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Jeffrey Israel

"A tenacious advocate"Legal 500 2016

Call 2000

Practice Profile

Jeffrey acted on a Bar Direct Access basis in the successful appeal of Alexander Blackman – known as ‘Marine A’, who was convicted of murdering a dying Taliban insurgent whilst on active service in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

In March 2017 after a legal battle lasting almost 2 years, Jeffrey being led by Jonathan Goldberg QC and leading Senghin Kong succeeded in winning on appeal the historic case of Marine A, acting Colour Sergeant Alexander Blackman of the Royal Marines. He had been convicted by court-martial in 2013 of murdering a wounded Taliban terrorist on a battlefield in Afghanistan and had been sentenced to life imprisonment together with reduction to the ranks and dismissal from the Armed Forces with disgrace. An appeal against conviction brought in 2014 by his old legal team had failed completely.

Following a public campaign waged by wife Claire Blackman and supported notably by Richard Drax MP and the author Frederick Forsyth, a report of almost 100 pages was written by the new counsel and submitted to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in December 2015.

Once an appeal has been tried and failed, this body represents the only possible route to challenge a miscarriage of justice. However, the CCRC refer less than 3% annually of all the cases they receive back to the Court of Appeal for a new hearing, and therefore it is a formidable mountain to climb. The legal team identified no less than six grounds on which they felt themselves obliged to criticise the conduct of the court-martial by the Judge Advocate General, the prosecution, and the old defence team.

In December 2016 in their Statement of Reasons of some 70 pages, the CCRC upheld three of these grounds as constituting a real possibility that the Court of Appeal would overturn the murder verdict, and referred the case back to the Court of Appeal. Shortly thereafter an expedited hearing was ordered by the Lord Chief Justice on the first of these grounds only, namely the psychiatric ground, on the basis that if this ground failed there would then need to be a much longer future hearing on appeal to decide the remaining five grounds.

Since however this first ground succeeded to reduce murder to manslaughter, thus leading to the Sergeant`s almost immediate release from prison and the quashing of his life sentence, there was no need to litigate the remaining grounds at all. In addition, his dismissal with disgrace from the Armed Forces was rescinded to simple dismissal, and his reduction to the ranks was quashed, such that he remains entitled again to call himself Sgt and he retains his pension rights.

In addition Jeffrey has been instructed both as a leading junior as well as junior alone in a wide range of serious criminal matters. He has considerable experience in the conduct of cases of murder, firearms offences, serious violence, sex offences, drug importation and money laundering cases. He is well liked by clients who admire his robust handling of their cases and his fearless approach in Court.

Current cases include another Direct Access referral to the CCRC of a fraud conviction from 20 years ago, the private defence of a multi-millionaire for an alleged assault in Harrod’s Food Hall, a large scale insurance fraud, 13 armed robberies of bookmakers, an attempted ‘gangland’ murder, a ‘gangland’ blackmail, false imprisonment and GBH, the possession with intent to supply 3kgs of heroin, an alleged gang-rape of a 14 year old girl. 

Recent cases include an increasing amount of Direct Access instructions. These include representing a former manager of Tottenham Hotspur FC for speeding, a firearms case, a marital rape case, the theft of £400,000 from his own family by a compulsive gambler, as well as a number of other cases – including appeals and Magistrates’ Court cases – where Jeffrey has been instructed directly enabling him to oversee every aspect of the case which offers particular reassurance to his clients.

Other recent instructions include defending a Rabbi for a variety of historic sex offences, the murder of a lorry driver in a drunken attack, an £8m conspiracy to supply heroin, a large-scale nationwide cocaine conspiracy involving 11 defendants, a conspiracy to transfer loaded machine-guns by defendants in prison, a multi-handed murder allegation arising out of a 'drug war' in a case that involved the US authorities, a multi-million pound Serious Fraud Office case involving the creation of false identities and bank accounts that are then used to defraud HMRC, the shooting at a uniformed police officer in the course of an armed robbery, human-trafficking for the purpose of forced prostitution, a gang-related firearms case where over 100 guns, grenades, and live ammunition were being supplied across the country and a large-scale importation of cocaine from South America.

As well as being a specialist criminal defence barrister, Jeffrey has a particular interest in Civil Actions against the Police, Judicial Reviews and Public Inquests. He is also regularly instructed to advise charities such as MENCAP, National Autistic Society and Guide Dogs for the Blind on matters of potential criminal liability, including in Court of Protection proceedings. He has lectured in this field on topics such as ‘Capacity to Consent to Sex, a Civil and a Criminal Perspective’ and as such has particular expertise in this field.

Jeffrey is able to accept instructions direct from the public in appropriate cases. For further information in this regard please contact the Senior Clerk.

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