About

Chair of the Inquiry

The Rt Hon Lord Hughes of Ombersley

The Rt Hon Anthony Hughes, Lord Hughes of Ombersley, was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1970 and served as a Recorder of the Crown Court from 1985 to 1997. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1990 and was later appointed a judge of the High Court (Family Division from 1997 to 2003 and Queen’s Bench Division from 2004 to 2006). In 2006, he was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, serving as the Vice President of its Criminal Division from 2009 until his appointment as Justice of the Supreme Court in April 2013. He served as a Justice of the Supreme Court from April 2013 to August 2018.

He is currently a Judicial Commissioner under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, working with the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office.

Counsel to the Inquiry

Andrew O’Connor QC

Andrew O’Connor has extensive experience of public law litigation and also inquests and public inquiries.  In recent years, he has appeared in a series of high profile inquests and inquiries, including the 7/7 inquests, the Hillsborough inquests and the Litvinenko Inquiry. He acted as one of the Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and was also Leading Counsel to the Inquest in the inquests into the deaths of the four young men killed in East London by Stephen Port.  He is currently acting for the National Crime Agency in the Undercover Policing Inquiry and for the operator of Manchester Arena at the public inquiry into the deaths of those killed in the May 2017 terrorist attack.

Francesca Whitelaw

Francesca Whitelaw specialises in public law with particular expertise in high profile, sensitive, litigation, inquests and public inquiries involving police and government. She appeared in the Fishmongers’ Hall Terror Attack Inquest and the Sudesh Amman Inquest (Streatham Terror Attack), and is currently instructed in the Infected Blood Public Inquiry. In recent years she has appeared in the Court of Appeal in Bridges (the first case in the world to consider the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement), and in the London Bridge and Borough Market Terror Attack Inquests, the Westminster Terror Attack Inquests, and the Inquests into the deaths of trainee soldiers at Deepcut Barracks.

Émilie Pottle

Émilie Pottle specialises in public and international law. She is recommended in the directories across multiple practice areas and has appeared before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Divisional Court. She represents UK and foreign government departments, individuals and NGOs. In recent years, she has appeared in the Supreme Court in the case of R v TRA [2019] UKSC 52 concerning the interpretation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture to non-state actors. Émilie has experience in a broad range of public law matters, and acts both for and against the government in judicial review proceedings, claims against public bodies and other proceedings with a public law element.

Solicitor to the Inquiry

Martin Smith

Martin is a partner in the Regulatory Group at Fieldfisher LLP, specialising in public law including inquests and inquiries.

He acted as Solicitor to the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, the inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed, the inquests arising from the 7/7 London bombings and the Hillsborough inquests. He is currently also Solicitor to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and assisting the Covid 19 Public Inquiry with its set up.

Secretary to the Inquiry

Piers Harrison

As Secretary to the Inquiry, Piers’ role is to report to the Chair and act as the main contact between the Inquiry and the Home Office. Piers works to and for the Inquiry and it is his job to assist the Inquiry in whatever way necessary to fulfil the terms of reference.  Piers is also responsible for the wider Inquiry team.

Piers is an experienced senior leader in the civil service and has worked in a variety of policy roles across the Home Office.