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Doughty Street Chambers

Work 020 7404 1313
Fax 020 7404 2283
Bristol, London, Manchester

Heather Williams QC

Work 020 7404 1313
Doughty Street Chambers (Doughty Street Chambers)


Heather specialises in civil liberties and human rights cases, particularly actions against the police, inquests and other public and private law claims arising from unlawful detention and official misconduct. She also has a substantial discrimination practice involving both employment and non-employment claims. She is currently leading a small team representing a bereaved family at the Hillsborough Inquest. Her recent notable cases include: AJA v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2013] EWCA Civ 1342 (damages claims arising from undercover police officers forming sexual relationships with political activists); Copeland v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWCA Civ 1014 (test for determining who is a 'prosecutor' for tort of malicious prosecution); ZH v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2013] EWCA Civ 69 (police restraint of a severely autistic teenager amounting to disability discrimination, assault and infringement of ECHR Articles 3, 5 and 8); Turner v East Midlands [2012] EWCA Civ 1470 (whether conventional band of reasonable responses test applies to an unfair dismissal claim when rights protected by Article 8 ECHR are engaged); and BBC presenter, Miriam O'Reilly's successful employment tribunal case for age discrimination.


Called 1985; Gray's Inn, elected bencher 2011; QC 2006. Additionally, Heather sits as a part-time Employment Judge and chairs the Royal Mail's National Appeals Panel and the Legal Aid Agency's Special Controls Review Panel. Former deputy-head of Doughty Street Chambers; she is now head of the Actions Against the Police and the Employment teams. Publications of note: co-author of 'Police Misconduct: Legal Remedies' (4th ed.) published by the Legal Action Group.


Discrimination Law Association; Police Actions Lawyers Group; Inquest; Liberty; Justice; ALBA; Industrial Law Society.


Portsmouth High School; Kings College London (1984 LLB First Class Hons).


Activities with her teenage children, rock music, yoga.

London Bar

Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)

Within: Leading Silks

Heather Williams QC - Doughty Street Chambers ‘ Incredibly hardworking, extremely persuasive and a bright leader.' ’

Within: Civil liberties and human rights (including actions against the police)

Doughty Street Chambers is known for its 'excellence in bringing claims against the police and in the inquest field' and has vast expertise in immigration, extradition, and claims against the state. Recent instructions of note for members include Heather Williams QC representing clients in McGlone & Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, which concerns the role of the police in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. She has also been instrumental in the Undercover Police Inquiry, undertaking considerable advisory work for the core participants which include Neville Lawrence and six victims of deceptive sexual relationships initiated by undercover officers. Edward Fitzgerald QC is acting for Maha El Gizouli, the mother of one of the 'IS Beatles', El Shafee Elsheikh, in her application for a judicial review into the Home Secretary's decision to cooperate with the US authorities and assurances that her son won't be subject to the death penalty. Others members of note include Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, who acted for Just for Kids Law in a test case concerning the use of children as ‘covert human intelligence sources’ by the police in R (Just for Kids Law) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Stephen Cragg QC who acted in Miah v Independent Police Complaint Commission challenging the use of illegal stops at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act 2010; and ‘standout junior’ Adam Wagner who acted for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in AB, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Justice regarding the prolonged detention of a minor in solitary confinement.

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Within: Leading Silks

Heather Williams QC - Doughty Street Chambers ‘ An absolute brain box, puts legal knowledge quickly into context and has the ear of the court. ’

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Inquests and inquiries

Within: Leading Silks

Heather Williams QC - Doughty Street Chambers ‘ Intellectual hefty, a superb cross-examiner and total dedicated to her role. ’

Within: Inquests and inquiries

Considered 'one of the very best' Doughty Street Chambers is an 'excellent set for inquest work', acting on behalf of bereaved families in cases including  deaths in clinical and custody settings such as immigration detention, secure hospitals and prison. As an example, Alison Gerry acted at an inquest on behalf of the sister of Kirsty Walker, a prisoner at Sodexo-run HMP Bronzefield who after engaging in over two hundred acts of self harm took her own life in the prison. Heather Williams QC represents the families of three of the deceased in the resumed inquests into the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombings, which killed 21 and led to six men ("The Birmingham Six") being wrongfully convicted. Members are involved in all the major ongoing public inquiries, with Henrietta Hill QC acting as deputy counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

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