Edward Fitzgerald (barrister)

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Edward Hamilton Fitzgerald
Nationality British
Alma mater B.A., University of Oxford
MPhil, University of Cambridge[1]
Occupation Barrister
Spouse(s) Rebecca Fraser
Children 3 daughters

Edward Hamilton Fitzgerald CBE QC is an English barrister who specialises in criminal law, public law, and international human rights law. His work against the death penalty has led him to represent despised criminals such as: Myra Hindley, a perpetrator in the Moors murders; Mary Bell, a child killer; Maxine Carr; Jon Venables, one of James Bulger's killers; various IRA prisoners; and Abu Hamza, the controversial Muslim cleric.[2][3] Fitzgerald is currently the joint head of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC.[4] Fitzgerald has been called to the Bar in a number of jurisdictions including Belize, Grenada and St Vincent, and has been granted rights of audience to appear in cases in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Bahamas, and the British Virgin Islands.[5] He is also a trustee and patron of a number of charities including The Death Penalty Project and The Longford Trust.[5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Fitzgerald was educated at Ladycross Preparatory School in Seaford, and then Downside School in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, England, where he joined Barlow House.[3] Dom Raphael Appleby, the house master, introduced him to the art of debate and honed his skills. He also encouraged the boys to help those less fortunate than themselves with visits to the nearby Cheshire Homes, and thus encouraged them to bring justice and peace to the oppressed. Dom Raphael introduced him to the concept of social justice and encouraged thought about prisons and prisoners. Another of this monk’s beliefs was that problems and disputes should be resolved by argument. Fitzgerald went onto study at Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he read Literae Humaniores (Classics), and graduated with a Congratulatory First.[7] At Oxford, Fitzgerald played rugby for Corpus Christi, became involved in College politics, was elected secretary of the Junior Common Room, spoke regularly at the Oxford Union, wrote for the University paper, and edited the College magazine. After finishing his degree, Fitzgerald signed up to the two-year Bar course and then took a year off. He volunteered as a drama teacher at Kingswood reformatory, Bristol, for six months where Derek Bentley had been sent several years before. This proved to be inspirational and he decided that working with prisoners appealed to him. Halfway through the year, he moved to work for Mind. He then resumed his legal career with a one-year pupillage, before going up to Cambridge. Fitzgerald studied at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, leaving with a Master of Philosophy degree. He also qualified in New York and in American law.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Fitzgerald is married to Rebecca Fraser, a daughter of the novelist Lady Antonia Fraser and Conservative MP Sir Hugh Fraser. The couple have three daughters.

Thus, his grandfather-in-law was the Labour peer Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, who campaigned for the release from prison of Myra Hindley for many years, right up till his death in 2001.[2][8]

Career at the Bar[edit]

Fitzgerald was called to the Bar in 1978 and took silk (appointed Queen's Counsel) in 1995.[9] At the age of 27, Fitzgerald was a barrister practising at Dr Johnson’s Buildings, Temple, London, where the other members included John Mortimer, Helena Kennedy, and Geoffrey Robertson. Fitzgerald is currently the joint head of Doughty Street Chambers, along with Geoffrey Robertson QC.[4] Fitzgerald has appeared in many leading cases involving extradition, appeals over miscarriages of justice, and Privy Council death row appeals from the Commonwealth and Caribbean. In successive landmark cases in the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights he has established rights for life-sentence prisoners and those on death row. Fitzgerald has been called to the Bar in a number of jurisdictions, including Belize, Grenada, and St. Vincent. He has also been granted rights of audience to appear in cases in Hong Kong, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Bahamas, and the British Virgin Islands, and has represented death row prisoners in the Caribbean at all levels: sentencing hearings in the local courts, in the Courts of Appeal of Belize and the Eastern Caribbean, and at the Privy Council.[5]

Fitzgerald's work as a criminal defence barrister cases has led him to represent "some of the most loathed people ever to appear in court."[2] His clients have included Myra Hindley, the Moors murderer; Mary Bell, a child killer; Maxine Carr; Jon Venables, one of James Bulger’s killers various IRA prisoners, including Róisín McAliskey; and Abu Hamza, a controversial Muslim cleric.[2][3][10] Fitzgerald also represented David Shayler, a British journalist and former MI5 (Security Service) officer.[11]

Professional reputation[edit]

When a case "requires something extra," instructing solicitors go for Edward Fitzgerald QC, the set's leading player for both general crime and extradition. Recent extradition cases for him include Serbia v Ganic, which concerned a former member of the Bosnian presidency fighting extradition to Serbia. One particularly impressed source highlighted Fitzgerald's "unrivaled ability in the Court of Appeal when it comes to delivering forceful and complex arguments in a committed and skilled manner."

Chambers and Partners (Editorial).[12]

In the Chambers and Partners 2011, Fitzgerald was listed as a leading silk in Public and Administrative, Criminal, and criminal extradition law, and received a star ranking for his work in Civil liberties in the United Kingdom. Fitzgerald is also consistently ranked in Legal 500 for his work in Administrative and Public Law, Crime and Human Rights. Legal 500 described him as "a true intellectual giant – a top-class extradition and appellate lawyer".[citation needed] In June 1998, Fitzgerald was awarded the Justice award, sponsored by The Timesof London, for outstanding contributions to criminal justice.[13] Fitzgerald is also the 9th most cited barrister in the UK press, with seventy mentions between July 2006 and 2007.[14][15] On the 25 September 2005, Fitzgerald became the "Human Rights Silk of the Year" at the Chambers and Partners Bar Awards.[10] In June 2008, Fitzgerald was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2008. The award was made in recognition of his services to human rights.[16] In 2009, Fitzgerald won the silver jubilee "Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year" (for outstanding achievement) from the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group.[17][18]

Trusteeships and patronages[edit]

Fitzgerald has been a trustee of the Death Penalty Project since its inception in 2005.[5] Fitzgerald is also a patron of the Human Rights Lawyers Association, which aims to "increase knowledge and understanding of human rights and to aid their effective implementation within the UK legal framework and system of government".[19][20] Fitzgerald is a trustee of The Longford Trust, founded in 2002 by admirers of Lord Longford (1905–2001) to celebrate his achievements and to further his goals in social and prison reform.[6][20] Fitzgerald is also a patron of Young Legal Aid Lawyers, which has a strong belief in the "importance of good quality representation and advice at all levels to those who could otherwise not afford it".[20]


  1. ^ a b "Mr Edward Hamilton Fitzgerald QC CBE". Legal Hub. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The great defender". The Guardian (UK). 11 December 2000. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Jeffries, Stuart (24 January 2007). "The great defender 2007". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Directors And Trustees". The Death Penalty Project. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Our People". The Longford Trust. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (24 January 2007). "The great defender". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Edward Fitzgerald, QC, Human Rights Barrister". The Times. UK. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Malpas, John. "The Lawyer, Drop in applications for QC". The Lawyer. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Edward Fitzgerald, QC, Human rights barrister". The Times. UK. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  10. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard. "Let jury decide secrets issue, says QC". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Crime: London". Chambers and Partners. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "Justice award winners". The Lawyer. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Moshinsky, Ben. "Revealed: UK's most famous lawyer". The Lawyer. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  14. ^ Spence, Alex. "The UK's most high profile lawyers". The Times. UK. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  15. ^ "Edward Fitzgerald QC is awarded CBE". Doughty Street Chambers, News. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Outstanding Achievement Award for Edward Fitzgerald QC". Dought Street Chambers. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  17. ^ "management structure". Human Rights Lawyers Association. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c "About Us". Human Rights Lawyers Association. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 

External links[edit]