John Cooper QC, Alex Jamieson and Alex di Francesco represent the principal group of bereaved families at the Manchester Arena Inquiry
They are instructed by Victoria Higgins and Shane Smith of Slater & Gordon Solicitors.
The Manchester Arena Inquiry began on 7th September 2020 and is chaired by Sir John Saunders. The hearing will explore the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the terrorist bombing of the Ariana Grande concert on 22nd May 2017. Amongst other topics, the Inquiry will consider: whether the attack could have been prevented; the security arrangements around the Arena; the emergency response to the bombing; and the radicalisation of Salman and Hashem Abedi. It will also fully investigate the deaths of the individual victims and hear personal details about them from their families and loved ones. Commemorative Hearings began on Monday 14th September 2020, and those who knew the victims have been paying deeply moving tributes to each of the deceased.
The proceedings began as conjoined inquests for the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing but were converted into Public Inquiry by the Home Secretary when Sir John Saunders came the conclusion that he could not discharge his duties to the victims under Article 2 of the ECHR within the strictures of the coronial process. At the time he said:
“It is of vital public importance that an Article 2 compliant investigation that is full, fair and fearless is conducted into the terrible events that resulted in the deaths of the 22 people killed at the Arena. I have reached the view that, in the light of my ruling on the Public Interest Immunity applications, such an investigation cannot now be achieved through the inquests and must be done by establishing a statutory public inquiry”.
The Inquiry is listed to sit into the Spring and Summer of 2021.
John Cooper QC, has been instructed as Leading Counsel. He has acted in many of the most important and high profile cases of recent years, ranging from inquests into the deaths at Deepcut Barracks, The Hercules Inquest on behalf of bereaved families as a result of the biggest loss of life in a single military incident since the Second World War, The Puma (Brown Out) Inquest, Nimrod (Mid air explosion litigation), advising the family of Gordon Gentle (roadside bomb) and the Jacintha Saldanha Inquest (Australian DJ 'Hoax' case).
He was Chief Prosecution Counsel in the Iran People's Tribunal Hearings in The Hague and is presently instructed as Chief Counsel in the forthcoming CEDAW Tribunal hearings concerning the pension rights of women over 60.
He advises members of the Labour Group at Kensington Council on matters relating to the Grenfell Public Inquiry and is Special Advisor to the Shadow Legal Aid Minister having performed a similar role for Lord Bach in his Right to Justice Report.
John has a significant Judicial Review practice, which includes advising the London Mayor in the John Worboys Parole JR as well as Judicial Reviews into the Governments deal with the DUP, the David Kelly [Government weapons Inspector] Inquest review and the successful Deepcut Attorney General's Fiat. John was a former Attorney General A List prosecutor on Health and Safety and Environmental law breaches.
He advised 43 Labour MPs, drafting their submissions in the Parliament Prorogation arguments in the Supreme Court and was Leading Counsel for Occupy during the St Paul's 'occupation' hearings in the High Court.
John has a distinguished practice in crime, human rights, media and regulatory work and argued successfully in the so called 'Twitter Joke Trial' (R v Paul Chambers), a leading freedom of speech authority.
A former lawyer at Clifford Chance, John has written leading works on Inquests and Article 3 (Torture) and was a Legal Columnist for The Times for 10 years.
Alex Jamieson, has been instructed as first junior counsel. A significant portion of Alex's practice concerns inquests and inquiries, where he acts both for families and for those under scrutiny. He is an appointee of the Attorney General’s Panel of Special Advocates, and also practices extensively in the fields of professional discipline and business crime.
Alex Di Francesco, appointed as junior counsel, has considerable experience of acting for Interested Persons in Coronial proceedings, including when Article 2 is engaged. Alex appears on behalf of interested persons in the Coroners Court and professionals before their respective professional bodies. He has particular expertise in medical fields.