Kate Blackwell (barrister)

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Kate Blackwell QC
Kate Blackwell (barrister).jpeg
Katherine Elizabeth Blackwell

(1969-10-05) 5 October 1969 (age 49)
EducationLoreto Convent Grammar School Altrincham,Manchester
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Inns of Court School of Law, London
Years active1992–present
Home townManchester

Kate Blackwell QC (born 5 October 1969) is a British barrister. A member of Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester, she became a Crown Court Recorder in 2009 and Queen's Counsel in 2012.[1] Blackwell has been described as a ‘no-nonsense prosecutor’ by the Guardian.[2]


Called to the bar in 1992, Blackwell prosecuted the British serial killer Harold Shipman.[3] She was later appointed to The Shipman Inquiry [4] chaired by Dame Janet Smith in 2000.

Blackwell was appointed as counsel to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel[5] commissioned by the Home Office in 2014 and chaired by Baroness O'Loan, to address questions relating to police involvement in the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, the role played by police corruption and the incidence of corrupt connections between private investigators, the London Metropolitan Police and journalists at the News of the World.

Blackwell was "vilified" by the media in 2013 when a complainant in a rape case committed suicide a week after cross-examination by her in court.[6][7] The trial judge described Blackwell's behaviour as "perfectly proper and correct in her examination of all the witnesses in this case". This was despite the aggressive questioning of a woman raped by the man she was defending “That is simply not true.” or “You are indulging in the realms of fantasy.” or “What you have told this jury is a complete pack of lies.” to which Mrs Andrade replied: “This is why cases don’t come forward. You have got no idea, clearly, about what it is like to be raped.”[7]

Blackwell was appointed as the expert legal adviser to the Gosport Independent Panel[8] in 2015 to investigate historic concerns about the initial care of older people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital and the subsequent investigations into their deaths. The Panel found that, during the relevant period, the lives of over 450 patients were shortened by clinically inappropriate use of opioid analgesics, with an additional 200 lives also likely to be have been shortened if missing medical records are taken into account.[9] [10]

In 2016, Blackwell was lead barrister for the prosecution[11][12] of ex-Sunderland Premier League footballer Adam Johnson,[13] at Bradford Crown Court,[14] who was convicted.[15] On 28 February 2017, Blackwell appeared at the Court of Appeal to respond on behalf of the Crown to an application by Adam Johnson for permission to appeal his conviction and sentence. After hearing argument from both sides, the Court, presided over by Lady Justice Rafferty, reserved judgement.[16] On 16 March 2017, the Court of Appeal refused leave for Adam Johnson to appeal his conviction and sentence.[17]

Blackwell was appointed as the Deputy Head of Lincoln House Chambers, in March 2016.

At the Manchester Legal Awards 2017 ceremony, Blackwell won the 'Barrister of the Year' award.[18]

In December 2017 Blackwell was appointed as a Master of the Bench at the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. She was presented by Lord Justice McCombe and published by the Treasurer, Lord Neuberger.

Blackwell was again awarded 'Barrister of the Year' for the second time at the 10th Anniversary Manchester Legal Awards on 7 March 2019.

Early years[edit]

After attending Loreto Convent Grammar School in Altrincham, Greater Manchester (1981–88), Blackwell studied Law at the University of Birmingham (1989–92) and subsequently went to the Inns of Court School of Law in London where she completed the Bar Vocational Course.[citation needed] A keen member of the National Youth Theatre, she performed in Murder in the Cathedral by TS Elliot at The Edinburgh Festival in 1982.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "New QCs revealed". the Guardian.
  2. ^ "Adam Johnson Trial Background". the Guardian.
  3. ^ "Harold Shipman guilty of 15 murders". the Guardian.
  4. ^ "At a glance: The Shipman Reports". BBC News.
  5. ^ Vikram Dodd. "Met police hindered inquiry into private eye's death, says victim's brother". the Guardian.
  6. ^ "Barrister vilified for grilling abused violinist uses case to try to escape driving ban". Telegraph.co.uk. 18 June 2014.
  7. ^ a b Helen Pidd. "Sexual abuse victim killed herself after giving evidence at choirmaster trial". the Guardian.
  8. ^ "Gosport War Memorial Hospital deaths inquiry launched". BBC News. 9 December 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  9. ^ https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/secretary-of-states-oral-statement-on-the-gosport-independent-panel-report
  10. ^ https://news.sky.com/story/live-painkiller-deaths-inquiry-conclusion-11410660
  11. ^ "Adam Johnson case 'grooming in its purest form', court hears". ITV News.
  12. ^ "Former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson 'abused position in society'". BBC News.
  13. ^ Josh Halliday. "Adam Johnson: Sunderland player pleads guilty to sexual activity with 15-year-old girl". the Guardian.
  14. ^ "England footballer Adam Johnson to face child sex trial in February". BBC News.
  15. ^ "Adam Johnson guilty of child sex crime". BBC News.
  16. ^ "Footballer Adam Johnson appeal bid judgement reserved". BBC News. 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  17. ^ "Ex-footballer Adam Johnson loses child sex case appeal". BBC News. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  18. ^ Begum, Shelina (2017-03-03). "Lawyers honoured at Manchester Legal Awards". men. Retrieved 2017-03-03.