“An outstanding advocate who is always exceedingly well prepared.”
The Legal 500
Claire Watson represents the Metropolitan Police in the inquests into the deaths of 30 British nationals who died during a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia
Experience and expertise
Claire has built an impressive reputation in the field of clinical negligence with a varied practice representing both Claimants and Defendants for over 15 years. She frequently appears on behalf of healthcare professionals in all types of disciplinary proceedings and is regularly instructed in best interests and welfare cases in the Court of Protection and the Family Division of the High Court. In the field of police law, Claire has extensive experience of civil actions, inquests and misconduct proceedings. She undertakes a wide range of advisory work and has a particular interest in advising the police on operational and policy matters. Claire also undertakes a broad range of related public law work encompassing judicial review challenges, human rights matters, inquests and professional disciplinary matters.
cases & work of note
Claire has appeared in a number of notable cases: she is currently instructed in the inquests into the deaths of those killed in the terrorist shooting in Sousse, Tunisia and has previously appeared on behalf of the Metropolitan Police in the inquests into the terrorist attack at In Amenas in Algeria. Claire recently represented a patient detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 in a ground-breaking case regarding the extent of a doctor’s duty to prevent the death of a detained patient when Article 2 and Article 9 rights compete and is currently being led by Angus Moon QC in one of the first appeals by the GMC against a decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal under section 40A of the Medical Act 1983
- Tunisia Inquests (October 2015 – January 2017)
On 26 June 2015 38 people were killed whilst on holiday in Sousse, Tunisia. A similar number were injured. The Inquests into the deaths of the 30 British nationals who died during that attack are to be heard by His Honour Judge Loraine-Smith in January 2017. Claire is instructed on behalf of the Metropolitan Police to advise on procedure, evidence (gathered both in the UK and abroad) and disclosure.
- Mr X v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (October 2016)
Claire advised the Metropolitan Police regarding police powers of retention of an 8th century artefact in a threatened claim under the Torts (Wrongful Inte rference with Goods) Act 1977.
- GMC v Dr X (September 2016)
Claire appeared at a hearing before the MPTS on behalf of a doctor accused of inappropriate tactile behaviour. In the face of robust submissions from the GMC that erasure was the only appropriate sanction, Claire persuaded the Panel that a sanction of suspension was sufficient.
- GDC v Mr H (August 2015)
Claire successfully defended a dentist facing misconduct allegations arising from his emergency treatment of a patient.
- GMC v Dr R (April 2016)
Claire appeared on behalf of a GP at a review hearing before the MPTS. The doctor’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired in 2014 as a result of professional boundary violations with two female patients. Claire successfully persuaded the Tribunal on a review of the case that the doctors fitness to practise was no longer impaired and he was permitted to return to unrestricted practice.
- Inquest into the death of Mr Alexander (April 2016)
Claire was instructed to advise the Metropolitan Police Service on evidence and procedure in the inquest into the death of Mr Alexander, who was killed during the terrorist attack on the Bataclan nightclub in Paris.
- Hopkins v Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board (March 2016)
Claire appeared on behalf of the Defendant Health Board in a clinical negligence claim arising from the psychiatric assessment of and treatment of the Deceased, who committed suicide. The claim involved complex issues of causation and contributory negligence. Claire successfully defended the claim at a trial on liability and causation.
- Re: PC M (Police Misconduct) (January 2016)
Claire was instructed on behalf of the Appropriate Authority in misconduct proceedings against a Wiltshire police officer arising from a domestic violence incident which he was involved in whilst off-duty. This case was evidentially complex as the key witnesses refused to give evidence on behalf of the Appropriate Authority. The case initially proceeded on the basis of hearsay evidence. However, the matter was adjourned part-heard in October 2015 due to allegations of witness interference and resumed in January 2016 when the alleged victim attended and gave evidence on behalf of the officer. After a fiercely defended hearing the Panel determined that the officer should be dismissed for gross misconduct. The Panel Chair commended Claire for her cross-examination of the officer saying that she really brought out his true character.
- W v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (January 2016)
Claire provided urgent advice in a judicial review claim involving a high profile reality television star. The advice requested was time sensitive as the Claimant was due to appear in the Magistrates’ Court on the following day on charges of common assault and had threatened to bring an urgent judicial review claim against the police for the failure to investigate an allegation of perverting the course of justice.
- Inquest into the death of Mr Vital (June 2015)
Article 2 inquest into the death of a man who had jumped through a closed window whilst displaying signs of Excited Delirium (Acute Behavioural Disorder). He was found covered in blood, writhing around on broken glass. Claire represented the Metropolitan Police in this emotionally charged inquest with a jury in which the attending police officers were accused of using excessive force to contain Mr Vital whilst waiting for medical assistance. The jury found his death was drug related and made no criticism of police.
- B v Royal Surrey County and East Surrey Hospitals (March 2015)
This complex obstetric negligence claim arose from the failure to identify and repair an unusual third degree perineal tear sustained during childbirth. The Claimant developed a recto-vagina fistula and faecal incontinence, eventually having a colostomy fitted for 2 years. There were difficult factual issues regarding the timing of the onset of the Claimant’s symptoms which had to be addressed with great sensitivity given the impact of the injury on the Claimant both physically and mentally. The claim was also complicated by a dispute amongst the experts in obstetrics and gynaecology and colorectal surgery as to the mechanism of injury. Claire settled the claim on behalf of the Claimant on the first day of trial for £150,000.
- In Amenas Inquests (February 2015)
On 16 January 2013, terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda took hundreds of people hostage at a gas facility near In Amenas in Algeria. 40 foreign nationals were killed either by terrorists or during the intervention by Algerian security forces. Claire was instructed on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service in the inquest into the death of six victims of the In Amenas hostage crisis. This complex and high profile inquest heard evidence from witnesses from all over the world during the course of a 30 day hearing at which the Families, International Oil and Gas companies, the Metropolitan Police and the Government were represented.
- Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust v RC  EWCOP 1317
Advising and representing a patient detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 in this ground-breaking case regarding the extent of a doctor’s duty to prevent the death of a detained patient when Article 2 and Article 9 rights compete.
- King’s College Hospitals NHS Trust v ZT (A child by his Children’s Guardian) & others  EWHC 3315 (Fam) Claire acted on behalf of an NHS Trust in a contested application to withdraw ventilation from a child who had suffered a catastrophic and irreversible brain injury.
- Thornton v Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board (November 2014)
Claire was instructed on behalf of the Defendant in this clinical negligence claim in which it was alleged that there was a failure to diagnose and treat ischaemia of the hand. This claim involved extremely complex medical evidence – in order to effectively cross-examine the Claimant’s expert, Claire needed to have a good grasp of the medicine and the published literature regarding the viability of operating on the radial artery and the likelihood of success if such a procedure was attempted. On Claire’s advice the claim was robustly defended to trial. Following a 3 day trial in Cardiff District Registry, the Trial Judge found for the Defendant and the claim was dismissed with costs.
- Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v James  EWCA Civ 65
Appearing on behalf of Mr James (“J”), through the Official Solicitor, in the Trust’s appeal against the decision of Peter Jackson J that it was in J’s best interests to continue to receive life sustaining treatment.
- An NHS Trust v (1) R (A Child by his Children’s Guardian) (2) Mr R (3) Mrs R  EWHC 2340 (Fam)
Appearing on behalf of R, a 14 month old child with a terminal mitochondrial disorder, in an application to withdraw ventilation.
- An NHS Trust v (1) L (2) L (3) FL (4) TL  EWHC 4313 (Fam)
Appearing on behalf of the Applicant NHS Trust in this application for a declaration that in the event of a deterioration of the condition of a patient, who had suffered a devastating neurological injury which left him in a minimally conscious state, it would not be his best interests to receive active resuscitation, despite the express wishes of his family.
- GDC v B (October 2011)
Claire represented a dentist charged with misconduct arising from over 60 allegations of sub-standard dental treatment and poor communication. Following a two-week hearing, the Professional Conduct Committee found that his fitness to practise was not impaired.
- GMC v (1) Dr R & (2) Dr B (June 2011)
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist cleared of all allegations of misconduct arising from the management of the complainant’s labour.
- A LOCAL AUTHORITY v (1) A (2) B (3) C (4) D  EWHC 231 (Fam)
Appearing on behalf of a paediatrician granted intervener status in care proceedings in the High Court.
- Douglas v Chong (October 2010)
Claire successfully defended a claim against an ophthalmic surgeon which proceeded to trial on liability only.
- Gregory v Barking and Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust (July 2010)
Application before a Master for disclosure of medical records against a non-party where the patient expressly refused to consent to disclosure of his records.
- Al-Rubai v Malhi (March 2010)
Trial of a dental negligence claim concerning the administration of local anaesthetic prior to the performance of root canal treatment, successfully defended on liability.
- Browne v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police (November 2010)
Claire appeared on behalf of the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police in an application for permission to apply for judicial review of a SOPO made some 3 years ago. She succeeded in an application for a costs order against the Claimant when permission was refused.
- NMC v Mrs F (May 2010)
Claire appeared pro bono on behalf of a nurse at a hearing of the Conduct and Competence Committee. There had been a finding of impairment by reason of professional misconduct in another jurisdiction, where the nurse had been erased from the Register. The Panel accepted that there were issues relating to the nurses health at the heart of the case and a conditions of practice order was imposed.
- GDC v V (June 2010)
Appearing on behalf of a dentist at a fitness to practice panel hearing concerning allegations of misconduct and poor performance. After a lengthy fitness to practice hearing Claire successfully argued that the dentist’s fitness to practise was not impaired.
- Inquest into the death of Paul Coker (February 2010)
Claire appeared on behalf of the Metropolitan Police in this high profile article 2 inquest into the death of a man suffering from “excited delirium” or “acute behavioural disorder”.
- Baldwin v Dodds (November 2009)
Appearing on behalf of the Claimant in a claim against an orthopaedic surgeon which went to trial in the High Court. Claire’s opponent commended her for “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.
- Tibbetts v Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police (July 2009)
Claire represented the Chief Constable in a claim for false imprisonment arising out of the Claimant’s arrest on recall from prison. Although the revocation of his licence and recall to prison by the Secretary of State for Justice was unlawful, Claire successfully relied upon the defence of lawful justification to have the claim dismissed at a trial on this preliminary issue.
- Inquest touching the death of Simon Allen (March 2009)
Claire represented a doctor in an Article 2 inquest into the death of an inmate with mental health problems on a prison healthcare wing.
- Detath v Markos (November 2008)
Claire was successful in an application to strike out a claim against a doctor on the basis of expert witness immunity.
- Snelling v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police (March 2008)
Claire represented the Chief Constable in an appeal against the revocation of firearm and shot gun certificates. The appeal was heard in two parts: open and closed and involved extensive legal argument regarding disclosure of confidential material which the Chief Constable sought to rely upon. A large part of the appeal was heard in chambers and in the absence of the Appellant, which necessitated the appointment of a Special Advocate.
- R v Jeffrey (February 2008)
Claire was instructed on behalf of a Primary Care Trust following the issue of a summons by a Crown Court judge directing disclosure of the medical records of a victim of rape and sexual assault.
- Rabess v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 208 (Admin) Challenge to the prohibitions included in an ASBO.
- GMC v Dr Reid (2006-2007)
Led by Adrian Hopkins QC, Claire represented the psychiatrist Dr Reid in the GMC inquiry into allegations of misconduct in the treatment of transsexual patients. Dr Reid faced a series of allegations that he had started sex changing hormone treatment and referred patients for gender reassignment surgery in disregard of international guidelines. Some of the allegations were successfully defended and Dr Reid remained on the Register.
- A Borough Council v (1) A, (2) B, (3) C, D & E (Children by their Guardian) & Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police  EWHC 1465 (Fam)
Guidance was given by the Court on the disclosure of information and documents obtained in family proceedings and the use that can be made of such information by the police for child protection purposes.
- R (Cleary) v Highbury Magistrates’ Court, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1869 (Admin)
Junior Counsel in claim for judicial review in which guidance was given on disclosure and the procedure to be followed in closure order applications under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
- Hemsley v (1) The Information Commissioner (2) The Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police (March 2006) Claire appeared on behalf of the Chief Constable in this appeal to the Information Tribunal against the refusal by the police to disclose sensitive information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- Farag v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWCA Civ 1814 Successful appeal against a costs order.
- Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Hooper  EWHC 340 (Admin)
Successful challenge to the application of section 2(6) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
Claire has been consistently recommended by the directories as a leading junior. Recommended for clinical negligence, professional discipline and regulatory including police law and inquests and inquiries, the current edition of the Legal 500 notes that “clients know she gets results.”
Claire was The Times’ Lawyer of the Week in October 2012 following her involvement in a high profile application to the Court of Protection to withhold life-saving treatment from a patient who was severely brain damaged and in a minimally conscious state
Click here for press coverage
Clients comments include, “You never let me down!”, “Many thanks for your kind support and a great job done!”, “I am extremely grateful for your skilled help and representation at the hearing…I am certain that your preparation and execution of my defence on the day was the key to a successful outcome…”; “I was impressed with the manner which you acted on my behalf being very calm, professional and just simply excellent!”
Other recent directory editorial has included the following:
- her ability to master the detail of a case is almost second to none;
- she is just a brilliant advocate;
- an exceptional advocate – powerful on her feet, excellent at tactics and considerate but firm with clients;
- always pays meticulous attention to detail;
- she’s client-focused, well organised and just so impressive;
- she is consistently brilliant;
- Claire always has a grasp of the detail of the case and a clear focus on the arguments to deploy to achieve the very best outcome;
- thorough, diligent and empathetic with vulnerable clients;
- highly regarded for her astute tactical approach to cases;
- any time I’ve seen her on her feet she has been excellent. I’ve also been really impressed with her written work;
- she is on the ball in terms of which points to take and which not to take;
- takes a very pragmatic approach and is very good in tricky inquests;
- a very down-to-earth yet extremely able adviser and advocate with a nuanced approach. Ideal for the more sensitive cases;
- her aptitude for understanding clinical issues is exceptional;
- her cross-examinations are well structured;
- a great tactician who stands her ground firmly yet courteously;
- her submissions [are] well reasoned, persuasive and measured;
- she fiercely safeguards the interests of her clients;
- she’s empathetic with clients and is an innovative thinker;
- when cross-examining expert witnesses, she has a real knack of asking the right questions;
- she is extremely good with strategic and novel cases and provides very clear, strategic and balanced advice;
- a very effective advocate who is very calm, knowledgeable;
- a real force to be reckoned with;
- she’s excellent on complex cases;
- she has a very impressive knowledge of inquest law and a calming and effective way with witnesses;
- her advocacy skills are excellent;
- she’s razor-sharp;
- has great attention to detail;
- her advocacy skills are excellent;
- she’s fearless in court;
- very pragmatic and responsive;
- has a practical, no-nonsense style;
- certainly a leading practitioner;
- the advice she gives is always sensible;
- very user-friendly and an excellent advocate.
- has fantastic attention to detail;
- an extremely businesslike, efficient operator;
- she has a very good command of the detail;
- picks up on things that previously you had not considered;
- very down to earth, and easy to deal with;
- her advocacy is absolutely excellent;
- fiercely protective of her client;
- she thinks of everything and has all the makings of a star;
- reasonable, helpful and extremely courteous, while fiercely safeguarding the interests of her client;
- well regarded for her work on behalf of medical and dental practitioners in regulatory proceedings;
- her advocacy is crisp, polished and intelligent;
- her written advice impeccable;
- in any given situation, you are likely to consider Claire to be the smartest person in the room;
- very down to earth, and easy to deal with;
- she’s tactically very sharp;
- highly regarded for her astute tactical approach to cases;
- her analytical skills are highly tuned;
- you know that when you go to her for advice it’s going to be of good quality;
- she’s gone from strength to strength and she can apply her mind to various areas of law;
- accurate, articulate, and highly accessible;
- able to respond to queries and concerns quickly and effectively;
- she is good with clients;
- a combination of confident advocacy and good tactics;
- whether it be an inquest, employment or healthcare matter, she knows it all inside-out;
- absolutely first class when it comes to large-scale dental matters… due to her attention to detail and impressive command of the clinical background in a case;
- she is tenacious, driven and good at dealing with even the most complex cases with challenging clients;
- thoughtful, thorough, pragmatic and calm throughout everything;
- she genuinely cares for clients and that shines in her demeanour and work;
- highly regarded for her astute tactical approach to cases;
- further praised for her manner with often difficult clients;
- boast an impressive practice acting on behalf of medical and police professionals; and
- thoroughly pleasant, remarkably intelligent, quick-witted and always in control.
At school my teachers said I talked too much in class. It’s great to be able to put that to good use as a barrister. I feel privileged to be able to do this job as I know I can make a real difference to the lives of those I represent.
I fight for the interests of my clients with the fervour I would expect from someone representing me. The human interaction and teamwork at the heart of my practice is really what makes being a barrister so rewarding.
“I know I can make a real difference to the lives of those I represent”
As a barrister, no two days are the same. I am constantly learning and developing my knowledge and skills and it is particularly satisfying to be able to delve into fascinating areas of medicine, dentistry and policing practice as well as developing areas of law and to apply that in a practical way to achieve the best possible outcome for my clients.
Co-author of Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law (3rd Edition)
• Professional Negligence Bar Association
• Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers
• London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
1996 – 1999: St Hugh’s College, Oxford University, BA Jurisprudence
1989 – 1996: St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School
Claire adopts and adheres to the provisions of her privacy notice which can be accessed here.
For further details of Claire’s practice please click on the links to the left or contact a member of the clerking or client service team.
Bar Council Membership No: 42873
Registered Name: Claire Elizabeth Watson
VAT Registration No: 802124191