Mark, who has been Head of Chambers at Garden Court North Chambers since 2013, is a highly experienced defence trial advocate who is regularly instructed in cases of murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious 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, legal aid and access to justice. He is a trustee of Amicus ALJ, the US death penalty charity.
Mark is determined to provide those he represents with excellent service. He takes time to explain all the options to his clients, including the perceived strengths and weaknesses of their case, and is concerned to make sure that his clients understand what is happening in the preparation of their case. He has a strong empathy with his clients and, whilst providing a thoroughly professional service, also makes his clients feel relaxed and able to discuss their concerns. Mark provides as strong and resolute a defence as possible, and endeavours to obtain the best possible outcome for every client. He is known for the thoroughness of his preparation in all cases.
Mark was 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. 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 (which later became 2 Garden Court and then Garden Court Chambers). 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. Although Mark's work is clerked entirely through Garden Court North Chambers, he is a door tenant at Garden Court in London.
Criminal defence and appeals
Mark is a highly experienced defence trial advocate. He took silk in 2009 and is regularly instructed in cases of murder and manslaughter. Recent cases include representing:
- A man charged with murder in a four handed shooting in Bradford;
- A man charged with murder after the victim in respect of whom he had already been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm subsequently died (the trial took place at Liverpool Crown Court);
- One of three men charged with a shooting murder in Sheffield; and
- A man charged with five others with murder in Oxford in 2017.
Both as a junior and in silk, Mark has often been instructed in cases of rape and sexual assault. He has built up a considerable expertise in this area of law and is particularly skilled in representing those accused of historic offences. Mark is keen to act in such cases because there are few other cases where a defendant’s right to a fair trial is more seriously under threat, particularly when the allegations are of a historic nature. Examples of Mark’s work include representing defendants in:
- Operation Bullfinch, a multi-handed case involving the most serious charges of sexual assault, which was tried at the Central Criminal Court in 2013;
- Operation Sabaton, a multi-handed case of serious sexual assault, which was tried at Oxford Crown Court in 2016; and
- Operation Silk (for the lead defendant), a multi-handed trial of serious sexual assault, which was tried at Oxford Crown Court between October 2017 and March 2018.
Public law (judicial review)
Mark is experienced in bringing judicial reviews involving criminal cases as well as inquests and has experience of challenging decisions of the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
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); and
- 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. His first involvement in death penalty work came in 1998 when he worked pro bono in a capital murder trial in Texas where he assisted the local attorneys with the preparation of the case for trial. This involved being temporarily admitted as a member of the Texas Bar. Since that time he has been involved with Amicus, an organisation which trains young lawyers to undertake internships in the US assisting in death penalty trials and appeals.
In January 2017 Mark spent two weeks in Houston, Texas assisting local attorneys with trial preparation on several capital cases, work which he has been able to continue with once back in the UK.
He regularly teaches at the Amicus training sessions on Trial Procedure in Capital Cases, Jury Selection and Mitigation Issues. He also teaches on Appeals in State and Federal Courts in Capital Cases. Each autumn, subject to availability, he delivers a popular lecture tour on the “death penalty in the US” to a number of law schools and universities across the UK.
He has also written a number of articles for the Amicus Journal on aspects of US death penalty law. In 2008 Mark became a trustee of the charity.
Mark has been involved with writing Amicus Curiae briefs in four US Supreme Court cases.
- In 2009 he assisted in writing a brief on behalf of the BHRC outlining the UK position on life sentences for young offenders in the UK in the case of Graham v Florida where the challenge was against life without parole for those aged under 18;
- In 2011 he helped draft an amicus curiae brief in the case of Manuel Valle on death row in Florida for over 33 years in which he argued that comparison with the position in UK law showed that execution after such a length period on death row together with the failure to provide a meaningful clemency process would contravene international law standards;
- In 2012 he assisted in writing a brief on behalf of the BHRC in support of the main petition and which argued the international perspective as well as citing the law in England and Wales on the sentencing of juveniles convicted of murder in the case of Miller v Alabama heard together with Jackson v Hobbs from Arkansas where the challenge was against life without parole for juvenile murderers; and
- In 2015 in a challenge in the US Supreme Court to the continuing constitutionality of the death penalty by an inmate on death row in Pennsylvania he wrote part of an amicus brief on behalf of the BHRC setting out the arguments that led to the abolition of the death penalty in the UK in the 1960s (see Walter v Pennsylvania).
- April 2018 to date – Representing one of six men charged with murder in Oxford in 2017;
- February to March 2018 – Represented one of three men charged with a drive-by shooting in Sheffield;
- R v Asssad Hussain (Oxford Crown Court – October 2017 to February 2018): Represented main defendant in case of historic sexual assault (Operation Silk);
- Hillsborough inquests: Instructed by 22 families;
- June 2017 – Defended man accused of participation in murder in 2013 where victim was buried in concrete “tomb” in garden shed – R v MW;
- March 2017 – Defended man accused of murder where victim had died only after defendant had already been convicted of GBH – R v JW;
- R v Hanif and Bakish Allah Khan  EWCA Crim 1678: Police officer on jury case – Court of Appeal allowed appeal after CCRC reference;
- April to June 2016 – Defended man accused of serious historic sexual offences as part of Operation Sabaton – Oxford Crown Court;
- R v QH (November to December 2016): Defended man accused of participation in a drive-by shooting murder in Bradford;
- Acted for Assad Hussain, one of 9 defendants in the Oxford sex-grooming case Operation Bullfinch at the Old Bailey (January to May 2013);
- R v Ahmed (Imtiaz)  EWCA Crim 99: Appeal against IPP sentence for manslaughter – substituted with hospital order with restrictions under sections 37 and 44 Mental Health Act 1983;
- 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;
- 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 sections 37 and 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;
- R v Hughes ;  1 Cr. App. (S.) 25 EWCA Crim 841: Successfully argued that reference by Attorney 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 0 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 Crown Court – July 2008): Jury failed to agree in case alleging multiple sexual assaults on step-daughter. No re-trial;
- R v Brereton and others (Sheffield Crown Court – 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 7th April 2008: 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 section 113 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and 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 WLR 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; and
- Junior counsel in R v Khan (Sultan)  AC 558;  2 Cr. App. R. 440: 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.
- Criminal Bar Association;
- Trustee of Amicus (Assisting Lawyers for Justice on Death Row); and
- Door tenant at Garden Court Chambers, London.
Mark’s Privacy Notice may be viewed by clicking here.
A defence specialist with vast experience in the most complex and serious criminal offences, including large-scale drugs importation, historic sexual assault and murder. He has most recently been instructed in the Hillsborough Inquiry by the families of those killed in the disaster and in the highly publicised Oxford sex grooming case.
"He has a strong sense of justice and does a lot of pro bono work."Chambers and Partners 2019
Very experienced in murder and serious sexual offences cases.The UK Legal 500 2019
A defence specialist with vast experience in the most complex and serious criminal offences, including large-scale drugs importation, historic sexual assault and murder. He has most recently been instructed in the Hillsborough inquiry by families of those killed in the disaster and in the highly publicised Oxford sex grooming case. Strengths: "Has fantastic mastery of a brief, great knowledge of the law and a strong rapport with the clients." "His submissions are absolutely brilliant and he is very astute." Recent work: Acted for the defence in Re Mohammed Faisal Khan. This case saw four defendants charged with murder in Bradford.Chambers and Partners 2018
Recommended for historic sexual assault and drugs cases.The UK Legal 500 2017
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
Experienced in defence trials.The UK Legal 500 2016
Acts for clients on the full range of general crime work. He regularly acts on cases involving sexual offences and murder. Expertise: "He is very thorough and prepared to fight for the client."Chambers and Partners 2015
A highly experienced defence trial advocate with expertise in serious offence cases.The UK Legal 500 2014
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 and Partners 2013
Mark George QC has a well-established reputation for serious crime cases.The UK Legal 500 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 and Partners 2012