In praise of: 20 years of Bhatt Murphy
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Marc Bloomfield
It is hard to know where to begin. So I will start with a meeting in a basement somewhere in London in 2013, talking to Hamish Arnott about impending cuts to legal aid for prisoners. Hamish (who, with fellow Bhatt Murphy partner, Simon Creighton, is a long-time Legal Action author on prison law) agreed we really should bring a legal challenge against the cuts.
Four years later, working tirelessly under a conditional fee agreement, Bhatt Murphy won the first case against legal aid cuts in the Court of Appeal to lead to an area of law coming back into scope (R (Howard League and Prisoners' Advice Service) v Lord Chancellor [2017] EWCA Civ 244). The pre-eminence of Bhatt Murphy’s work in prison law is most aptly illustrated by the LALY nominations for 2016, which included Simon and his former trainee, Jane Ryan (another Legal Action contributor), in the shortlist for public law (see June 2016 Legal Action 8).
My gratitude to Bhatt Murphy for its ground-breaking work in prisoners’ rights over the past 20 years would surely be matched by others in fields such as inquests, immigration detention, abortion rights, actions against the police and public law generally. From Jed Pennington’s (also a Legal Action author) Medical Justice case that dealt with the definition of torture (Medical Justice and others v SSHD [2017] EWHC 2461 (Admin)) to the first High Court case in this jurisdiction to challenge the police for failing to protect trafficked women (OOO and others v CPM [2011] EWHC 1246 (QB)) brought by Tony Murphy (again, a Legal Action author), Bhatt Murphy’s cases have changed and developed the law for the good.
Tenacity, too, is a hallmark of the firm, as demonstrated by Raju Bhatt’s 20-year battle on behalf of the family of Daniel Morgan (Duncan Campbell, ‘Daniel Morgan murder: brother’s long fight for justice’, Guardian, 11 March 2011).

About the author(s)

Description: Laura Janes - author
Dr Laura Janes is the founder of Young Legal Aid Lawyers. She is LAG's chairperson, legal director at the Howard League for Penal Reform and...