*Cathryn McGahey QC

Call 1990 Silk 2016

*Cathryn McGahey QC

Practice Overview

I specialise in immigration, national security, prison law, public inquiries and inquests. I was junior counsel to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry from 2000 to 2010. I became a special advocate in 2008 and was appointed in 2012 to the Attorney General’s A Panel. In 2013 I became a member of the Welsh Government’s A Panel. I was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2016..

I have appeared in some of the leading immigration cases in recent years, including the Detention Action challenges to the Detained Fast Track system for asylum seekers and in a number of cases relating to the rights of Gurkhas’ dependants to settle in the UK.

I have a particular interest in, and wide experience of, judicial review challenges to government policy.

I have represented both the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Justice Board in inquests into deaths in custody, including several murders and the self-inflicted deaths in custody of three children.

As a leading special advocate, I represented the only successful appellant in the Operation Pathway Manchester bomb plot case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. I also, as junior special advocate, appeared in a successful challenge to the Government’s proposed Deportation With Assurances of an Ethiopian national.

I represented the Secretary of State in a challenge by three individuals, alleged to be leading members of the proscribed organisation Al-Muhajiroun, against the decision to impose TPIM notices on them. The Secretary of State’s decision was upheld.

I have extensive inquiry experience. As well as being junior counsel to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry for ten years, I represented “whistleblowing” soldiers in the Al Sweady Inquiry and was co-counsel to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which investigated physical and sexual abuse of children in the care of the States of Jersey. In 2016 I acted as counsel to the Bulk Powers Review conducted by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. I am currently leading counsel for the Department for Education in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and leading counsel for the Home Office in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Notable and Reported cases

  • Professional Memberships
    • Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association
    • Human Rights’ Lawyers Association
    • Professional Negligence Bar Association
  • Languages
    • Working knowledge of French and Welsh
  • Recommendations
    • "An extremely gifted and very diligent lawyer." "She works with extreme ingenuity, flexibility and care on her clients' behalf." (Chambers UK, 2022 - Administrative & Public Law)
    • "A calm, sensible counsel with a very good court style. She is extremely popular with government departments." "She's very approachable, flexible in how she deals with cases, and clients really like her." (Chambers UK, 2022 - Inquests & Public Inquiries)
    • Listed in Chambers and Partners for inquests and public inquiries.
    • …She is developing a particular specialism in cases concerning child protection.
      Strengths: “She has an extraordinary capacity to get on top of the details in a short amount of time.” “She is a very impressive advocate and also a very decent person.” “She is effective and extremely hard-working.” Chambers & Partners 2018
    • “Routinely instructed as counsel to large public inquiries, she also demonstrates great aptitude when appearing on behalf of participants. She is a skilled representative of state agents in inquests, and has a particular focus on proceedings involving deaths in custody.”
      Strengths: “She is exceptionally bright and an excellent advocate.” “A really nice manner when conducting proceedings, which is ideal for harrowing inquiries.” “She is a master at acting for an inquiry and managing a large case.” “Extremely deft witness-handling, she is very astute, strategically minded and calm in court.” Chambers & Partners 2017
    • Listed in the Legal 500 2017 as a 2016 silk in the fields of immigration, civil liberties and human rights and inquests and inquiries.
    • Listed in the Legal 500 from 2010 as a leading immigration junior and from 2011 as a leading civil liberties and human rights junior.
    • “Very impressive; she surely has a bright future as silk”: Legal 500 2017 (civil liberties and human rights)
    • “Highly regarded”: Legal 500 2017 (immigration)
    • “Noted for both public inquiries and inquests”: Legal 500 2017 (inquests and inquiries)
    • “Able to draw on broad public law expertise”: Legal 500 2016
    • “She has a buoyant immigration and police law practice”: Legal 500 2016
    • “Well regarded for her work on Bloody Sunday”: Legal 500 2007
    • “Extremely hard working and very able”: Legal 500 2006
*Cathryn McGahey QC
"An extremely gifted and very diligent lawyer." "She works with extreme ingenuity, flexibility and care on her clients' behalf."Chambers UK, 2022