Ian Skelt KC

Call 1994 | Silk 2020


Ian is a highly experienced silk with extensive experience in police law, all aspects of inquest law, administrative law, employment law and regulatory work. A member of the Government’s ‘A’ Panel for civil work (NI), he is well known for his compelling advocacy and comprehensive knowledge of his brief.  He represented West Yorkshire Police in the Supreme Court in a review of civil liability of the police for operational activity and was Counsel to the Coroner in the Jordan Inquest.

Ian is clerked primarily by Lee Johnson, Clare Sabido, Jennifer Pooler and Emma Bell.

Ian appears in Court of Appeal case concerning enhanced criminal record certificates. Judgment awaited: 19th October 2017.

Ian appears in Supreme Court in Robinson v West Yorkshire Police. Judgment awaited. Likely to be the most important case on police civil liability in decades: July 2017.

Experience & Expertise

Ian is a well-known silk with a proven track record of being instructed in serious and complex cases.  He has extensive advocacy experience, the first period of his career involving heavy criminal work before moving to specialise in civil law. He enjoys a practice that includes all aspects of police law, extensive inquest work (including healthcare), misconduct, public and administrative and employment law.

Whilst Ian has a broad practice within his specialist areas, he has a particular interest in long and complicated cases involving extensive advocacy. He is frequently instructed in cases against leading counsel.

Recommended by Chambers & Partners as a leading practitioner  for both contentious and non-contentious police law matters, Ian also deals with advisory points on non-contentious matters; his advisory work focuses particularly on practice and procedure as well as issues arising from new legislation.

In the area of policing, Ian is frequently instructed in cases of the utmost sensitivity including covert policing and other state agencies. Ian has had ‘DV’ status for many years. He has, for example, acted in a series of cases concerning the alleged removal of children from the jurisdiction by their parents

Ian also has an interest in healthcare law. He has acted for private healthcare providers in several recent inquests concerning, for example, deaths in specialist care homes, deaths in prisons, deaths of persons in the community receiving at-home care, and deaths resulting from erroneous administrations of medicines.

Ian is also called to the Bar of Northern Ireland. His work in NI has included acting as Counsel to the High Court Judge Coroner in the Jordan Inquest (as case that has involved 3 inquests, 25 judicial reviews, and hearings before the Court of Appeal, House of Lords and European Court), acting as Special Counsel in sensitive civil claims, is in several ‘Troubles’ cases including allegations of target killing by State Agents. He has also been instructed in recent public inquiries, including the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Ian is a member of the Crown Solicitor’s ‘A’ Panel for civil work (NI), a member of the Panel of Counsel instructed to act as Counsel to the Coroner. He is also on the Panel of Special Advocates and is member of the Bar Council International Committee.

Ian is down-to-earth and communicates easily with both lay and professional clients.

Cases & work of note

  • SD v Chief Constable of North Yorkshire [2017]
    Appeared for Chief Constable in Court of Appeal. Appeal from a High Court judicial review of discretionary disclosure of information on a ECRC. Judgment awaited.
  • Proctor v Chief Constable of Cleveland Police [2017] All ER (D) 120
    Acted for Chief Constable in appeal by animal rights activist in claim for unlawful arrest, detention, assault and damage to property.
  • Inquest into the death of Stephen Colwell.
    Fatal Police shooting. Instructed as Counsel to the Coroner. Case set to last approximately 7 to 8 weeks, currently ongoing.
  • Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [July 2017 – Supreme Court]
    Acted for Chief Constable (with J Johnson QC) in appeal concerning a review of the law of civil liability of police for operational activity and decision making.
  • Harrod v Chief Constable of West Midlands [2017] ICR 869
    Acted for 500+ Claimants in age discrimination claims against several police forces arising from mass compulsory retirements.
  • Lorenzo v Chief Constable of West Mercia [2017]
    Successfully defended Chief Constable in claims of perverting the course of justice, malicious prosecution, unlawful arrest and detention. Listed as a 3 week jury trial, case halted after cross examination of the Claimant.
  • B and C v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [2016]
    Acted for Chief Constable in ET and EAT. Protected disclosure claims by 2 officers in relation to undercover police work. Original ET hearing lasted in excess of a month.
  • ASD v FG [2016]
    Acted for Claimant in protected disclosure claims by former undercover officer. 3 week hearing.
  • C (Children) (Radicalisation) [2016] EWHC 3087 (Fam)
    Acted for Chief Constable in this and other similar family law cases. Wardship and care proceedings arising from the removal of children from the jurisdiction and allegations that families were moving to Syria to live under an extremist regime.
  • Marks v CC of West Midlands [2016]
    Successfully defended Chief Constable against extremely serious allegations of physical and sexual abuse, racism and other illegality. Case was a 3 week jury trial, all allegations being ultimately rejected by the jury.
  • Inquest into the death of X  [2015]
    Appeared for large private healthcare company at inquest concerning death of a 16 year old. Allegations of chronic lack of care. No criticism made of healthcare company in final outcome.
  • Kerr v Thomas Cook [2015] NIQB 9
    Acted for travel company in High Court claim for accident occurring in Tunisia. Leading case on civil liability of travel companies for accidents occurring out of the jurisdiction.
  • R. (on application of Peters) v CC of WYP  [2014] EWHC 1458 (admin)
    Acted for Chief Constable in judicial review of complaint investigation and appeal process.
  • PBD (and Ors) v CC GMP  [2013] EWHC Civ 3559
    Acted for Chief Constable in High Court. Claim brought by persons on witness protection scheme alleging breach of contract by Chief Constable.
  • T v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2013] 1 WLR 2515
    Court of Appeal decision re legality of regime of ECRB disclosure. Case subsequently heard by Supreme Court. Leading authority on such disclosures.
  • Inquests into the 7 July 2005 “7/7” bombings
    Instructed as First Junior Counsel on behalf of West Yorkshire Police.
  • R. (Sec. of State) v Asst. Deputy Coroner for Inner West London [2011] 1 W.L.R. 2564
    Exclusion of public from Inquest proceedings on grounds of national security.
  • Dowson and Others v Chief Constable for Northumbria Police [2010] EWHC 2612
    Acted for Chief Constable in a multi-claimant harassment action brought by a number of officers. 6 week high court trial, total claims exceeded £1.5m, costs over £2m. Case dismissed.
  • Armstrong v CC of West Yorks Police [2008] EWCA Civ 1582
    Acted for Chief Constable in Court of Appeal. One of the leading authorities on grounds of arrest
  • Hunter v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2009] EWCA Civ 1576
    Acted for Chief Constable in Court of Appeal. Leading authority for police liability for personal injuries sustained in police training exercises.


Always prepare for the end goal. It should always be assumed that every case is going to end up in a contested hearing before a court/tribunal. Making the right tactical decisions from the outset and having a clear path of travel is vital.

Take the clients with you. Most cases are a journey and it is vital to have the clients with you throughout the process. Establishing strong relationships from the outset and maintaining them to the end is vital to getting the right outcomes.

In every court, at every level, presenting the case with clarity and appropriate simplicity is a key to success

Dealing with their problem. Most cases usually involve a client with a serious problem. I have always enjoyed shouldering the burden whilst navigating the client into a position of strength.

Keep it simple. The real skill is making the complicated easy. In every court, at every level, presenting the case with clarity and appropriate simplicity is a key to success. It often takes an awful lot of work to get to that point, but it is time well spent.

Enthusiasm.  No two days are the same and as the work gets heavier it continues to provide novel challenges. Each and every case gets the same 100% commitment. After 20 years at the Bar this is still a career I thoroughly enjoy.


“Ian is a hugely impressive and reliable KC whose advice and advocacy are flawless. I instruct him in high-value, highly sophisticated and complex claims or those involving sensitive issues.”
Chambers & Partners

“Ian is firm but compassionate when dealing with emotive cases. He is very knowledgeable and an excellent advocate.”
Chambers & Partners

“A go-to barrister, he’s bright and razor-sharp, and for police misconduct he has significant knowledge.”
Chambers & Partners

“Ian is someone with a good eye for detail and he is good on the law.”
Chambers & Partners

“He is technically excellent and works well in the inquest space.”
Chambers & Partners

“Ian is a fantastic barrister. He is sharp and astute with good commercial awareness. His written advice is strong, and he is assured and robust in conference. His advocacy is very good, and he is confident and persuasive. He is also proactive in suggesting ways to advance the case.”
The Legal 500

“He is a good advocate and is very sensible on a personal level.”
Chambers & Partners

“He is a master: a really good lawyer in defence work.”
Chambers & Partners

“His knowledge is unsurpassed.”
Chambers & Partners

“His advocacy and legal knowledge are phenomenal. He is very approachable and quick to respond and has a collaborative and cooperative style.”
Chambers & Partners

“Ian is approachable, grounded and detailed in his approach. Both clients and witnesses feel at ease in his presence.”
The Legal 500

“He’s great on his feet and on the paperwork, and he can adjust his skill set to what is required, which is a real talent – he’ll put witnesses at their ease but then his cross-examination can be vicious.”
Chambers & Partners

“An incredibly able and knowledgeable barrister who is great to work with.”
Chambers & Partners

“He’s got a good breadth of knowledge and experience from the public law, criminal and misconduct sides. He is independently minded and principled, and he’s got a very calm, effective and well-judged advocacy style.”
Chambers & Partners

“Ian is approachable, grounded and detailed in his approach. Both clients and witnesses feel at ease in his presence.”
The Legal 500

‘An excellent negotiator, personable and very good with clients.’
The Legal 500

“His manner, both charming and resilient, allows him to deal with any problem with ease, provide accurate advice swiftly and confront any challenge head-on to get the right outcomes.”
Chambers & Partners

“He is first rate: he produces great paperwork and is excellent with witnesses, and is also great on the detail and at managing client expectations.”
Chambers & Partners

“He’s a big-hitting senior junior. He’s very calm, measured and never flustered in difficult situations. He has very good judgement as to what goes to the heart of a case.”
Chambers & Partners

“He is able to explain complex matters in an approachable fashion. He is adept in managing his audience in often highly political situations.”
Chambers & Partners

“Technically sound, with thoroughness and a common-sense approach”
Chambers & Partners

“His written work is fantastic, and he is a very persuasive advocate”
Chambers & Partners


Ian adopts and adheres to the provisions of the privacy notice which can be accessed here.


For further details of Ian’s practice please contact a member of the clerking or client service team here.

Registered Name: Ian Stuart Skelt
VAT Registration No: 667 8631 84