Mark became Head of Chambers at Garden Court North in 2013. He is a highly experienced defence trial advocate regularly instructed in cases of murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious drugs and sexual cases. He also conducts high profile criminal appeals and miscarriage of justice work. He was instructed for 22 families in the Hillsborough Inquests which concluded in April 2016. Since then Mark has returned to defence work in the Crown Court. Mark is a regular blogger and legal commentator in the media and on Twitter on issues of criminal justice, civil liberties, human rights and Legal Aid & access to justice. He is a trustee of Amicus ALJ the US death penalty charity.
Mark is determined to provide each client with an excellent service. He will take time to explain all the options to the client including the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the case and will be concerned to make sure that the client understands what is happening in the preparation of his/her case. He has a strong empathy with his clients and whilst providing a thoroughly professional service will also make the client feel relaxed and able to discuss his/her concerns. Mark will provide as strong and resolute a defence as possible and will endeavour to obtain the best possible outcome for every client. He is known for the thoroughness of his preparation in all cases.
Mark determined to become a lawyer after seeing TV footage in the mid 1960s of American police officers beating civil rights demonstrators. He wanted to represent people fighting for their rights against the power of the state. Despite this he did not study law at university. Instead he read medieval history at Cambridge in the early 1970s and in his third year he decided that the chance to study Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic history was too great to resist. He spent part of that final year writing a dissertation on the Book of Durrow and the Book of Kells, two of the great illuminated Gospel books of early Ireland. Even today he retains a very keen interest in this subject.
Having qualified as a lawyer he joined a small radical set of chambers then located at the top of Farrer's Building in the Temple in London. Many of his first cases involved defending protesters arrested after a large anti-Nazi demonstration against the National Front in South London in 1977. Subsequently he has represented many protesters from political groups as well as miners, print workers, environmentalists and animal rights activists. In 1981 the chambers moved and became 2 Garden Court and has since grown to over 100 tenants. In 2006 those chambers moved to Lincoln's Inn and are now known as Garden Court Chambers. Although Mark's work is now clerked entirely through Garden Court North Chambers, he remains a door tenant at Garden Court in London.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Mark is a highly experienced defence trial advocate. He took silk in 2009 and is regularly instructed in cases of murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious sexual cases. Both as a junior and in silk he has often been instructed in serious cases of historic sexual assault and he often represents teachers and carers. His extensive experience also includes many appearances in drug importation cases involving massive amounts of illegal drugs.
Criminal appeals and miscarriages of justice
Drawing upon his established reputation for criminal defence and coupled with complimentary expertise in public law, civil liberties and human rights, Mark provides comprehensive and specialist advice and advocacy to anyone challenging unsafe criminal convictions.
Mark also undertakes judicial review work relating to prison law and criminal law such as challenges to decisions of the CCRC.
Prison law: Mark has considerable experience of hearings before the Parole Board where he represents prisoners, particularly before lifer panels and has advised in many cases involving serving prisoners and their rights in areas such as sentence calculation and security categorisation.
Inquests and Public Inquiries
Mark undertakes inquests on behalf of bereaved families often following deaths in police or prison custody. Mark also represents interested parties at high profile inquests following controversial deaths and where substantial cross-examination of police officers is required. In 2013 Mark was instructed along with Pete Weatherby QC on behalf of 22 families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster. The inquests started in March 2014 and concluded in April 2016.
Inquest experience includes:
- Hillsborough Inquests (2014 - 2016)
- Inquest into the death in custody of a young offender (Clayton) where the jury were scathing of the standard of care provided to him (2009, Stafford)
- Represented the family of a man killed on a night out in Liverpool in 2003 who was killed by a single punch – Coroner gave verdict of unlawful killing (2008).
- Represented mother at inquest into death of a schoolboy who appeared to have hanged himself at school (2008, Scunthorpe)
- Death in custody of female prisoners at HMP New Hall (2008)
- Kingsway Hospital inquest (2007, 8 weeks, Derby)
US Death Penalty work
Mark is an opponent of the death penalty and has a strong interest in death penalty cases in the United States. He is a trustee of Amicus (Assisting Lawyers for Justice on Death Row), writes regularly for their Amicus Journal and often undertakes Amicus Curiae briefs for death row prisoners.
Media comment and articles
Mark is experienced in providing legal commentary for media broadcasters including BBC News, Radio 4 and 5 and ITV and he also regularly authors analysis and opinion articles in both the legal press and Chambers' criminal law updates.
In January 2013 he took part in a panel discussion on "Miscarriages of Justice and Jury Trials" hosted by Kings College London Think Tank Society (photos of the debate can be seen here). Since 2013, Mark has been a vocal opponent in the campaign against the Transforming Legal Aid (PCT/QASA) proposals and has continued to speak out against legal aid cuts and other access to justice issues.
- Hillsborough inquests - instructed by 22 families.
- R v Hanif and Bakish Allah Khan  EWCA Crim 1678 - police officer on jury case - Court of Appeal allows appeal after CCRC reference.
- Acted for Assad Hussain, one of 9 defendants in the Oxford sex-grooming case at the Old Bailey (Jan to May 2013).
- R v Ahmed (Imtiaz)  EWCA Crim 99 - appeal against IPP sentence for manslaughter - substituted with hospital order with restrictions under s. 37 and s. 44 Mental Health Act 1983 UK Criminal Law Blog commentary by Mark George QC / Crimeline commentary and link to transcript.
- R v H (Manchester Crown Court - December 2012) defended man accused of causing brain injury to young child in alleged shaking case, leading Brigid Baillie.
- R v Royle (Manchester Crown Court - July 2012) defended man accused of murder of old lady in Shaw.
- R v Mitchell (2012) Defendant, a professional boxer, acquitted of murder of student by punching, leading Nina Grahame.
- Hanif and Khan v UK  296 ECHR Police officer's presence on jury made trial unfair.
- R v Peter Wilson (Preston Crown Court - September 2011) Primary school teacher acquitted of sex assault charges on pupils.
- R v Power (Manchester Crown Court - May 2011) Defended man accused of murder at a pub in Prestwich in July 2009.
- R v Thompson (Sheffield Crown Court - 2011) Represented defendant charged with rape of a woman walking her dog near Elsecar reservoir in S Yorkshire in 2010.
- R v Ogumbiyi and ors (Leeds Crown Court - February 2011) - attempted murder - following attack of Bosnian War criminal Radislav Krstic in his cell whilst serving sentence at HMP Wakefield read BBC news coverage / read Guardian news coverage.
- Morris, R (on the application of) v Criminal Cases Review Commission  EWHC 117 (Admin) (07 February 2011).
- R v Hughes  EWCA Crim 1026 - life sentence quashed and hospital order under s. 37/41 of the Mental Health Act 1983 substituted.
- R (Mohammed Ali) v Director of High Security  EWHC 1732 (Admin) (Category A prisoners designated as either "high" or "exceptional" escape risk are entitled to be given sufficient reasons for the decision to maintain that status so as to enable them to decided whether to challenge that decision).
- R v Thompson (Stafford Crown Court - September 2009) represented soldier charged with murdering his 21 month old stepson - Prosecution accepted plea to manslaughter read BBC news item.
- R v Hughes ;  1 Cr. App. (S.) 25 EWCA Crim 841 - successfully argued that reference by Att. General does not extinguish defendant's right to subsequently appeal on grounds of fresh evidence.
- R v Fields (Nottingham Crown Court - 2009) conspiracy to defraud the Revenue (£1.2m).
- R v Ian Price (Birmingham Crown Court March 2009) acquitted of attempting to murder his wife by rigging up a device to start a fire during the night.
- R v Little (Chester Crown Court November 2008) partial acquittal of teacher charged with serious sexual assault on pupil who developed a crush on him.
- R v Cooper (Sheffield Crown Court October 2008) successfully defended man charged with attempted murder.
- R v Noel Matthews (Stafford C.C. July 2008) jury failed to agree in case alleging multiple sexual assaults on step-daughter. No re-trial.
- R v Brereton and others (Sheffield C.C. April 2008) Application to dismiss indictment against environmental protesters arrested in relation to campaign against widening of M1 motorway upheld by judge.
- R v Bakish Khan and others  EWCA Crim 531, The Times 07/04/08 (whether police officer who knows officers who are to give evidence can serve on juries).
- R v Robinson (Manchester Crown Court - 2008) guilty plea to offence under s.113 Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001 (sending noxious thing likely to cause harm or intimidate) by alleged member of the SNLA who had sent packages containing caustic soda to two people. Sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.
- R v Omar Altimimi  (offences under Terrorism Act; first trial in Manchester involving allegations of conduct linked to "Middle Eastern" terrorism).
- R v S (Andrew)  1 W.L.R. 63;  2 Cr. App. R. 437 (introducing evidence of the bad character of the complainant).
- R v Ablewhite and ors (Nottingham Crown Court - 2006) the Staffordshire guinea pig farm case.
- R v AN (Birmingham Crown Court - 2006) - money laundering.
- R v Holliday; R v Leboutillier  1 Cr.App.R(s).349 (70) (nuisance phone calls by animal rights activists).
- R v AB  (VHCC case).
- R v James Carragher  (VHCC case, leading counsel) (buggery and indecent assault).
- A-G's Ref . Nos 58/66 of 2002 (R. v. Coudjoe and others)  EWCA Crim 636 (on the levels of sentence for street gangs involved with firearms and drug supply).
- R v Khan (Umer) sub nom. R v Dad and others  EWCA Crim 945;  Crim L.R. 684 (regarding hostile witnesses).
Mark was junior counsel in the case of R v Khan (Sultan)  A.C. 558;  2 Cr. App. R. 440 in which the Crown sought to rely on evidence obtained from a covert listening device placed in a private home. The case exposed the lack of statutory regulation of surveillance at the time and forced the government to introduce legislation to put such activities by the police and security services on a statutory footing. This was achieved first through the Police Act 1997 (Part III) and then by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Crime Silks: Northern (2016) "Draws on his 35 years of experience to work on high-profile cases on the circuit. He is known as a strong advocate and is recognised as a presence in the market. Strengths: "Very direct, focused and clear. He gets to the point and puts it across with passion." Recent work: He is currently working on the ongoing inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster." Chambers and Partners 2016
Crime Silks : Northern (2015) "Acts for clients on the full range of general crime work. He regularly acts on cases involving sexual offences and murder. "He is very thorough and prepared to fight for the client." " Chambers & Partners 2015
Crime Silk : Northern (2014) ‘A highly experienced defence trial advocate with expertise in serious offence cases.’ Legal 500 2014
Crime Silks : Northern (2013) "Garden Court North houses Mark George QC, a leading light on circuit who is also qualified at the Bar of Northern Ireland. He has a strong track record of defending cases of historic sexual abuse. A significant recent case for him was Hanif & Khan v UK, a matter in the ECHR concerning the fairness of a trial that saw a police officer serving on the jury." Chambers & Partners 2013
Crime - Northern Circuit (2012) "Mark George QC has a well-established reputation for serious crime cases." Legal 500 2012
Crime - Northern Circuit - Silks (2012) "Mark George QC is at the same set and is admired for being "a very clear thinker." His recent work includes acting for the defence in R v Power, a case involving an accusation of murder in a Prestwich pub." Chambers & Partners 2012
Crime - Northern Circuit (2011) "Mark George QC is 'thorough, hardworking and has good court room manner', and handles the most serious of criminal cases." Legal 500 2011
Crime - Northern Circuit - Silks (2011) "Mark George QC of Garden Court North gives excellent advice and is noted for the frequency with which he undertakes pro bono work. His practice is strongly geared towards complex murder and conspiracy to murder cases." Chambers & Partners 2011
Crime - Northern Circuit (2010) "Mark George QC is a 'very thorough and safe pair of hands' for criminal defence work" Legal 500 2010
New silks in Crime: Northern (2010) "An 'excellent attorney' who just recently took silk, Mark George QC of Garden Court North has regularly appeared on behalf of teachers and carers accused of serious sexual assaults."
Leading Junior in Crime: Northern (2009) "Solicitors praise Mark George for 'his mastery of a brief, knowledge of the law and rapport with the clients'.His practice is predominantly trial-based, and covers all serious criminal matters. He acted in R v Omar Altimini, the first trial in Manchester involving allegations linked to Middle Eastern terrorism." Chambers and Partners 2009
Leading Junior in Crime: Northern (2008) "...the very talented Mark George ..." Chambers and Partners 2008
Leading Junior in Crime: Northern (2007) "Garden Court North's Mark George enjoys a particularly privileged place in the region for 'the wealth of his experience and the regard he is held in.' He is best known for undertaking historical abuse cases and defending teachers. This year, however, he spent a good deal of his time involved in the Kingsway Hopsital Inquest into a number of deaths on the geriatric ward in the 1990s. He has also tackled a number of high-profile animal rights-related cases." Chambers & Partners 2007
Leading Junior in Crime: Northern (2006) "Representing Garden Court North is Mark George, acclaimed by peers for always being 'at the top of his game' and having cultivated an impressive serious crime practice." Chambers & Partners 2006.
PUBLICATIONS & SEMINARS
Mark publishes regular commentary on his own blog https://mmchgeorge99.wordpress.com/ In addition he writes articles and frequently provides media commentary:
- 6/6/16 A fitting end to Hillsborough: an end to institutional denial ("Hillsborough Law") (Justice Gap)
- Numerous articles and coverage following the Hillsborough Inquests conclusions
- 29/4/16 Like Hillsborough, Orgreave cries out for justice (Justice Gap)
- 29/4/16 Hillsborough inquests: why saying sorry isn't enough (Justice Gap)
- 24/2/16 Fresh appeals after R v Jogee - Joint Enterprise (Mark George QC blog)
- 12/6/15 IPCC Orgreave report (BBC2) and Orgreave 1984 - when the South Yorkshire Police were out of control (Justice Gap)
- 18/11/14 "We either stand and fight together or we all go down to defeat!" - guest post for the Tuesday Truth
- 9/11/14 Anonymity for young offenders. What is the public interest and how to apply it? (LBC Radio)
- 9/7/13 "When we say NO MORE CUTS what we really mean is NO MORE CUTS" - comments on CBA Blog
- 21/6/13 Let sleeping dogs lie: Cross-examination in advance of trial in cases of sexual assault - the Justice Gap
- 10/6/13 Are the proposed changes to legal aid oppressive? - the Islam Channel
- 18/3/13 A Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the Fight for Due Process of Law - The Student Lawyer (guest post)
- 21/2/13 A welcome resolution to an unhappy saga - R v Imtiaz Ahmed  EWCA Crim 99 - UK Criminal Law Blog
- 18/2/13 Secret courts: an affront to justice and the rule of law - the Justice Gap
- 3/1/13 Hillsborough: the end of the beginning for Campaign for Justice for the 96? - the Justice Gap
- 19/12/12 Passionate about justice - the Justice Gap
- 28/11/12 Contempt of court in 400 characters - Lexis Nexis Current Awareness
- 31/10/12 From Hillsborough to Orgreave: South Yorkshire Police "out of control" - the Justice Gap
- 22/10/12 Getting away with murder - the Justice Gap
- 22/10/12 Hillsborough investigation should extend to Orgreave - the Guardian and BBC Inside Out
- 12/10/12 Involving victims in sentencing - the Justice Gap
- 10/10/12 When the headlines are more important than justice - the Justice Gap
- 18/9/12 Hillsborough and cover-ups - the Justice Gap
- 14/8/12 The next chapter in the hearsay debate (R v Riat) - Lexis Nexis Current Awareness
- 14/5/12 Why we do what we do (ie Legal Aid)
- 5/1/12 Rethinking double jeopardy - The Justice Gap
- 23/12/11 Manchester juror who skipped jury service - BBC national News at Six
- 21/12/11 "Long on policy, short on principle" analysis of Gnango (joint enterprise, crossfire shooting) Supreme Court judgment - The Justice Gap
- 4/10/11 Use of supergrass comes under scrutiny - Lexis Nexis Current Awareness
- 22/7/11 Householder using reasonabe force against intruder - ITV Granada Reports
- 16/6/11 Facebook juror trial - BBC Radio Manchester
- 17/3/11 Confiscation Proceedings: How to Admit Hearsay Evidence? - LexisNexis Current Awareness
- 28/1/11 Can illegal property be stolen? - LexisNexis Current Awareness
- 24/12/10 R v Major and Restraining Orders - LexisNexis Current Awareness
- 9/12/10 Reversing the burden of proof - LexisNexis Current Awareness
- 1/12/10 Reasonable grounds for suspicion - LexisNexis Current Awareness
- 27/10/10 Use of British-supplied drug in Arizona execution - BBC Radio 5 Live
- 7/6/10 Anonymity for those accused of rape - BBC Radio Manchester
- 12/11/09 Freed child rapist, 16, detained - BBC Radio Manchester
- 4/12/08 ECHR ruling on DNA samples - The Times
- 13/11/08 Pro-bono hero interviewed his work with Amicus (death penalty) - BBC Radio Sheffield
- 6/2/08 Use of intercept evidence in court cases - BBC Radio 4 PM programme
- Unreliable evidence (Low Copy Number DNA) - Independent Lawyer, February 2008 and comment in The Sunday Times 24/2/08
- 18/1/08 Explanation of bail following Gary Newlove case - BBC Radio Manchester
- 16/11/07 Explanation of criminal appeals process - BBC Radio Manchester
- 7/12/06 Juror's views in rape cases - BBC Radio Manchester
Editorial panel: British Journal of American Legal Studies