I specialise in immigration, national security, prison law, public inquiries and inquests. I was junior counsel to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry from 2000 to 2010. I became a special advocate in 2008 and was appointed in 2012 to the Attorney General’s A Panel. In 2013 I became a member of the Welsh Government’s A Panel. I was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2016..
I have appeared in some of the leading immigration cases in recent years, including the Detention Action challenges to the Detained Fast Track system for asylum seekers and in a number of cases relating to the rights of Gurkhas’ dependants to settle in the UK.
I have a particular interest in, and wide experience of, judicial review challenges to government policy.
I have represented both the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Justice Board in inquests into deaths in custody, including several murders and the self-inflicted deaths in custody of three children.
As a leading special advocate, I represented the only successful appellant in the Operation Pathway Manchester bomb plot case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. I also, as junior special advocate, appeared in a successful challenge to the Government’s proposed Deportation With Assurances of an Ethiopian national.
I represented the Secretary of State in a challenge by three individuals, alleged to be leading members of the proscribed organisation Al-Muhajiroun, against the decision to impose TPIM notices on them. The Secretary of State’s decision was upheld.
I have extensive inquiry experience. As well as being junior counsel to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry for ten years, I represented “whistleblowing” soldiers in the Al Sweady Inquiry and was co-counsel to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which investigated physical and sexual abuse of children in the care of the States of Jersey. In 2016 I acted as counsel to the Bulk Powers Review conducted by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. I am currently leading counsel for the Department for Education in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and leading counsel for the Home Office in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
Listed in Chambers and Partners for inquests and public inquiries.
…She is developing a particular specialism in cases concerning child protection.
Strengths: “She has an extraordinary capacity to get on top of the details in a short amount of time.” “She is a very impressive advocate and also a very decent person.” “She is effective and extremely hard-working.” Chambers & Partners 2018
“Routinely instructed as counsel to large public inquiries, she also demonstrates great aptitude when appearing on behalf of participants. She is a skilled representative of state agents in inquests, and has a particular focus on proceedings involving deaths in custody.”
Strengths: “She is exceptionally bright and an excellent advocate.” “A really nice manner when conducting proceedings, which is ideal for harrowing inquiries.” “She is a master at acting for an inquiry and managing a large case.” “Extremely deft witness-handling, she is very astute, strategically minded and calm in court.” Chambers & Partners 2017
Listed in the Legal 500 2017 as a 2016 silk in the fields of immigration, civil liberties and human rights and inquests and inquiries.
Listed in the Legal 500 from 2010 as a leading immigration junior and from 2011 as a leading civil liberties and human rights junior.
“Very impressive; she surely has a bright future as silk”: Legal 500 2017 (civil liberties and human rights)
“Highly regarded”: Legal 500 2017 (immigration)
“Noted for both public inquiries and inquests”: Legal 500 2017 (inquests and inquiries)
“Able to draw on broad public law expertise”: Legal 500 2016
“She has a buoyant immigration and police law practice”: Legal 500 2016
“Well regarded for her work on Bloody Sunday”: Legal 500 2007
“Extremely hard working and very able”: Legal 500 2006
Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association
Human Rights’ Lawyers Association
Professional Negligence Bar Association
Working knowledge of French and Welsh
Led by Cathryn McGahey QC. The case dealt with whether a Requesting State had an ongoing duty to consider proportionality throughout the extradition process. After the handing down of judgment, the Judicial Authority withdrew the EAW.
Cathryn McGahey QC and Emily Wilsdon are representing the Department for Education in this public inquiry. In the Rochdale investigation, the Inquiry is analysing the response of those in authority to allegations of sexual abuse of children by Cyril Smith MP and others, and is investigating in particular allegations of abuse at Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel and Knowl View School.
Cathryn McGahey QC was co-counsel to this public inquiry, which investigated allegations that children in care had been physically and sexually abused over many years, and that their suffering had been covered up. The Inquiry Panel published its report on 3 July 2017. It found that there had been extensive abuse, that the authorities had failed to respond or investigate properly, and that children in care in Jersey might still be at risk.
Cathryn McGahey QC represented South Yorkshire Police. The judge was required to decide whether lifelong anonymity should be granted to four men who in the past had been (but were no longer) alleged to have been involved in sexual exploitation of a minor.
The Secretary of State had imposed TPIM notices on the three Respondents, alleging that they were senior leaders in the UK of the proscribed Islamist extremist group Al-Muhajiroun. The Court rejected the arguments of two of the Respondents that ALM no longer existed, and rejected the case of the third Respondent that he was no longer associated with it. The TPIM notices were all upheld. Cathryn McGahey QC represented the Secretary of State.
Cathryn McGahey QC represented the Secretary of State in this appeal, in which three members of the Rochdale paedophile ring challenged the Secretary of State’s decision to deprive them of their British citizenship. Their appeals were dismissed. The President of the Upper Tribunal gave guidance on the relevance in deprivation decisions of the prospect that the individual would ultimately be removed from the UK. The case is going to the Court of Appeal.
Cathryn McGahey QC acted as counsel to this review, which was conducted by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. The review investigated the usefulness of some of the powers which the security and intelligence agencies would have, under the Investigatory Powers Bill, to use bulk forms of information in their counter-terrorism work. The review concluded that bulk powers were of substantial utility, and that their use in the past had saved lives.
Andrew O’Connor QC is instructed by the Inquiry to act in the investigation into child sex abuse in Westminster.
Cathryn McGahey QC is Leading Counsel for The Department for Education
A campaign group, Detention Action, challenged the lawfulness of the secondary legislation governing the appellate procedure under the Detained Fast Track scheme. Cathryn McGahey represented the Secretary of State for the Home Department, an interested party.
This case involved a challenge to the lawfulness of the LASPO Exceptional Case Funding scheme. Cathryn McGahey acted as first junior counsel for the Defendants at first instance, and as second leading counsel in the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal, reversing Collins J, upheld the lawfulness of the scheme.
R (O’Toole and Others) v HMRC [2016: Judgment given but subject to reporting restrictions]
In this Divisional Court case the Claimants challenged, unsuccessfully, the lawfulness of search warrants obtained by HMRC. Cathryn McGahey represented HMRC.
The inquest investigated the self-inflicted death of the first 18 year old to be sent to HMP Belmarsh. He was sent there after being sentenced to a minimum of 18 years’ imprisonment for murder, and was found hanging five days later. Cathryn McGahey represented the Youth Justice Board.
The appellants challenged, unsuccessfully, the lawfulness of the SSJ’s policy on the strip-searching of women prisoners. Cathryn McGahey represented the SSJ.
The Inquest investigated the death by hanging of 17 year old Ryan Clark at HMY0I Wetherby. Cathryn McGahey represented The Youth Justice Board.
The inquest investigated the self-inflicted death at HMYOI Cookham Wood of 15 year old Alex Kelly. Cathryn McGahey represented the Ministry of Justice.
Fire at high rise block of flats in Camberwell caused the deaths of six people. Building Regulations in relation to fire safety and high rise structures were explored. The Inquest was heard at Inner South London Coroners Court – HHJ Frances Kirkham. Cathryn McGahey represented The Department for Communities and Local Government, and The Chief Fire Officer. Fiona Canby was instructed by SGH Martineau. January – March 2013. The Inquest took place from January to March 2013.
The Appellants challenged, unsuccessfully, the lawfulness of the SSHD’s policy on the rights of the adult dependants of Gurkhas to settle in the UK. Cathryn McGahey represented the SSHD.
The Claimant college challenged, unsuccessfully, the lawfulness of the SSHD’s policy on the standards that colleges had to meet in order to be granted Highly Trusted Sponsor status. Cathryn McGahey represented the SSHD.
Detention Action challenged the lawfulness of the SSHD’s Detained Fast Track policy and practice. The Administrative Court found the practice to be unlawful in one respect, but permitted the DFT scheme to continue. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s decision. A differently constituted Court of Appeal held the appeal element of DFT to be unlawful.
Cathryn McGahey represented the SSJ in a successful challenge to the Coroner’s decision to leave a verdict of unlawful killing to the jury, in circumstances in which a prisoner had taken his own life. This case remains the leading case on the issue of the test that a coroner should apply when deciding which conclusions to leave to a jury.
The Claimant, a college teaching overseas students, challenged the lawfulness of the SSHD’s policy on the standards that applicants for Highly Trusted Sponsor status had to meet. The College needed such status in order to be permitted to bring foreign students to the UK. The Claimants were unsuccessful, both at first instance and on a “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court. Cathryn McGahey represented the SSHD at first instance and then as junior counsel in the Supreme Court.
The Inquiry investigated allegations that British soldiers in Iraq had murdered certain Iraqi detainees, and physically abused others. Cathryn McGahey represented a number of whistleblowing soldiers.
This was a major statutory public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. David Barr served throughout as first junior counsel to the Inquiry. Cathryn McGahey appeared as junior counsel for the Chairman of the Inquiry during related judicial review proceedings. Louise Jones acted for the core participant victims in the judicial review proceedings. William Irwin acted throughout providing legal assistance to Counsel to the Inquiry. Emily Wilsdon assisted in the preparation of the report.
The Inquiry investigated the shooting in 1972 by British soldiers of demonstrators in Londonderry.
Cathryn McGahey was second junior counsel to the inquiry from 2000 to 2010.
24th January 2019
Andrew O’Connor QC and Cathy McGahey QC have been acting for the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence in claims brought by EOKA veterans alleging mistreatment during the Cyprus emergency in the 1950s.
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22nd November 2018
Cathryn McGahey QC is representing the owner of Geronimo, an alpaca whose slaughter has been ordered by DEFRA because he has tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.
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18th October 2018
Today Sir John Saunders, who has been appointed to conduct the inquests into the deaths of those killed in the bombing at the Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017, is holding his first preliminary hearing at the Manchester Town Hall.
13th August 2018
Cathryn McGahey QC and Vinesh Mandalia of No 5 Chambers represented the Home Secretary in an appeal by three members of the Rochdale paedophile gang, who were challenging the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive them of their British citizenship.
20th November 2017
Cathryn McGahey QC and Sian Reeves represented the Home Office in an appeal by the Claimants against the dismissal of their battery claims.
IICSA commences hearings into Rochdale abuse allegations
17th October 2017
Cathryn McGahey QC and Emily Wilsdon are representing the Department for Education before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The Inquiry is currently hearing evidence of alleged abuse by Cyril Smith MP and others associated with Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel and Knowl View School.
3rd July 2017
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which had spent three years investigating allegations of the abuse of children in care, and the covering up of that abuse, published its report on 3 July 2017.
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30th June 2017
The Administrative Court upheld the decision of the Home Secretary to impose TPIMs on three individuals alleged to be senior leaders of the proscribed Islamist extremist organisation Al-Muhajiroun.
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23rd May 2016
Cathryn McGahey QC, led by Martin Chamberlain QC and with Malcolm Birdling, both of Brick Court Chambers, appeared for the Lord Chancellor and Director of Legal Aid Casework in this judicial review, in which the Claimant challenged the lawfulness of the Legal Aid Exceptional Case Funding scheme.
9th March 2016
Cathryn McGahey QC appeared for the Department for Education and Fiona Canby for the Independent Police Complaints Commission
22nd February 2016
Temple Garden Chambers celebrates the elevation to Queen’s Counsel of Cathryn McGahey
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