Expert and Advisory Panel appointed for Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid

The Expert and Advisory Panel, appointed by the Lord Chancellor, will provide support by testing and challenging the review’s emerging findings and recommendations.

Sir Christopher, who was appointed by the Lord Chancellor on 21 December 2020 will chair monthly meetings of the expert and advisory panel, beginning in February. Sir Christopher will submit his recommendations to the Lord Chancellor later this year and it is intended that the report will be published by the end of this year alongside the government’s response.

The review will consider the criminal legal aid system in its entirety, specifically it seeks to ensure that it:

  • provides high quality legal advice and representation
  • is provided through a diverse set of practitioners
  • is appropriately funded
  • is responsive to user needs both now and in the future.
  • contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System
  • is transparent
  • is resilient
  • is delivered in a way that provides value for money to the taxpayer

This is the latest step in the Criminal Legal Aid Review, which has already led to up to £51 million per year for the sector. It forms part of wider work to ensure criminal defence remains an attractive career for practitioners now and in the future.

The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

I am grateful to Sir Christopher Bellamy and his esteemed panel for undertaking this vital piece of work which will play a crucial role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the criminal legal aid market.

Chair of the Review, Sir Christopher Bellamy, said:

I look forward to undertaking my role as the chair and am very grateful to the panel members who have agreed to advise me on the analysis, findings and any proposed recommendations of the review.

Having a panel of experts with a range of backgrounds, skills and legal experience is vital in ensuring a thorough review of the criminal legal aid system

Expert and Advisory Panel

The Expert and Advisory Panel will be composed of senior figures and experts with a variety of backgrounds and expertise relevant to the review. The appointed panel members are:

  • Sir Christopher Bellamy QC – Panel Chair
  • Professor Sue Arrowsmith QC
  • Richard Atkinson
  • Kate Aubrey Johnson
  • Professor Chris Bones
  • Dr Natalie Byrom
  • Jo Cecil
  • Anita Charlesworth CBE
  • Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE, QC (Hon), FBA, LLD
  • The Right Honourable Baroness Hallett DBE
  • Neil Hawes QC
  • Dr Vicky Kemp
  • Professor Stephen Mayson
  • Margaret Obi
  • Crispin Passmore
  • Professor Neil Rickman
  • Bill Waddington
  • Dr Kevin Wong


A short profile of each panel member below:

Sir Christopher Bellamy QC (Chair):

Sir Christopher is a former judge with a wealth of legal experience. He has recently stepped down as Chairman of Linklaters global competition practice and joined Monckton Chambers to focus on mediation and arbitration. Sir Christopher will lead a dedicated review team within Government and will have close oversight of the work to ensure it meets these terms of reference and delivers robust, evidence-based recommendations.

Professor Sue Arrowsmith QC:

Sue Arrowsmith is Professor Emerita of Law at the University of Nottingham, where she was formerly Director of the Public Procurement Research Group and leader of the EU Asia Link project to establish procurement research centres globally. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel (honoris causa) in 2019 and in 2007 received the CIPS Swinbank Medal for thought innovation in purchasing and supply. She is currently a member of the Government’s Thematic Trade Advisory Group on procurement and also served on its recent Procurement Transformation Advisory Panel (2019-2020). She has served on expert reform committees of the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (2018-2019), World Bank (2012-2016) and UNCITRAL (2004-2012) and from 1994-2012 was on the European Commission’s Independent Advisory Committee on procurement. From 1998-2012 she was non-executive Director of Achilles Information Ltd. She is currently working on books on allocation of rights and grants under EU law, foundations of EU procurement, Covid-19 procurement, and sport governance. She is also Editor of the international Public Procurement Law Review, which she founded in 1992.

Richard Atkinson:

Richard Atkinson is a very experienced criminal law practitioner, he is a solicitor with higher rights of audience. He has specialised in criminal law for over 25 years and has been a duty solicitor since 1991. He is a member of the Law Society’s Council (2016- present) and is a past Chair of its Criminal Law Committee (2011-14 & 2017-20) and is the Past President of the Kent Law Society (2018-19). He is a member of the National Disclosure Forum, the PACE Review Board, and the National Implementation Team for Transforming Summary Justice and Better case Management. Richard was a member the reference group for Sir Bill Jeffrey’s Review into Independent Criminal Advocacy (2014) and a member of the Review group of Sir Brian Leveson’s Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings (2015). He was a winner of the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year special award 2020.

Kate Aubrey Johnson:

Kate Aubrey Johnson is a child rights and youth justice specialist barrister and mediator at Garden Court Chambers and is recognised for her expertise in youth justice. She chairs the Ministry of Justice Youth Justice Working Group on Quality of Advocacy and recently worked with Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth to provide guidance to the Judicial College on sentencing children for the Crown Court Compendium. She established the Youth Justice Legal Centre, a national organisation which provides expert legal advice, guidance and training on children’s rights in the criminal justice system. She also sits on a number of Advisory Boards and is currently helping to devise a national youth advocacy course with the ICCA. She is co-author of the leading textbook Youth Justice Law and Practice (LAG, 2019) and is consultant editor for Halsbury’s Laws on criminal procedure involving children.

Professor Chris Bones:

Chris Bones is Chair of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, now in his second term of office he is the only non-lawyer to lead one of the larger legal professional bodies in England and Wales. He is Dean Emeritus of Henley Business School, Professor Emeritus at Alliance Manchester Business School, an Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter and a previous winner of the UK’s Management Book of the Year Prize for his analysis of the contribution of private and public sector leadership to the financial crisis in 2008 – The Cult of the Leader (2011). Before moving to business education, he had an international career as a senior executive at Diageo and Cadbury Schweppes. He is co-founder and Chairman of the e-commerce consultancy Good Growth and currently a Non-Executive Director of the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust. He is co-author of two book on e-commerce: Leading Digital Strategy (2015) and Optimizing Digital Strategy (2019).

Dr Natalie Byrom:

Dr Natalie Byrom is Director of Research at The Legal Education Foundation where she leads work on their Smarter Justice programme including the development of a new research centre- the UK Access to Justice Lab. From 2018-2020 she was seconded to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service as Expert Advisor on Open Data. Her final report to government sets ou
t a series of recommendations for the ways in which the data architecture underpinning the courts and tribunals system should be developed to ensure that reformed justice system processes uphold access to justice. She is part of the BBC Expert Women Network and her writing has been featured in the national and legal press.

Jo Cecil:

Jo Cecil was called to the Bar in 2005 and practices from Garden Court Chambers. She has a mixed serious crime and public law practice, encompassing civil litigation in the civil liberties sphere, including inquiries. She is ranked as a leading junior in crime and civil liberties and human rights. In 2019 she was awarded Legal Aid Barrister of the Year. In 2018 she was awarded the Rising Star in Youth Justice Award by the Youth Justice Legal Centre and shortlisted by Legal 500 for Crime Junior of the Year. She is Chair of the CBA Remuneration Committee. Jo has a particular specialism in children and criminal justice and is a Trustee of Just for Kids Law, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice and formerly ROLE UK. She is a lead facilitator for the Advocacy and the Vulnerable and sits on the Ministry of Justice’s Working Group on Youth Advocacy. She was also appointed as an independent commissioner on the ‘Bach’ Access to Justice Commission, is the Secretary of the Bar Human Rights Committee and is appointed as a Recorder in crime and family.

Anita Charlesworth CBE:

Anita Charlesworth is the Director of Research and the REAL Centre (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term) at the Health Foundation, and Honorary Professor in the College of Social Sciences at the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) at the University of Birmingham. She previously worked as Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust (2010-14), as Chief Analyst and Chief Scientific Advisor at DCMS (2007-10), Director of Public Spending at the Treasury (1998-2007), as an Economic Advisor at the Department of Health and for SmithKline Beecham pharmaceuticals.  She was specialist advisor to the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS in 2016/17 and was recently appointed as an expert adviser for the Health and Social Care Select Committee. She has an MSc in Health Economics from the University of York. She is a Trustee for Tommy’s, the baby charity, and also a Trustee for the Office of Health Economics. She was awarded a CBE in The Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours List for Services to Economics and Health Policy.

Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE, QC (Hon), FBA, LLD:

Dame Hazel Genn is Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in the Faculty of Laws at UCL. She was Dean of the Faculty 2008-2017 and is currently UCL Vice Provost International & Advancement. She is an expert on access to justice – author of Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law (1999) a seminal empirical study of public access to justice, which has since been replicated in 27 jurisdictions around the world. Her work has had a global influence on policymakers in relation to the provision of legal aid and the social and health effects of unmet legal need. In 2013, she founded the UCL Centre for Access to Justice, which delivers free social welfare legal advice to low income and vulnerable people in East London. She has been appointed to the Judicial Appointments Commission (2006-2011) and the Committee on Standards in Public Life 2003-7. In recognition of her contribution to the justice system, she was appointed CBE in 2000 and DBE in 2006. In 2006, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa and in 2008, she was elected Honorary Bencher of Gray’s Inn.

The Right Honourable Baroness Hallett DBE:

Baroness Hallett was called to the Bar 1972. In 1989 she became a QC and a Recorder of the Crown Court. She specialised in criminal work both prosecuting and defending. She was elected Chairman of the Bar Council for England and Wales in 1998. In 1999 she was appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court and in 2005 she was appointed to the Court of Appeal. She was also made a Privy Councillor in 2005. She was elevated to the position of Vice President of Court of Appeal Criminal Division in 2013. In October 2019 she retired from the bench and was made a Cross Bench Life Peer.

Neil Hawes QC:

Neil Hawes Q.C. was called to the Bar in 1989 (Inner Temple) and appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2010. He is Head of Chambers at Crucible Law, a member of the Bar Council and Co-Chair of the Bar Council Remuneration Committee dealing with criminal legal aid fees. He specialises in business related criminal and regulatory work usually prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office and Financial Conduct Authority and has appeared in a number of high-profile cases including: Tom Hayes (Libor), BA/Virgin (airline price fixing), Goldshield Ltd & Others (pharmaceuticals), XYZ and Guralp Systems (both bribery prosecutions following Deferred Prosecution Agreements). Nominated for Crime Q.C. of the Year in 2019 he has consistently been recommended in legal directories for his business crime and corporate investigations work (Band 1). He also has extensive experience acting in serious organised crime cases and has represented numerous individuals charged with murder. He is a former Trustee and Chair of Governors at a state school.

Dr Vicky Kemp:

Vicky Kemp is a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Law and Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Research Centre, University of Nottingham. She is also a member of the International Legal Aid Group. Throughout her career, she has been involved in criminal legal aid, acting as a policy adviser in the former Legal Aid Board and, subsequently, as a principal researcher in the Legal Services Research Centre, the independent research unit of the Legal Services Commission. Having published extensively, her research interests are on legal aid and access to justice, particularly for vulnerable people drawn into the criminal justice system. She is currently working on a Nuffield funded research project to examine the impact of legal safeguards on the detention and questioning of young suspects, which includes developing digital resources to provide child-friendly information on suspects’ legal rights.

Professor Stephen Mayson:

Stephen Mayson is currently an honorary professor in the Faculty of Laws at UCL. He is also an emeritus professor at the University of Law and was previously Director of the Legal Services Policy Institute. He was called to the Bar in 1977 by Lincoln’s Inn, where he is now a Bencher and chair of its Regulatory Panel. As well as more than 35 years’ experience of advising law offices of all sizes around the world on matters of strategy, ownership, governance and finance, he has also served as a non-executive director and chair of a number of law firms and law-related businesses. In 2014-15, he chaired the cross-regulator review of the Legal Services Act 2007, which resulted in the submission to the Ministry of Justice of options for legislative change. In July 2018, the Centre for Ethics & Law at UCL announced that he would be carrying out an independent review of legal services regulation in England & Wales, and his final report and recommendations were submitted to the Lord Chancellor and published in June 2020.

Margaret Obi:

Margaret Obi is a solicitor and former partner in a leading criminal defence practice. She has extensive experience of a wide range of criminal allegations including murder, complex fraud and grave sexual offences and was a supervisor for Very High Cost Case legal aid work. In 2014 she became an independent legal adviser. She advises various international organisations, Legal 500 firms and undertakes independent reviews on behalf of large companies, banks, and other financial institutions under inves
tigation by the Serious Fraud Office, National Crime Agency, Financial Conduct Authority and Competition and Markets Authority. She also advises international legal teams defending allegations of war crimes in the International Criminal Court and intergovernmental disputes in the International Court of Justice. She is an independent reviewer, legal assessor, and Chair for various statutory bodies. She is a former member of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee (2006-2015) and is the author of two practitioner books on prison law. In 2018 she was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge.

Crispin Passmore:

Crispin Passmore is the founder and principle of Passmore Consulting where he works with a select group of high-profile legal businesses and law firms in the UK and US, offering strategic and regulatory advice to Boards, CEOs and General Counsel. He also works with regulators around the world that are modernising or reforming their regulatory approach. He is a non-executive Council member and Chair of the Audit at the General Dental Council which regulates the UK’s dental professions. His non-executive portfolio also includes Citizen Housing where again he Chairs the Audit & Risk Committee. Previously, Crispin was Executive Director at the Solicitors Regulation Authority where he led the regulatory reform programme. Prior to that Crispin helped set up the Legal Services Board as the deputy to the CEO. Crispin’s deep and broad knowledge of the legal market has been built over more than 25 years in the legal market in a number of roles including running the UK’s largest Law Centre and as Executive Director at the Legal Services Commission.

Professor Neil Rickman:

Neil Rickman is a Professor of Economics at the University of Surrey. He has also held posts at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Pembroke College, Oxford and a visiting position at Erasmus University Law School, Rotterdam. He is the author of a number of articles, chapters and reports on various aspects of the economics of the legal system and has also acted as an advisor to the Clementi Review, the Ministry of Justice (and its predecessors), the Legal Services Commission, the Law Society, several committees of the Civil Justice Council (including those established to advise on the setting of Guideline Hourly Rates in 2013/4 and 2020/21) and the Department of Health. In 2002/3, he was responsible (with Paul Fenn) for advising on the setting of Fixed Recoverable Costs for RTA Claims, the forerunner of the subsequent Jackson reforms.

Bill Waddington:

Bill Waddington is currently a Consultant Solicitor specialising in Criminal, Road Traffic and Regulatory law. He was, until January 2020 the Managing Director of Williamsons Solicitors based in Hull, where he remains as a Consultant. He qualified as a Solicitor in 1980 and has spent 40 years at the coal face specialising in legal aid work and as a Departmental head , equity partner , then Managing Director . He is a former Chair of the CLSA (2012-2015 and 2017 -2020) and is still an active member of the Committee. He is also a Law Society Council member and a member of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee. In 2015, he was nominated for and won the prestigious Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award. He was a member of the Bach Commission and has appeared before the Justice Select Committee on two occasions and has also appeared before the All Party Parliamentary Group.

Dr Kevin Wong:

Kevin Wong has over twenty-five years’ experience in the criminal justice sector as a researcher, practitioner, policy advisor, trainer and commissioner. He is currently Reader in Community Justice and Associate Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University, leading PERU’s criminal justice research and evaluation work. Prior to this, he held senior leading roles as: The Deputy Director then Acting Director of the Hallam Centre for Community Justice Sheffield Hallam University: and in the voluntary sector as Assistant Director for Nacro, one of the largest social justice charities in the UK. He is Co-Editor of the British Journal of Community Justice and a member of the Advisory Panel on Probation Learning. He is the chair of the board of trustees of the Criminal Justice Alliance, a membership organisation with over 160 agencies operating across all aspects of the criminal justice system. He is a trustee of the Manchester charity Back on Track which provides employment and training support for people with complex needs. Prior to working in criminal justice, he was a practitioner and developed standards and shaped policy in the community legal advice sector.