In the past, there was a widespread impression that appointment as QC was effectively reserved to white, male, barristers, educated at public school and at Oxbridge.

Whether or not that was ever the reality in the past, it certainly is not now. It is a matter of real importance in the public interest that appointment as QC should be equally available to all higher courts’ advocates, regardless of race, gender, educational background or other extraneous personal characteristic. The sole test must be excellence in all the competencies which go up to make excellence as an advocate, not personal background.

QCA has been determined to ensure that it does all it can to ensure that appointment as QC is equally available to all. We thought it might be helpful, particularly to potential applicants from less traditional backgrounds, to provide some pen pictures of recent appointments, to show how diverse appointments as QC now are.

The pen pictures which follow are all of applicants appointed in 2014. We are very grateful to them for agreeing to participate, and for giving up their time to be interviewed. We hope that their stories will be of interest to prospective applicants in 2015 and beyond.

Helen Pitcher OBE

Chairman, QC Selection Panel

January 2015

Stuart Alford
QC

Stuart Alford

Stuart Alford QC was one of two employed advocates – of the six who had applied – appointed to silk in 2014. Called to the Bar in 1992, Stuart joined the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in July 2012 having previously spent 20 years in private practice at 36 Bedford Row working on national and international crime – with the emphasis on fraud, and mainly representing the Crown Prosecution Service. Stuart is now one of three in-house QCs at the SFO, where he heads a team of 70 case investigators and lawyers investigating the manipulation of LIBOR and also working on other projects such as the Barclays-Qatar investigation. Between 2008 and 2013 Stuart was Chair of the War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association, having been a prosecutor for the United Nations between 2001 and 2003. He was also Legal Adviser to the Iraq High Tribunal during the trial of Saddam Hussein from 2005 to 2006.

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David Forsdick
QC

David Forsdick

David Forsdick QC, of Landmark Chambers in London’s Fleet Street, was called to the Bar in 1993. He specialises in environmental, planning, local authority and public law. Prior to his appointment to Queen’s Counsel, David was on the Treasury Solicitor’s ‘A’ Panel – from 2005 to 2014 – a role which he thoroughly enjoyed.

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Benjamin Myers
QC

Benjamin Myers

We met at Benjamin Myers’ rooms in Exchange Chambers in Manchester. Ben is one of the 100 Silks appointed in 2014 and one of 20 of the new QCs who were based outside of London. Called to the Bar in 1994, Ben specialises in serious crime. As well as appearing regularly for the defence, he is a category 4 prosecutor and a specialist rape prosecutor. He has lectured on criminal law and been a tutor in International Human Rights at the University of Leeds. Before he took his LLM, Ben studied philosophy and psychology. He chose those subjects because they were people-based and therefore highly relevant grounding to becoming a criminal barrister, which was always his aim.

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Wayne Jordash
QC

Wayne Jordash

I met Wayne Jordash in Doughty Street Chambers, where he was paying a flying visit, having recently returned from one of the international courts where he specialises in criminal and human rights law. After our meeting, however, Wayne was off for a much needed holiday, after a short visit to his parents in the North-East of England. Whilst at comprehensive school, Wayne – who is of mixed Caribbean and English heritage – had originally planned to become a social worker, and he studied psychology at university. However, after returning from a seven months “gap” in Japan following graduation, Wayne had decided that his long-term career aim would be to work for the United Nations.

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Hugh Sims
QC

Hugh Sims

Hugh Sims was called to the Bar in 1999 and appointed to silk in 2014. The legal directories already recognised him as a leading Western Circuit barrister – across no fewer than seven areas, from commercial through professional negligence to insolvency. Prior to taking silk, Hugh had been on the Attorney General’s Panels since 2002. We met at Hugh’s Guildhall Chambers in Bristol. Hugh told me that he had studied physics at Manchester University but although he enjoyed the subject (and was good at it, he gained a ‘first’), he said that the prospect of “a lifetime spent underground at CERN” did not really appeal to him.

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Constantine Partasides
QC

Constantine Partasides

Constantine Partasides QC was one of the youngest solicitor-advocates to be appointed to silk in 2014. (Four other solicitors were also successful.) He came to this country as an infant with his parents when they left Cyprus in 1974. But the ties with the UK predated that time, as his grandfather had fought in the Second World War as part of the British Colonial Armed Forces and had later settled here, becoming a fruit and vegetable trader in Covent Garden (in its original central London location). Constantine secured a fully state-funded assisted place at a top public school in 1979, under a scheme introduced by the then Conservative Government.

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David Southern
QC

David Southern

David Southern QC welcomed me warmly to his rooms in Temple Tax Chambers, Middle Temple, with their stunning views over Embankment Gardens towards the South Bank and Middle Temple Gardens. After making me a coffee, David suggested with wry good humour that he must be one of the “more mature” Silks appointed by HM The Queen in 2014. Be that as it may, called to the Bar in 1982, David was now one of the UK’s most in-demand tax lawyers, as well as an eminent tax academic – he was Visiting Professor and Director of School of tax law, Queen Mary, University of London. He regularly appears in a great range of tax tribunals and courts (up to and including the ECJ) and numbers amongst his clients leading global corporations, prominent individuals and political parties.

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Kathryn Skellorn
QC

Kathryn Skellorn

Kathryn was called to the Bar in 1993 after reading Law at Oxford. Now based in St John’s Chambers, Bristol, she has a specialist Children Act practice – one of five family law practitioners to be made new silks – and deals with complex care work and contentious private law matters.

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Marc Willers
QC

Marc Willers

Marc Willers’ room in Garden Court Chambers, London was rather small, with every surface piled high with journals, papers, and books (most of them bookmarked) as Marc was midway through an urgent task to identify some authorities for a case. Marc, who was called to the Bar in 1987, began by telling me that it was not until a couple of years ago that he had started to give any serious thought to applying for QC. At that stage he had found himself increasingly up against silks (and often alone himself), and he was also getting encouragement from his peers and senior judges to think about making an application for QC.

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Roger Thomas
QC

Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas, who was called to the Bar in 1979, had a specialist tax practice and was frequently instructed by top multinational companies and major accountancy firms both in the UK and, since achieving the QC ‘badge’ in 2014, increasingly from Commonwealth countries. He was particularly in demand for complex stamp duty cases. Gaining silk had meant that Roger’s practice had widened and become “more fun”, he said, which for him had been one of the most satisfying things about becoming a QC.

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