Brian Altman QC has been appointed leading counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.
The appointment does not affect Brian’s existing caseload or his other professional commitments, and he remains able to accept new instructions. For further information please click here.
Brian Altman QC’s principal area of practice is serious crime, such as terrorism and homicide, but his main specialisms are fraud and bribery, as well as corporate governance, compliance and regulatory work.
A large part of his practice is advising prominent private and corporate clients, as well as the UK Government, on a wide range of high profile and esoteric issues. Brian’s clients have included several high net worth individuals, foreign multinational corporations and UK PLCs, and other organisations, as well as a Middle Eastern Royal Family. Typically, his instructions emanate from well-known and respected City solicitors, but also from in-house Counsel. Brian has long and successful experience as leading counsel in the most serious, high profile cases, and has headed and advised teams of lawyers and investigators countless times over several years.
In June 2013, Brian ended his highly successful tenure as Treasury Counsel at the Old Bailey, having been Treasury Counsel for some 16 years, the last two-and-a-half of which had been as First Senior Treasury Counsel. During that time he advised on, and prosecuted, some of the best-known cases of the day such as the case of John Downey, alleged to be an IRA man guilty of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, who had erroneously received a comfort letter indicating he was not wanted in the UK; the notorious abduction and murder of Milly Dowler; and the Birmingham suicide bomb plot.
Over the years Brian has consistently been acknowledged to be ‘a leader in his field’ by both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. In 2007, Brian was nominated by Chambers & Partners as ‘Crime Junior of the Year’ and in 2011 as ‘Crime Silk of the Year’. In 2013, Brian was also nominated by Legal 500 as ‘Crime Silk of the Year’. Brian has also been recently selected by Lawyer Monthly as outright winner of the 2015 “White Collar Crime Barrister of the Year – UK”.
The Times named Brian in its law 100 list as one of the country’s 100 most influential lawyers. He was also listed by The London Evening Standard in the law section of the list of London’s 1000 most influential people for 2011, and in 2012 he was named by The London Evening Standard as one of London’s top three “Golden Legal Eagles” in crime.
The case of R v Ash-Smith was one of two historic cases recently featured in Episode 3 of the BBC4 documentary series “The Prosecutors” in which cameras were allowed into court buildings for the first time. The program in which Brian was interviewed followed milestones in the preparation and prosecution of the case to its successful conclusion. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b072wyvj/the-prosecutors-real-crime-and-punishment-3-the-trial.
Media agencies often ask Brian for his opinion and input on current legal affairs, and he has been quoted and mentioned in many media articles. By way of example: in a recent Channel 4 News online article by Patrick Worrall “Why is there no courtroom drama like the real thing” which deals with the issue of cameras in the courtroom. See: http://www.channel4.com/news/why-there-is-no-courtroom-drama-like-the-real-thing.
In the article Patrick said of Brian:
“Court reporters sit around and argue over top prosecutors the way that fight fans talk about boxers. Who’s the best, pound-for-pound? We all had our favourites. Mine was Brian Altman QC, vanquisher of Milly Dowler’s repulsive killer Levi Bellfield, among others. Mr Altman is an expert cross-examiner, breaking down the hardest of the hard men with patient, remorseless logic, trapping them with their own lies.”
Brian was also interviewed by Clive Coleman, the BBC legal affairs correspondent, for the Radio 4 Today programme broadcast on 4 April 2013 about the end of his tenure as First Senior Treasury Counsel and the workings of the Treasury Counsel system. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22024261.
He has been quoted in a BBC online article about televising court proceedings: See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17691667.
Brian has also been quoted in a BBC online article about forensics: See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11794286.
He was recently involved in two diplomatic missions to Oman to participate in workshops with Beyond Borders and the British Council to address with the Omani Attorney General and local prosecutors issues of public order, bribery, corruption and anti-money laundering.
In October 2014, Brian gave a talk to lawyers and insurers at the 2014 Meeting of the Swedish International Chamber of Commerce Financial Services and Insurance Group, which was held in London at the offices of DWF Fishburns, on “The UK Approach to FATCA Disclosure Liabilities and Client Confidentiality”.
Brian has appeared in courts up to and including the Supreme Court.
Brian has prosecuted and advised the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) and the Attorney General in many serious cased both as Treasury Counsel and since involving:
Brian’s defence work is highly regarded. He was instructed privately by David Sonn of Sonn Macmillan Walker to represent a businessman, RF, at Snaresbrook Crown Court in September and October 2015. RF was accused of a large-scale drugs conspiracy. RF was acquitted following successful arguments regarding the admissibility of evidence which led to RF’s discharge on one of two counts he faced on the indictment, and he was finally discharged on the remaining count following a successful submission of no case at the close of the prosecution case.
In 2015, Brian was instructed privately by Ian Kelcey of Kelcey & Hall of Bristol to represent LW, one of four serving police officers, accused of misconduct in public office arising from a high profile murder case in Bristol in July 2013. Brian’s client was acquitted by the jury unanimously after a seven week trial at Bristol Crown Court which ended just before Christmas 2015.
In June 2017, Brian, who was instructed privately by Ian Kelcey of Kelcey & Hall of Bristol, secured the acquittal of GD, a former senior police chief in Avon & Somerset, who was accused of sexually assaulting women on cross country trains in the west country. GD had been accused by 3 women of 5 sexual assaults, but, following a 5 day trial at Bristol Crown Court, the jury acquitted GD of all the charges.
He is regularly instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division to prosecute terrorism offences including, most recently, those arising from the conflict in Syria, and by Complex Casework Units of the Crown Prosecution Service in a variety of high profile, difficult, and often historic, homicide cases.
Brian has recently led for the defence in:
Selective high-profile terrorism and organised crime trials in which Brian has led for the prosecution include:
Brian has in the past advised the SFO in headline cases, and the FCA in a high profile insider dealing case, and has defended, and advised, in large-scale fraud including mortgage and tax fraud, insider dealing and other serious fraud and corruption cases.
Brian has advised in and prosecuted some of the biggest homicide cases of the day, and continues to do so as well as defend. He is currently instructed to lead for the prosecution in an application to overturn an acquittal and seek a retrial in a notorious case from 1987.
Brian has been instructed in several defence homicide cases, including privately.
Selective past high-profile trials in which Brian has led include:
Some of Brian’s past high-profile homicide cases include:
While Brian’s main area of practice is in serious crime, in the main his practice sees him regularly advising both private and corporate clients across a wide and esoteric range of commercial activities and issues.
In addition to significant high net worth individuals, and household name corporations, Brian is currently retained by the Competition & Markets Authority, formerly the Office of Fair Trading, in a high-profile cartel investigation.