Oliver Williamson

Call 2008

Oliver Williamson | Call 2008

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In police regulatory work Oliver has developed a specialist practice presenting cases on behalf of Appropriate Authorities in misconduct proceedings and has appeared for the presenting side in cases against officers ranking from PC to Chief Constable.  Oliver also has an established disciplinary and regulatory practice in the medical sphere, and regularly represents doctors and dentists in fitness to practise hearings in the GMC and GDC. Oliver was Junior Counsel in the important case of Southall v GMC in the Court of Appeal and appeared in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in Edwards v Chesterfield Hospital.

Professional Discipline & Regulatory

“You can have a full and frank debate with him about how to approach something and he has great technical know-how.”
Chambers & Partners

Oliver appears for the Appropriate Authority in police misconduct proceedings concerning allegations of sexual harassment made by female Detective constables and sergeants against a Detective Inspector.
Click here for press coverage.

Police Misconduct

Oliver appeared in the high profile cases of the chief constable and deputy chief constable of Cleveland Police and both associated Judicial Reviews arising therefrom. More recently he has presented cases against a number of officers of ranks between constable and inspector alleged to have abused their powers and authority for sexual advantage.

Oliver was led (by John Beggs KC) on behalf of the police authority in the gross misconduct prosecution against chief constable of Cleveland Police, Sean Price.  The panel (chaired by Joanna Greenberg KC) found the chief constable guilty of dishonesty (including suborning his personal assistant) and dismissed him. He was the first Chief Constable to be dismissed since 1977. Prior to the case coming to the substantive hearing Oliver was led by John in resisting an attempt to quash the decision to proceed in the Administrative Court before Irwin J on 21 September 2012. The police authority were successful.

Oliver also acted (led by John Beggs KC) in the prosecution of the deputy chief constable of Cleveland, Derek Bonnard, for gross misconduct, including in the judicial review before Leggatt J on various issues of statutory interpretation.  Bonnard had been arrested on 3 August 2011 and was subsequently dismissed.

Healthcare Discipline

Very early in his career Oliver acted for a doctor in a substantial 5 week FTPP hearing in which the doctor faced 35 charges including dishonesty, inadequate performance and misconduct, the vast majority of which were denied. The GMC, represented by a leading KC, submitted that the doctor should be erased from the medical register and as part of their case called in excess of 20 witnesses including senior and highly-regarded consultants. Despite no defence witnesses other than the doctor being called, a number of charges were not found proved and a period of suspension was imposed by the panel.

Oliver was instructed in the GMC as Junior Counsel for controversial paediatrician Dr David Southall who was one of the UK’s leading experts in child protection work.  Dr Southall faced charges relating to his keeping of special case files separate from hospital records. Dr Southall was found not guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Oliver has appeared on behalf of numerous doctors facing dishonestly allegations relating to job and training post applications, prescription fraud and amendment of medical records.

Oliver has appeared before internal trust disciplinary panels and at medical performers list hearings.

cases & work of note

  • R (Sean Price) v The Cleveland Police Authority and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (CO/9583/2012).
    On 21 September 2012 Oliver represented the CPA (led by John Beggs KC) in judicial review challenge by former Cleveland chief constable Price. Mr Price objected to the CPA’s decision to refer him to a police misconduct hearing whilst he remained the subject of a complex criminal investigation (Operation Sacristy) on the basis that any criminal proceedings would be prejudiced. Irwin J dismissed Mr Price’s claim.
  • R (Derek Bonnard) v Ms Drusilla Sharpling CBE and Cleveland Police Authority (CO/12230/2012).
    On 16 November 2012 Oliver represented the Cleveland Police Authority (led by John Beggs KC) in judicial review challenge by Cleveland Police deputy chief constable Bonnard against the misconduct panel chair’s direction that the misconduct case against him commence on 20 November 2012. Leggatt J provided guidance on the interpretation of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 and granted a stay of the initial case management decision of the panel chair and remitted the case to the chair for further directions.
  • Southall v General Medical Council [2010] EWCA Civ 407; [2010] Fam Law 699; [2010] EWCA Civ 484;[2010] All ER (D) 24 (May).
    Junior counsel representing Dr Southall: successful appeal to the Court of Appeal from the High Court on the issue of inadequate reasons for findings. Oliver acted as junior counsel for one of the UK’s leading experts in child protection at the second appeal stage and permission for a second appeal was successfully argued before the Court of Appeal. The substantive appeal also succeeded. The judgment is an important authority on the issue of reasons to be given by misconduct panels [2010] EWCA Civ 407 and [2010] EWCA Civ 484. The case was remitted to the original FTP Panel on matters not argued before the Court. In September 2011 Dr Southall was found not guilty of serious professional misconduct.
  • Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Botham v Ministry of Defence [2011] UKSC 58; [2012] 2 WLR 55; [2012] 2 All ER 278; [2012] 2 AC 22.
    Junior counsel for Edwards in successful second appeal to the Court of Appeal ([2010] EWCA Civ 571) concerning entitlement to damages for findings of misconduct made in hospital trust disciplinary proceedings conducted in breach of contract. Junior counsel in the Supreme Court which focussed on the extent to which the statutory unfair dismissal regime displaces a common law cause of action.  Oliver was junior counsel for Mr Edwards in the successful second appeal to the Court of Appeal ([2010] EWCA Civ 571) concerning entitlement to damages for findings of misconduct made in hospital trust disciplinary proceedings conducted in breach of contract.
  • Junior counsel in the Supreme Court ([2011] UKSC 58) which focussed on the extent to which the statutory unfair dismissal regime displaces a common law cause of action. The majority of the seven Justices held that it was necessary to infer from the statutory background that (unless otherwise agreed) breach of a contractual disciplinary procedure would not give rise to a claim for common law damages.


“Oliver has a balanced tone in his advocacy and real authority. His cross-examination was effective and he struck a good balance between being reasonable and bringing a strong challenge.”
Chambers & Partners

“Oliver is a highly technical junior and a strong advocate, with great client care and communication skills.”
The Legal 500

“Oliver is a very well prepared, knowledgeable individual who puts clients and witnesses at ease. He has a pleasant and approachable style of advocacy which gets the best out of witnesses.”
Chambers & Partners

“He has a thoroughly professional approach, and delivers advice in a manner which is effective but not overly complicated, which really benefits lay clients.”
The Legal 500

“Without doubt one of the most talented juniors in his field. His attention to detail is second to none, and he has an exceptional ability to deal with lay clients with empathy but at the same time firmness when needed. He is a QC in the making, without doubt.”
Chambers & Partners

“He has a lovely advocacy style: it’s very low-key and measured, and the judges really like it. He is thoughtful, smart and switched on.”
Chambers & Partners

‘He is an excellent, hard-working barrister who is careful and precise in his work. He has excellent attention to detail and is very patient with clients. He has a fantastic ability to support clients through difficult circumstances.’
The Legal 500

“He’s got good judgement and a nice easy manner in his questioning.”
Chambers & Partners

“A brilliant advocate.”
Chambers & Partners

“He has good judgement and a nice manner. He is personable with clients and effective in cross-examination.”
Chambers & Partners

“He does an amazing job in terms of analysis.”
Chambers & Partners

“I’ve been impressed by him. He works very hard.”
Chambers & Partners

“His advocacy is very good.”
Chambers & Partners

“Impressive on the advocacy side, he has intellectual weight and understanding of the police operational context.”
Chambers & Partners

“An excellent junior with a very good eye for detail. He deals with a lot of peripheral issues in a very flexible way and has a quick turnaround time.”
Chambers & Partners