John Beggs KC

Call 1989 | Silk 2009

John Beggs KC | Call 1989 | Silk 2009

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John Beggs KC is a sought-after silk. He is recommended as a Star Individual by Chambers & Partners, which records that “he is probably the best cross-examiner outside the Criminal Bar” and that “he is so respected that it is normally a fight between authorities and defence lawyers to see who can approach him first to represent their clients.”  He has helped shape police law in the UK, appearing in many key cases of recent years, especially in the field of police inquests,  police misconduct and vetting issues. Clients cited by Chambers & Partners note that “just his presence alone is enough to make an impact” and this makes him a strong choice for the negotiation of early and advantageous settlement in appropriate cases.

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

“Tactically astute, impressive with clients and head and shoulders above the rest, he is the guy to go to.” 
Chambers & Partners

John is currently shortlisted as the Professional Discipline and Regulatory Silk of the Year at the 2024 UK Bar Awards, having won twice before.
Click here for details.

Experience & Expertise

An acclaimed advocate and trial tactician, John’s expertise spans a wide range of legal fields encompassing civil and criminal litigation, inquests, public inquiries, investigations, judicial reviews, employment and disciplinary proceedings.  He combines thorough preparation and unswerving commitment to clients.  Solicitors cited by Chambers & Partners note that he is “the leader in any tough courtroom” and “the best QC in conference and simply the best cross-examiner in the business”.

He is particularly well regarded in the field of police law where he has appeared in many important cases over recent decade.  This includes the Marchioness, Leveson and Sturgess public inquiries and high profile inquests such as the 7/7 London Bombings, Deepcut, Hillsborough, Perepilichnyy, and Nicola Bulley, and many inquests into police shootings.  He has appeared in high profile civil trials (Rathband, Parker (“Barrymore”), Davis, Goodenough) and judicial review such as Salter, Woollard, Duggan, Mackail (“Plebgate”),Williams , W80, Aftab, Watson , Re JR249 and in Barnes.

John is one of the go-to counsel for advice on police operational matters in particular armed policing operations and public order operations.  He is co-author of Public Order: Law and Practice (OUP). He represented the MPS in the May Day case (the first containment case, which reached the European Court of Human Rights) and was also instructed in the Laporte litigation which culminated in the House of Lords ruling considering pre-emptive arrest to prevent a breach of the peace. He is regularly instructed in cases involving political protest.

John has twice been awarded Chambers & Partners Professional Discipline Silk of the Year and is shortlisted again this year. He is the co-author of the leading book on the subject in the police field: Police Misconduct, Complaints and Regulation (OUP). He designs and delivers training programmes for the College of Policing in this field.

John has been instructed as prosecuting counsel in numerous disciplinary cases involving chief police officers (including the prosecution of four chief constables and as defence counsel for numerous chief officers over the years).  He is also regularly retained by Police and Crime Commissioners in their disputes with chief constables.  He has appeared in three judicial reviews concerning PCC – Chief Constable disputes (Port,  Rhodes and Gilmour). He has advised PCCs in several s.38 PRSRA “removal of Chief Constable” processes. He has a particular experience in vetting and probation cases, including Victor v Chief Constable of West Mercia Police.

John acts for police services outside of the UK in the wider Commonwealth.

He also has a practice defending solicitors and barristers in regulatory proceedings.

John led the representation of a doctor before the Durham coroner in relation to three deaths for which the doctor had been acquitted of murder.

cases & work of note

  • Inquest into the death of William Smith 
    Leading Matthew Holdcroft, John acted for the Chief Constable of Kent in this inquest concerning the fatal shooting of the deceased, a traveller wanted on suspicion of murder and aggravated burglary. Determining that it has been a lawful killing, the jury concluded that, “armed police officers honestly believed that William Smith pointed a firearm at them. They believed that they needed to use force against him to defend themselves. It was reasonable and proportionate, due to the fact that he pointed a firearm at them, to use lethal force to shoot him.”
  • W80 v. IOPC, others intervening [2020] EWCA Civ 1301 
    John led James Berry for the National Police Chiefs’ Council as an Intervenor in the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court proceedings brought by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) against the Divisional Court’s decision in R (W80) v IOPC [2019] EWHC 2215 (Admin).
    The case arose out of the fatal police shooting of Jermaine Baker in 2015 and an IOPC investigation into the conduct of W80, who fired the fatal shot.  The case concerns the appropriate test for self-defence in police misconduct proceedings.
    See sample BBC press coverage here.
  • R (Chief Constable of BTP) v. Police Misconduct Panel [2023] EWHC 589 (Admin)
    John led Peter Laverack in challenge to approach of misconduct panel.
  • Watson v. Police Misconduct Panel 22/099678/01 (High Court of Northern Ireland)
    First decision in UK on a panel’s jurisdiction to consider pre-attestation misconduct.
  • R (Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire) v. Police Appeals Tribunal and Flint [2021] EWHC 1248 (Admin)  
    John led James Berry on this challenge to the PAT’s approach, inter alia, to sanction.
  • Inquest into the death of Leon Briggs, 2021 
    John led Aaron Rathmell for the Chief Constable in this lengthy inquest.
  • R (Short) v (1) Police Misconduct Tribunal (2) CC of Bedfordshire Police [2020] EWHC 385 (Admin)  
    John led Elizabeth Fox for the Chief Constable in this case concerning legally qualified chairs and bias. He also dealt with the associated misconduct case and inquest.
  • Gooodenough v. Thames Valley Police [2020] EWHC 695 (QB)  
    John defended the Chief Constable, leading Aaron Rathmell, in this High Court claim brought by the family of a man who died following his arrest after a short car chase. The officers were initially prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter.
    The High Court judge rejected the battery claim but upheld an Article 2 claim because the officers were not adequately prevented from conferring after the incident.  This was an important judgment on battery (and the application of Ashley) but also on the Article 2 point in a separate judgment, [2020] EWHC 1428 (QB).
    Analysis of the case is available here on our UK Police Law Blog.
  • Chief Constable of Bedfordshire v Supt L, 2020 
    John prosecuted Supt L for professional dishonesty.  This was a complicated case with numerous legal points arising over a 3 week hearing.
  • Agnew & Others v. Chief Constable of PSNI & NI Policing Board [2019] NICA 32 
    John led Aaron Rathmell in this class action involving c.3750 officers and civilians in respect of unpaid overtime for holiday pay, invoking the Working Time Directive.
  • Inquest into the death of Edir Da Costa, 2019 
    John led Cecily White for the Metropolitan Police Service in this inquest into the death of Edir Da Costa, who died after being restrained by police officers and choking on a package containing drugs. The jury returned a conclusion of Misadventure.
    Sample press coverage from the BBC here.
  • Chief Constable of Northumbria v (1) PAT (2) Barratt [2019] EWHC 3352 (Admin) 
    John led James Berry for the interested party in this case concerning sufficiency of reasons and the use of racist language by the officer.
    Sample press coverage from the BBC here.
  • Chief Constable of Northumbria v IOPC, November 2019 
    John acted for the Chief Constable challenging the IOPC’s determination that there was a case to answer.
  • Inquest into the death of Rashan Charles, 2018 
    John led Cecily White for the Metropolitan Police Service in the inquest into the death of Rashan Charles.  The deceased was restrained by police and a plastic package was later retrieved from his mouth. The jury found the death to have been accidental and that the deceased’s life had not been salvageable prior to the point at which a medical emergency was identifiable.
    See BBC News coverage here.
  • City of London Police v IOPC [2018] EWHC 2997 (Admin)  
    John led Pravin Fernandes in this challenge to the IOPC’s case to answer decision.
  • Inquest into the death of James Wilson, 2018
    John acted for Northumbria Police in the three week inquest into the death of James Wilson. Mr Wilson died three days after being shot by armed officers following a stand-off in South Shields in March 2016. The jury ruled by a majority that his death was a lawful killing with the IOPC concluding that: Sample press coverage from the BBC here.
  • Parker v Chief Constable of Essex Police [2018] EWCA 2788 (Civ) 
    John and Cecily White acted for Essex Police in the Court of Appeal and below in the claim brought by Michael Parker (aka Michael Barrymore) in respect of his arrest in June 2007 on suspicion of rape and murder following the death of Stuart Lubbock, who was found dead in his swimming pool, in March 2001.
    Essex Police won their appeal against the High Court decision that the claimant should be awarded more than nominal damages, which was unlawful because the arresting officer did not have the grounds for arrest in mind (the intended arresting officer having been delayed in traffic).  The Court of Appeal held that, since the claimant could and would have been arrested lawfully if the correct procedures had been followed, he had suffered no loss and was only entitled to nominal damages.
    This decision is of significance in relation to the level of damages payable in cases of false arrest.
    Analysis of the case is available on our UK Police Law Blog here with sample BBC coverage here.
  • Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire v. Police Appeals Tribunal [2018] EWCA Civ 34 
    John led Cecily White for the Chief Constable in this successful appeal of the Admin Court ruling on questions concerning res judicata in a police discipline case.
  • Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire v. Chief Constable of Cheshire, 2018
    John led Oliver Williamson in the prosecution of the Chief Constable of Cheshire on allegations of misconduct.
  • R (Gilmore) v Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire [2017] EWHC 2867 (Admin) 
    John led Aaron Rathmell for the Defendant Police and Crime Commissioner in this judicial review brought by the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police on discrete points of law, including whether the “appropriate authority” is required to make a “case to answer” decision regarding an officer who has retired or resigned from the police service.
    Click here for sample press coverage of the case.
  • Perepilichnyy inquest, 2016-2018
    John is leading Cecily White for Mrs Perepilichnyy in this inquest where Hermitage Capital Management alleged that the Mr Perepilichnyy was poisoned by agents of the Russian state in league with Russian gangsters.. The inquest involved complex medical and circumstantial evidence and was the subject of a public interest immunity application by the government and a judicial review to consider the same.
    Click here for sample BBC press coverage
  • Deepcut inquests, 2013- 2018
    John led Cecily White and Oliver Williamson on behalf of Surrey Police in the fresh inquests concerning the deaths at the Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, Surrey, of Private James and Private Benton in 1995 and Private Gray in 2001. In each case a conclusion of suicide was handed down.


John is one of Chambers & Partners’ Top 100 Silks and has been included in the Lawyer’s Hot 100 as one of “the best lawyers in the business”.  After winning Professional Discipline Silk of the Year at the UK Bar Awards twice, he was shortlisted again in 2022, and is ranked as Star Individual of the Police Law (mainly defendant) section of Chambers and Partners.  He is a band one silk for inquests and public inquiries and professional discipline and regulatory law. He is also ranked by the Legal 500 as a leading silk for these fields. Clients cited by the directories note that he is “absolutely fearsome, but thoroughly nice and totally straight” and “extremely quick in his thinking, to the point and knows his stuff. If you want someone to win your case, he’s the man”. 
Other recent directory editorial has included the following:

  • absolutely superb: very intelligent and utterly charming;
  • he is always the barrister a senior police officer wants whenever they are in difficulty;
  • an astute leader;
  • John is absolutely the first choice for police-related matters;
  • a super tactician;
  • head and shoulders above the rest;
  • his ability to digest cases and present all the key points succinctly is hugely impressive;
  • generally recognised as knowing everything there is to know about police law;
  • he is highly respected and his commitment to his clients is unwavering. John is an excellent tactician who provides pragmatic and careful advice;
  • a world-class cross-examiner who has a beautiful way of handling witnesses, and a great turn of phrase;
  • he is robust and will fight tooth and nail, employing every tactic at his disposal;
  • a tenacious advocate, whose meticulous preparation enables them to be the leading orator in court;
  • a brutal advocate whom you don’t want as your opponent;
  • perhaps the leading professional discipline silk in the jurisdiction;
  • considered the authority in policing law;
  • absolutely phenomenal;
  • in-depth knowledge of relevant case law;
  • his intellect is matched only by his formidable advocacy skill;
  • he advises to the highest standards on paper and in conference;
  • often appeared in the judgments of the authorities. This depth of understanding combined with years of contextual understanding of policing, makes (his) opinion the opinion of note;
  • his knowledge, approach and accessibility are all second to none;
  • absolutely at the top of his game: he’s such a details man and his strategic vision is superb. He just knows the area inside out and he knows how to win a case;
  • his knowledge on discipline is second to none, he is extremely intelligent and his advocacy is of the highest standard. Strategically he is incomparable;
  • his attention to detail, ability to recall and tactical approach are second to none;
  • he is a leader in the field;
  • widely considered to be at the top of his game and an authority on police misconduct. He is a pleasure to work with;
  • provides erudite opinions in an easily understood format;
  • a very persuasive and articulate advocate;
  • he is the leader of all silks in police law;
  • fearless when representing clients;
  • is the best cross-examiner in the field, sought out by many police officers;
  • tactically beyond reproach;
  • his work ethic is exceptional;
  • John is an extremely skilled cross-examiner; when he stands up to speak you can see that people listen;
  • you have to have untold levels of resilience to fight him off;
  • he always meets deadlines and responds to clients without delay;
  • he is Mr Police Law;
  • an excellent tactician who gives his clients pragmatic and cogent advice; 
    tactically astute;
  • impressive with clients;
  • just his presence alone is enough to make an impact;
  • he’s a brilliant jury advocate who presents very clearly;
  • top of the tree;
  • John is the consummate expert in the field of police law;
  • his commitment to his clients is unwavering;
  • first-class;
  • a leading counsel in his field;
  • he is highly respected for his inquests work;
  • offers excellent advocacy, careful preparation and phenomenal attention to detail;
  • very practical and extremely thorough;

As I enter my 28th year at the Bar, I never forget that to each client their case is the most important and requires the same level of energy, commitment and enthusiasm as the first case I took on during my pupillage.

My approach is carefully to map an overall strategy for the client to achieve their desired objective, and then to identify the tactical staging posts along that route.  This involves ensuring that the client fully understands both the legal context and the factual realities.  This may require challenging clients’ analyses, in their own best interests.

“I never forget that to each client their case is the most important”

Sheer hard work constitutes 90% of the road to success in most cases. I have often defended professional men and women in apparently hopeless cases where favourable results have been secured via painstaking analysis, evidential capture and effective challenge of the opposing case, whether in writing or cross-examination.

Further Information

For further details of John’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: 24565
Registered Name: John Peter Beggs
VAT Registration No: 524295447


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