Christine Agnew QC

Year of Call: 1992  Silk: 2015  


Overview


Christine Agnew QC is ranked in the Legal Directories as a leader in the three areas of Crime in which she practices – Financial Crime, Health and Safety and General Crime. She was nominated as “Crime Silk of the Year 2019” and, in the words of Chambers and Partners -“She really is first class.”

Described in the most recent Legal 500 as an “outstanding advocate” her complete commitment to her client’s cause is summed up by the Legal 500 2019 which says of her that “she never shies away from a fight” but at the same time she is described as “tactically astute.” The Legal 500 goes on to describe her  as “an excellent trial advocate.”

She conducts the most serious and complex criminal cases as leading counsel for both the defence and the prosecution. Her practice covers the full range of criminal work and she has very considerable experience in relation to allegations involving murder, manslaughter, serious sexual offences and other serious criminal offences.

Christine has wide experience of dealing with complex and expert evidence from involved Health and Safety allegations to “baby-shaking” and infant non-accidental injury cases. The Directories have described her as a “highly regarded silk with a vast criminal practice prosecuting and defending the most serious heavyweight criminal matters including murder….”

She is used to conducting extensive cross-examination of medical professionals, technical expert witnesses and other scientific evidence making it accessible for juries: this is  summed up by the Directory description of her as someone “who is trusted by judges and juries alike.”

Christine regularly appears in all types of heavy-weight fraud cases. She specialises in cases of corruption, money laundering and other serious financial crime. She represented the only defendant to be acquitted in the first prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office under the Bribery Act.

She has a reputation as being an extremely hard working and able defence advocate who is exceptionally good with clients with the Directories having described her as “…great with clients”, “she is very gentle and considerate with clients” and “clients love her.” The Directories also note however, that “…she’s not a soft touch” and that “her effortless manner belies her steely determination”.

Whether as a prosecutor or when instructed for the defence she is frequently instructed in a case from the earliest possible stage assisting in making important tactical decisions. She is consultative, proactive and accessible to all in the team. As the Directories note she is both “tactically astute and level-headed.”

Christine has an extensive health and safety law practice prosecuting and defending in the most high profile of cases. She has prosecuted several cases involving fatalities that have required detailed specialist knowledge in the fields of construction, dangerous liquids, highways and crowd control.

She has considerable experience of coroners’ inquests.

She appears before Police Disciplinary and Appeal Tribunals.

Christine is authorised to accept instructions from members of the public in certain circumstances.

Advisory


Christine is often instructed to advise individuals before charge in relation to serious sexual offences. This can include the position to be adopted in a police interview or drafting letters of representation as to why an individual should not be charged. This can often have a huge impact on whether a client will even be charged with a criminal offence.

She also advises the Crown Prosecution Service and other prosecution bodies at the pre charge stage in relation to serious and complex crimes. This involves evidence gathering and advice in relation to arrest.

 

 

Appeals


Christine is also regularly instructed to give a second opinion both upon requests from solicitors and after referral from The Criminal Cases Review Commission in cases where she did not act in the court below.
She has also advised ‘pro bono’ in cases from Commonwealth jurisdictions and appeared in the Privy Council in relation to an appeal against a murder conviction from Jamaica.

Crime


Christine has specialised for 27 years in prosecuting and defending serious and complex crime. As a QC this continues and she specialises in the most serious criminal offences.

She regularly represents high profile clients and those who attract media attention. Christine understands the particular pressure that brings to a case and is able to help deal with it.

Christine has significant experience in dealing with the press and applying for or opposing reporting restrictions.

Cases:

R v B 2019 – Representing a mother charged with the murder of her 3-month old
Daughter. Following commissioning of an expert psychiatric report and negotiation the prosecution accepted a plea to Infanticide. The defendant was sentenced to a hospital order without a restriction order.
R v C 2018 Representing the ex-managing partner of a magic circle firm charged with
assault and making threats to kill against his ex-wife.
R v O 2018 Representing a sitting MP charged with perverting the course of    justice.
R v V 2017 Prosecuting a two handed murder / manslaughter in which the killing was as
a result of a single blow.
R v T 2016 Representing a man with significant mental health problems who had set fire
to a block of flats and had caused the death of a heavily pregnant woman. The case was ultimately disposed of by way of a hospital order.

Fraud


Christine has extensive experience in all types of fraud cases. She has recently been instructed in mortgage frauds, VAT frauds, fraudulent trading cases and a trial involving allegations of bribery.

She regularly acts for professionals, whether company accountants or directors.

Christine also has considerable experience in relation to money laundering allegations.  She has acted for individuals and advised companies.

Cases:

R v A 2018: Representing defendant who was privately prosecuted charged with an
insurance fraud.
R v G 2018: Representing agent who had received allegedly corrupt payments for
contracts in Saudi Arabia.
R v D 2017: Representing deaf defendant charged with 2 complex Access to Work frauds.
R v L 2016: Representing an employee of the NHS charged with corruption in relation to
the receipt of payments in relation to the awarding of contracts.
R v W 2014: Representing a qualified accountant charged with conspiracy to furnish false
information and bribery. This was the first bribery prosecution by the SFO under the new Bribery Act. Mr W, a qualified accountant, was the only defendant to be cleared. His co-accused, who were convicted, received between 6 and 13 years’ imprisonment.

SFO gains its first convictions under new UK bribery law (Financial Times, 5 December 2014)
Former IFA sentenced to six years in £23m investment fraud trial (Citywire, 8 December 2014)

Health & Safety


Christine has appeared in a number of Gross Negligence Manslaughter and Corporate Manslaughter trials. She has often been instructed to advise at an early stage when prosecuting in relation to charge and evidence gathering. Christine has prosecuted several fatality cases requiring detailed and specialist knowledge. She has represented local authorities, companies and directors. Since 2014 Christine has been working with Richard Matthews QC in relation to the health and safety and Gross Negligence Manslaughter charges arising out of the Hillsborough Disaster.

Cases:

R v D 2018-9 Prosecuting the Match Commander on duty at the Hillsborough Stadium and the Club’s safety officer on 15th April 1996 when 96 Liverpool football fans died as a result of crushing.
R v H 2019 Representing Local Authority Highways Department in relation to a serious accident causing grave injuries to a child involving street furniture. Involved advising the CEO and CFO of the Council.
R v A 2019 Prosecuting a company and director for Corporate Manslaughter and health
and safety offences arising out of an accident at a waste site resulting in the death of an employee by crushing.
R v O 2017 Prosecuting a company charged with corporate manslaughter and
individual directors charged with health and safety offences. Fragile roof case resulting in death of employee.
R v V 2017 Prosecuted a large waste company in relation to the death of an employee who had been crushed by a vehicle at a waste disposal site.
R v T 2017 Advised in relation to the prosecution of two defendants for Gross Negligence Manslaughter in relation to the death of a child on a bouncy castle.
R v L 2016 Prosecuting a company charged with health and safety offences surrounding
the crushing to death of an employee during the installation of a staircase.

Serious Sexual Offences


As a junior barrister Christine spent many years prosecuting and defending the most serious type of sexual offences.

As a QC this continues; she is widely considered to be a sensitive and client friendly leader of the team.
She has particular expertise in historical cases but is also enormously experienced in cross examining young witnesses.

Christine has successfully argued that a prosecution for historical sexual offences is unfair due to delay in bringing the charges.

Cases:

D 2019 Advising a man of good character post interview and pre charge. Drafted a letter of representations on charge for submission to the investigating officer and the CPS.

R v S 2019 Representing a man of good character charged with sexual offences dating
back to the 1970’s

R v H 2017 Indecent images case in which defendant was made the subject of a
suspended sentence despite the fact he had a huge number of images. Christine was involved early and advised as to plea from the outset. He was an orthodontist and Christine also represented him in front of the GDC thereby ensuring continuity of representation.

R v FD 2016 Representing a Premiership football player charged with gang rape.

R v X  2015 Letter of representation for young man accused of sexual offences leading to
a decision not to charge

Directory Quotes


Shortlisted for Criminal Silk of the Year – Legal 500 2019.
“A tactically astute and level-headed silk” – Legal 500 2020.
“An outstanding advocate.” – Legal 500 2020.
“She never shies away from a fight.” – Legal 500 2020.
“A highly regarded silk with a vast criminal practice prosecuting and defending the most serious heavyweight criminal matters such as murder….. She is well regarded by market sources for being “down-to-earth and approachable.” – Chambers 2019.
“Really personable, really effective and someone who is trusted by judges and juries alike.” – Chambers 2019.

“Her effortless manner belies her steely determination.” Legal 500

“She really is first class. She’s sympathetic and hard working, and clients love her, but she’s not a soft touch.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“An excellent trial advocate who is great with clients.” Legal 500

“She really is first class.  She’s sympathetic and hard-working, and clients love her, but she’s not a soft touch.” Chambers and Partners

Memberships


  • Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Essex Bar Mess
  • Health & Safety Lawyers Association
  • South Eastern Circuit

Qualifications


  • Grade 4 Prosecution Advocate