In re PC M, the Panel Chair commended Claire for her cross-examination of the officer saying that she “really brought out his true character.”
Claire Watson represents the Metropolitan Police in the inquests into the death of 30 British nationals who died during a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia
experience & expertise
Claire has extensive experience representing the police in inquests, which are often sensitive and high-profile, and has also been instructed in judicial review claims covering a range of issues. She is currently instructed to advise the Metropolitan Police Service on evidence and procedure in the inquest into the deaths of the British nationals killed during the terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia.
Her public law practice to date has centred around challenges to the execution of search warrants and the decisions of magistrates in police-led applications such as Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Closure Orders in addition to matters relating to disclosure, where issues of public interest immunity and/or confidentiality arise.
Claire also undertakes a broad range of advisory work from advice in civil claims and police-led applications in the magistrates’ court to operational advice on matters such as the participation of the police in an NHS scheme through which potentially violent patients could be seen by medical professionals with a police presence.
Chambers & Partners notes that Claire is “tactically very sharp, her analytical skills are highly tuned and you know that when you go to her for advice it’s going to be of good quality.” and ‘Highly regarded for her astute tactical approach to cases.’
cases & work of note
- Tunisia Inquests
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. Claire is instructed on behalf of the Metropolitan Police to advise on procedure, evidence (gathered both in the UK and abroad) and disclosure ahead of these concurrent inquests.
- In Amenas Inquests
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.
- Mr X v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (October 2016)
Claire recently advised the Metropolitan Police regarding police powers of retention of an 8th century artefact in a threatened claim under the Torts (Wrongful Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
- 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
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). Claire represented the Metropolitan Police in an 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rabess v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 208 (Admin)
Challenge to the prohibitions included in an ASBO.
- 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)
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
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.
- Tunisia Inquests