, along with local NGO’s.
The DPP has been involved in legal challenges to the mandatory death penalty since 2008, and Kenya will be the 13th country where they have successfully challenged the constitutionality of this archaic law.
SM&B band – Conflict of Egos – wins London Finals of Law Rocks
Following Conflict of Egos’ triumphant success at Law Rocks in November 2016, the band have qualified for the final of the competition called “Six of the Best” which will be held on 16th March 2017 at the historic 100 Club in London.
The band are Nadia Zegze (Vocals), Caroline Subedi (Violin), Natalie Wright (Keys), Jonny Petch and Dave Phillips (Guitar), Edward Kirk (Bass), and Will Innes (Drums).
Win for News Group Newspapers in libel action by Andrew Mitchell over ‘plebgate’ affair
Former Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell has lost his High Court libel action against News Group Newspapers over The Sun‘s reporting of the “plebgate” incident.
In his judgment delivered at the High Court today, Mr Justice Mitting found that, on the balance of probabilities, MP Andrew Mitchell did say the words attributed to him or something close to them.
Mr Mitchell had sued SM&B client NGN over a story which appeared in the newspaper in September 2012
NGN were represented by Louis Charalambous and Erica Henshilwood of SM&B and Counsel, Gavin Millar QC and Adam Wolanksi.
The following are a selection of reports following the judgment:
BBC, “Andrew Mitchell ‘probably called police plebs’, judge rules”, 27 November 2014
Guardian, “Andrew Mitchell loses Plebgate libel case“, 27 November 2014
Telegraph: “Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell did call policemen ‘plebs’, judge rules“, 27 November 2014
Top Ranked For DefamationSM&B achives top tier
The firm’s Libel, Privacy and Reputation Management team was recognised in the top tier of leading firms by both legal directories, Chambers and Legal 500. This achievement was repeated in 2014.
The trial of former News International chief executive
The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekkah Brooks and others started at the Old Bailey on Monday 28 October. Anthony Burton and David Walsh represented the News of the World’s ex-managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, who was found not guilty by the jury on 24 June 2014.
Major Libel Victory for Sunday Times
On 4 July 2013, Mr Justice Simon gave judgment for the firm’s client Times Newspapers after trial of the libel claim brought against it by businessman David Hunt. The claim concerned an article headlined, ‘Underworld Kings Cash in on Taxpayer Land Fund’ written by leading investigative journalist Michael Gillard and published by the Sunday Times. The newspaper’s defence was successful on justification and Reynolds privilege, the Judge finding that the claimant was ” the head of an organised crime network, implicated in extreme violence and fraud”
Parvais Jabbar received MBE
Parvais Jabbar received an MBE in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to international human rights.
Anthony Burton made a CBE
Anthony Burton made a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the theatre.
Edge Legal team brought their music practice to SM&B.
Eight national newspapers apologised to SM&B client Christopher Jefferies for defamatory allegations made against him in relation to the death of Joanna Yeates and agreed to pay him substantial libel damages.
Heather Brooke & the MPs expenses scandal
Journalist and freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke played a crucial role in exposing the scandal of MPs’ expenses. Her persistent requests for information led to a referral to the Information Tribunal and a ruling by the High Court in May 2008 that the expenses of eleven serving MPs should be disclosed. Heather was represented at the High Court by SM&B and Counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC. (Photograph by Paul Clarke.)
Jury awards £75,000 libel damages
EastEnders star and client of the firm Mohammed George was awarded libel damages of £75,000 by a jury at the High Court against News Group Newspapers Limited. George subsequently received apologies and damages from a number of other national newspapers.
SM&B client Robert Murat received damages and apologies from multiple national newspapers in respect of allegations that he was involved in the abduction of Madeleine McCann.
The firm moved to 8-9 Frith Street and into the open plan era.
Makbool Javaid and a team of employment lawyers from DLA Piper joined SM&B.
Death Penalty Project, Charitable status
The Death Penalty Project Limited was formed with its sister charity, The Death Penalty Charitable Trust. The charitable status has enabled the DPP to apply for grants from a diverse range of funders and it is now supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and a number of charitable foundations.
Louis Charalambous brought his practice, CCL Solicitors, to SM&B.
Brook Lapping sale to Ten Alps
In 2002 the firm took a major leap forward in corporate M&A work by acting for renowned documentary production company Brook Lapping in its sale to media moguls Ten Alps, the company set up by Bob Geldof.
Saul Lehrfreund was awarded an MBE for services to international human rights.
Winners of the Times/Justice Young Lawyer of the Year award.
In 1999, Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar, co-Executive Directors of the Death Penalty Project, were joint winners of the Times/Justice Young Lawyer of the Year award.
Maxwell accountant Michael Stoney was charged with conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in relation to a loan from Bankers Trust to MGN. He was acquitted in the wake of Kevin and Ian Maxwell’s acquittals at an earlier trial. He was represented by Anthony Burton.
John Major sues over allegations of an affair
In 1993 John Major, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, sued Scallywag magazine, its printers and distributors (represented by SM&B) over false allegations he had been having an affair with Downing Street caterer, Clare Latimer. A settlement was reached but Scallywag later threatened to sue Major when it was revealed that he had had an affair with fellow MP, Edwina Currie.
Pratt & Morgan. Landmark decision on excessive delay in death penalty cases
In this landmark case, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council acknowledged that excessive delay on death row amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment. The effect of the case is that individuals who had spent more than five years on death row cannot be executed. This case resulted in hundreds of prisoners then on death row in the Caribbean having their death sentences commuted.
On 29 May 1993, Bernie Simons, a pioneer among radical lawyers and founder of the firm, died at the age of 52. An obituary written by Anthony Burton and David Walsh appeared in The Independent. The International Bar Association’s Bernard Simons Memorial Award continues to recognise personal endeavours in the practice of criminal law which make a substantial contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.
Death Penalty Project
The work of the Death Penalty Project originally began in 1992 concentrating on appeals in individual capital cases from the Caribbean and applications to international human rights tribunals. Saul Lehrfreund joined the firm to work specifically on death row cases with Bernard Simons. Parvais Jabbar joined soon afterwards.
A major breakthrough into television came in 1988 when the firm was introduced to Union Pictures, the TV production company for MasterChef. The producers were Richard Kalms and Brad Adams, who went on to found Britpack film production company Natural Nylon Entertainment, and Franc Roddam, director of the iconic film Quadrophenia. The firm’s film and television practice, headed by Simon Goldberg, took off.
Named after the three defendants Crispin Aubrey, John Berry and Duncan Campbell, the ABC Trial changed government secrecy in Britain. Aubrey, a journalist for Time Out, John Berry, a former corporal in signals intelligence (SIGINT), and Duncan Campbell, an investigative journalist, were tried – and acquitted – on charges under sections 1 and 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. Bernie Simons represented Duncan Campbell and instructed Geoffrey Robertson as Counsel.
Simon Goldberg. The firm moves into film & television
In 1987 Simon Goldberg joined the firm as an articled clerk. Bernard Simons handed him a pile of case files which would prove to be the start of the firm’s film and television practice. Directors such as Derek Jarman, who was making films like The Garden and Last of England at the time, chose Simon as their production lawyer.
Brighton bombing trial
The firm acted for the lead defendant, Patrick Magee, and for two other men charged with conspiracy to cause explosions at the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1986.
In 1985 a young Razi Mireskandari, now Managing Partner, joined the firm.
Time Out. The break up of the YV Listings copyright duopoly
The firm has always acted for Time Out and represented the magazine in the legal action which led to the break up of the TV listings copyright duopoly (Independent Television Publications Ltd v Time Out Ltd and Elliot, BBC v Time Out Ltd and Elliott).
Anthony Burton at the Royal Court Theatre
Anthony Burton advised on the play Operation Bad Apple by GF Newman directed by Max Stafford-Clark. This led to his long association with the Royal Court Theatre. He first joined the Council of the Royal Court in 1983 and became Chairman in 2005.
Dennis Muirhead takes leave of absence
Dennis Muirhead took a leave of absence from the firm to act as Counsel for the government of South Australia in a Royal Commission into non-medical use of drugs.
The firm dealt with many cases involving importation of LSD and cannabis. In March 1977, an undercover police operation dubbed Operation Julie resulted in the arrest of 120 suspects and the seizure of LSD with a street value of more than £6.5 million. Anthony Burton acted for four of the defendants. He recalls cross examining DI Greenslade (the officer in the case) and asking him where certain cannabis had come from. DI Greenslade replied ‘Your Worship, the cannabis comes from that well known place in Northern Italy called Kathmandu’.
Bernie Simons, Robert Allan and Anthony Burton were among a group of pioneering radical lawyers, championing the civil liberties movement. They met weekly giving free advice at charity, Release. Having completed his articles at David Offenbach & Co, Anthony was invited by Bernie Simons to join the firm in 1976. Besides his connection with Release, Anthony also acted for Gay Liberation Front, Gay Switchboard and Gay News (he represented the editor).
The firm represented Gerry Conlon: tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the IRA pub bombings in Guildford, which killed five people, on the basis of false confessions made after days of mistreatment by Surrey police. In 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of the Guildford Four, including Gerry Conlon, when it was found that crucial alibi evidence – proving Conlon could not have done the bombings – had not been shown to the defence.
Dennis Muirhead initially had a criminal practice but his music practice grew and he represented not only musicians but also music producers, including Eddy Offord and Hugh Padgham
Michael X. Death penalty appeal to the Privy Council
Michael X, black power leader, was sentenced to death for murder in Trinidad in 1972. Simons Muirhead & Allan handled his appeal to the Privy Council pro bono. The appeal failed and X was hanged in Trinidad in 1975. Asked for money to pay court fees etc., the support group (which included John Lennon) donated to the firm an upright piano with a brass plate which read, “On this piano John Lennon composed Strawberry Fields Forever “.
Robert Allan joined the firm which became Simons Muirhead & Allan, known for its ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ work. Robert’s practice was the “rock n roll”: he represented Dire Straits, Wham, George Michael and others.
The Belfast Ten
Bernie Simons acted for the Belfast Ten tried for bombing the Old Bailey and other sites in London in March 1973.
The Lady Building
The firm moved to occupy part of The Lady building in Maiden Lane.
The firm represented two journalists from the London underground press accused of conspiracy to cause explosions. Tried in Northern Ireland, they were acquitted. This was the first of many instructions in Irish cases.
Simons Muirhead. A criminal firm with a staff of three.
In 1971 Bernard Simons entered into a partnership with Stanley Clinton-Davis. But “Clinton-Davis & Simons” was short-lived as Stanley Clinton-Davis, an MP, was then appointed as a government minister. Dennis Muirhead, a “blonde Adonis” from South Australia, stepped in. The firm Simons Muirhead ran from two rooms over a restaurant at 39 King Street, Covent Garden. Initially a criminal firm, David Walsh was recruited as a clerk bringing the total number of staff to three.