Hugh Davies OBE  QC

Hugh Davies OBE QC

Call: 1990 QC: 2013
3 Raymond Buildings
Gray's Inn
London WC1R 5BH
+44 (0)20 7400 6400

Details of practice

Criminal law; police regulation; inquests; associated public law

SFO cases include the prosecution of international corporate corruption in the conduct of public procurement contracts by a subsidiary of J&J in Greece (reported as R v Dougall, 2010). This involved considerations of multi-jurisdictional crime; the extent and application of EU principles of double jeopardy; section 73 SOCAPA agreements; the effect of US DPAs; and the SFO’s policy at that date in relation to civil settlements. Other serious fraud work includes defending Frank Warren (alleged VAT evasion) and Michael Wilson-Smith (reported as R v G, R v B). Routinely advises as to other regulatory enforcement and potential City based proceedings.

Extensive experience of serious crime, including leading multi-handed prosecutions involving serious organized crime on behalf of the National Crime Squad (now SOCA/NCA); the National Hi Tech Crime Unit; and so-called “cybercrime” cases investigated by the Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU).  Particular expertise in prosecuting offences involving child exploitation, either involving the internet, or by way of extra-jurisdictional contact offending against children.  

Additionally, specialises in proceedings relating to the actions and accountability of police forces and police officers, including defending charges of manslaughter, corruption, attempts to pervert the course of justice, and misconduct in public office.  Extensive associated experience advising and representing police officers at public inquiries, inquests, IPCC supervised investigations, internal disciplinary proceedings and associated judicial review proceedings.  Co-author of “Police Misconduct, Complaints, and Public Regulation”, OUP 2009, the leading practitioner textbook on all aspects of police regulation, including performance, misconduct, the IPCC, crime, and inquests (see “publications”:  second edition pending).

Presently instructed as Counsel to the Inquest  into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian former KGB officer allegedly poisoned by polonium 210 in London in 2006. 

Other professional misconduct work includes proceedings against medical practitioners arising from alleged clinical negligence. This reflects extensive experience of mastering subject matter relating to pathology, clinical norms and causation from the criminal and coronial jurisdictions.

In 2011 he was awarded an OBE for services to Children and Young People, in his capacity as Legal Adviser to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).  CEOP is responsible for policing national and international sexual offending against children, including internet based crime, extraterritorial offending and child trafficking.  He has advised CEOP throughout its history.  In 2013 he was lead author of an ACPO commissioned report that has resulted in the Government tabling extensive legislative reform of the sexual civil prevention order regime. 

Directory recommendations

Ranked as a “Band 1” Silk in Chambers UK 2014 both in crime and professional discipline.

Ranked as a “Band 2” Silk in Chambers UK 2014 in inquests. 

“One of the few new Silks in crime this year, he is held in very high esteem at the Bar. “  “He is good all round, you can throw any case at him, and he gets it right each time.”  Chambers UK 2014:  Crime

“He is incredibly thorough.  He knows every page that is necessary and he is a very good strategist.”  “The man for the most serious cases.  His analytical and forensic approach to cases is unmatched”. 
Chambers UK 2014:  Inquests

“Considered to be amongst the elite when it comes to police disciplinary law.  He also handles inquest work and judicial review matters.”  “I would go to him.  He stands head and shoulders above the rest.  He is just incredibly professional and very good at judging the level at which to pitch things.”  Chambers UK 2014:  Professional Discipline

Ranked as a “Band 1” leading junior in Chambers UK 2011 and 2013 both in crime and professional discipline

Professional Discipline Junior of the Year - Chambers and Partners Bar Awards, 2009, and nominated as such again in 2010 and 2011

The "frighteningly bright and very sharp" Hugh Davies is seen as "simply one of the best barristers in the country" when it comes to police misconduct matters and criminal proceedings brought against the police.  His increasing workload in cyber-crime is also noted, and he specialises in prosecuting child exploitation offences.  In the past twelve months he has been leading a 24-handed Old Bailey prosecution regarding allegations of industrial-scale cannabis cultivation across the UK.  Chambers UK 2013 (Crime)

Leading junior Hugh Davies is "the best junior barrister for police discipline bar none."  Specialising in defence work, he will often lead opposite silks, and has been instructed in high-profile cases and inquests.  These include the inquest into the death of former Russian Federal Security Service officer Alexander LitvinenkoChambers UK 2013 (Professional Discipline)

‘prosecutes at the highest level short of Silk’.  The Legal 500 2012 (Crime)

“one of the most thoughtful of barristers “Chambers UK 2012 (Crime)

“The ‘always impressive’ Hugh Davies has been instructed in the lion's share of politically sensitive cases in recent months regarding internal police matters and deaths in custody” Chambers UK 2012 (Professional Discipline)

“Hugh Davies’ ‘sensitive handling of emotional situations and robust approach to situations which need firmer resolution’ make him an ideal candidate for prosecuting child exploitation and human trafficking cases.”  The Legal 500 2011 (Crime)

“Hugh Davies co-wrote the leading textbook on police misconduct, and his remarkable expertise singles him out as one of the lead practitioners in the field. Clients say they always instruct him when they need a particularly ‘clever and academic approach’ to cases as ‘he knows what will work well’. He is known for his immense intellect and his ‘understated, balanced style’.” Chambers UK 2011 (Professional Discipline)

Education/professional qualifications

Reading School

Pembroke College, Oxford (BA(Hons) Jurisprudence, Domus Scholar)

University of Oxford Winter Williams Prize in Law, 1988

Lincoln's Inn, Walter Wigglesworth Major Scholar, 1990


CBA working party into the role of Treasury Counsel [2001]

CBA working party re Home Office Consultation “Modernising Police Powers to Meet Community Needs”; [2004]

Co-author CBA submission to Home Office consultation in relation to criminalising possession of extreme pornography [2006]

Legal advisor to the Children’s Charities Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS) [2005 - ]

Chair of ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) inter-agency legal advisory panel on internet and international crimes against children [2008 - ]

Member of the ACPO Combating Child Abuse on the Internet (CCAI) committee and travelling sex offenders working group [2007 - ]

Member of the new ACPO child protection executive board and plenary boards (multi-disciplinary expert boards directed at all aspects of the policing of crimes against children, nationally and extra-territorially)

Head of the Bar Human Rights Committee Child Rights Unit [2009 - ] (directed at initiatives to address international child exploitation, and involving projects with local jurisdiction NGOs, police forces, Government, and prosecutors)

Queen's Counsel 2013


Review of Civil Prevention Orders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003:  Lead Author May 2013.  Please click here for a copy of this report, which was commissioned by the ACPO Child Protection and Abuse Investigation Working Group and has resulted in proposed legislative reform under the Anti-Social Crime and Behaviour Bill.

Police Misconduct, Complaints, and Public Regulation, Oxford University Press, publication July 2009. A comprehensive practitioners’ text book, co-written with John Beggs QC, covering the national organisation of policing; the IPCC; chief officer appointment and removal; police performance and misconduct regulations 1999-2008; internal reviews and appeals; Police Appeals Tribunals; abuse of process; inquests; and police related criminal offending.

Mr Justice Burnett’s review states:

"John Beggs QC and Hugh Davies have brought together the detail of all the relevant law into one comprehensive volume and provided a readily understandable commentary on all of its major aspects. This book deals succinctly with the criminal offences with which police officers may be changed in connection with their duties. The section on Coroners' Inquests provides an impressive précis of law and procedure as it affects deaths for which the police may be responsible. The disciplinary chapters explain the processes and then provide the texts of all the material statutory instruments. This work will be an invaluable guide to any practitioner concerned with any aspect of Police behaviour. To have all the material in one place will save hours of work. This work is something of a trail-blazer in the disciplinary field. It will not be long before similar works appear dealing with other professions."

See here for more information


Child Pornography and the internet – A Practical Guide to Prosecution (2003)

Misconduct in Public Office: A Guide to Definition and Avoidance (2003)

Child Pornography: Investigation and Prosecution (2005 conference at The British Library)

Firearms Operations: managing the legal and professional risks a series of lectures to Bronze, Silver and Gold Commanders in July 2006 with John Beggs QC, Colin Burrows QPM and Phil Manns (ex SO19)

Social Networking: A Lawyer’s Perspective (Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP), June 2006, part of a wider conference addressing dangers to children from social networking sites)

Regular delivery of training to judges (through JSB serious sexual offences seminars) and, separately, CPS lawyers on internet based and extra-jurisdictional offending against children

International child abuse prevention initiatives and Communication technologies and child abuse; The South African Professional Society on the Sexual Abuse of Children (SAPSAC; a national multi-disciplinary organisation), as international guest speaker (Pretoria, May 2010)

Other information

Twin of Robert Davies, Principal Crown Advocate, CPS SCD

Criminal Bar Association

Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers

Direct access

Hugh Davies is qualified to accept instructions direct from clients under the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme. This means that members of the public who seek specialist advice can come direct to him. In addition, he welcomes instructions from solicitors, in-house law departments, qualified foreign lawyers, and clients licensed by the Bar Council to give instructions direct to barristers under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Scheme. 

 For further information please contact our Clerks.

Notable cases


Against a background of prosecuting and defending many allegations of serious crime, including murder, manslaughter, rape and blackmail, cases include:


R v Lincoln White & Others
Led NCS prosecution of 12 defendants accused of £170m international crack cocaine conspiracy. All 12 convicted, with “Mr Average”; Lincoln White receiving 25 years’ imprisonment. Two others were subject to historic extradition proceedings from Jamaica

Operation Opaque
Leading pending 24 handed prosecution alleging industrial scale cannabis cultivation across the UK by organized criminal network

DPP v Meaden
Representing the DPP in appeal by way of case stated relating to powers of police during search. Now a leading authority on principle as to validity of reasonable force during a search

Alim Uddin
Represented the Attorney General in unduly lenient sentence reference to Court of Appeal. A leading authority on the sentencing tariff in single punch manslaughter cases

Olmazu and others
Prosecuting 8 handed indictment arising from benefit fraud by hundreds of mainly Roma offenders orchestrated by Lavinia Olmazu, a Roma rights campaigner

Computer and child-related

Jonathan Vai
Prosecution of a man for grooming a child, the first under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003

Sandra Mujuru
Prosecution of mother for allowing the death of her child at the hands of a violent babysitter partner, the first under section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2003

R v Matthew Anderson
Prosecuting international conspiracy to distribute Trojan viruses enabling covert access to and control of thousands of computers

Operation Alpine
Prosecuting “ground-breaking” international conspiracy to distribute indecent photographs of children through commercial internet newsgroups

Prosecution of four individuals responsible for extraordinary internet forum dedicated to fraud

Ryan Cleary and others
Prosecution of Cleary and others in relation to widely publicised alleged offending through the international LulzSec group, requiring close co-operation with concurrent US proceedings


John Beach
Led defence of man accused of organising two airside robberies at Heathrow airport, the first yielding nearly £5m, the second targeting £35m of gold bullion


Substantial confidential advisory work for City-based proceedings

Trials include:

Frank Warren
Junior counsel for boxing promoter accused of substantial VAT fraud

R v Dougall and others
Junior counsel (to John Kelsey-Fry QC) for SFO in relation to proceedings arising from corporate corruption quantified at £40m in the Greek orthopaedic market by Johnson and Johnson

Michael Wilson-Smith
(reported as R v G, R v B)
Junior counsel for defence of solicitor in alleged £80m fraud (as reported, the case collapsed in consequence of disclosure errors by SFO)


Representing the individual officers unless otherwise stated

Extensive appearances in police related proceedings, including defending serious criminal allegations against police officers (manslaughter; death by dangerous driving; misconduct in public office; corruption). Inquests have addressed deaths in custody through alleged negligence/procedural error; acute behavioural disturbance/excited delirium; restraint/ positional asphyxia; alcohol and drug intoxication; sickle cell trait and other complex matters of medical causation; and police shootings.  He specialises additionally in associated misconduct and judicial review proceedings.  Pending judicial reviews include those challenging the IPCC as to its powers under Schedule 3 of the PRA 2002 (IPCC v West Yorkshire Police (Armstrong); Mackaill and others (the ‘Plebgate’ Police Federation representatives) v IPCC)

Cases include: 

Investigating police officer in relation to IPCC instigated charges following the murder of Peter Woodhams (MPS Fed: misconduct and chief officer’s review)

PS Gurpal Virdi
Acting as presenting officer in the misconduct proceedings against PS Virdi. The MPS elected not to appeal the subsequent (differently decided) employment tribunal decision

DCI White and DS Bennett
Officers accused of unlawful bugging of privileged conversations in Lincolnshire police stations (misconduct, judicial review)

Tania Moore, deceased
Police misconduct proceedings arising from failures preceding the murder of Ms Moore (Derbyshire Fed: misconduct)

PS Andrew Hickinbottom
Officer accused of manslaughter of heroin addict having authorised her release at roadside near Grimsby (crime (led); misconduct)

PC Leigh
Misconduct in public office arising from death of Colin Holt under restraint (crime and inquest)


Roger Sylvester, deceased
Represented eight MPS officers from outset of proceedings, at inquest and through to successful judicial review of inquest verdict of unlawful killing (MPS Fed: reported as Anderson and others; led)

Colette Lynch
Officer accused of misconduct arising from the circumstances preceding the murder of Colette Lynch, in the first (and only) public discipline hearing directed by the IPCC, and subsequently appeared for various officers at the associated subsequent 10 week inquest (Warwickshire Fed: leading counsel)

Simon Murden, deceased
Police inspector that authorised deployment of a firearms team to A63 near Humber Bridge resulting in fatal shooting (Humberside Fed: 6 week inquest)

Michael Powell, deceased
Represented the senior police officer in relation to misconduct in public office charges arising from the controversial death of Michael Powell in Birmingham (trial 2006), and 10 officers at the associated 6 week inquest and various judicial review proceedings (West Midlands Fed: crime, misconduct, judicial reviews, inquest; leading counsel)

Jean Charles de Menezes, deceased
21 surveillance officers at the inquest and associated judicial review proceedings (MPS Fed: inquest, judicial review; led)

Paul Coker, deceased
Representing 13 officers at the 6 week inquest into the death of Paul Coker at Plumstead police station (MPS Fed: inquest, misconduct, judicial review; leading counsel)

7/7 London bombings inquests
One of team of four counsel instructed by the MPS

Mark Saunders, deceased
Junior counsel for widow of Mark Saunders, the barrister shot by police in Markham Square, Chelsea

Peter Connelly, deceased
Instructed as leading counsel by the MPS in respect of the possible resumption of the inquest into the death of Peter Connelly (previously referred to as “Baby P”)

Raoul Moat
Instructed on behalf of West Yorkshire Police taser officers

Reece Staples
Misconduct and pending inquest proceedings arising from the death in custody of Reece Staples following cocaine overdose

Alexander Litvinenko
Instructed as Counsel to the Inquest

Anthony Grainger
Instructed to represent the firearms officer responsible for shooting the deceased (pending)

Flt Lt Cunningham
Instructed by Lincolnshire Police in relation to the fatal ejection of a Red Arrows pilot

Alistair James Bell
Instructed by West Yorkshire Police to represent all officers at inquest following fatal shooting of Mr Bell during containment. Bell discharged some 34 rounds at these officers, some of which were unarmed and hit whilst retreating