Jonathan Laidlaw QC

Jonathan Laidlaw QC

“One of the premier league players at the Bar.”

Chambers UK 2021
Year of call: 1982 QC: 2008
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Criminal Defence

Chambers have consistently rated Jonathan Laidlaw QC as one of their star silks in crime and he is a previous recipient of the crime silk of the year award.

During his time as Treasury Counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC gained almost unrivalled experience in the most demanding and serious cases brought in this country during that 15 year period: from the first war crimes prosecution; the PIRA bombing of Canary Wharf trial; the Official Secrets Act prosecutions of both Tomlinson and Shayler; the Jill Dando murder trials; the CCRC reference to the Court of Appeal in the case of Jeremy Bamber; the prosecution of corrupt police officers; the prosecution of Barot and others (the al Qa’eda cell who had planned pre 9/11 attacks in the US and then bombings in this country); the al Qa’eda attack in London and on Glasgow Airport through to and including, the prosecuting of allegations of corruption against a CPS lawyer; a Saudi Prince for murder; a former BA employee charged with terrorist offences; and Delroy Grant (the ‘Night Stalker’). He also appeared in the House of Lords and frequently represented the Attorney General in the Court of Appeal. Jonathan Laidlaw QC’s involvement in prosecution work extended to advising various Government department and the intelligence agencies.

In recent years Jonathan Laidlaw QC has acted for the UK Government in Karadzic’s case in the Hague; for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in the Miranda/Guardian case before the Divisional Court; for JC Decaux; for Rebekah Brooks in the phone-hacking trial; for Andrew Fitch-Holland in the cricket match-fixing trial; for a major property developer in a series of long-running trials in Liverpool; and for Keith Vaz.

More recently Jonathan Laidlaw QC acted for Dr Agnes Taylor (the ex-wife of Charles Taylor) who faced charges of torture said to have been committed during the first Liberian civil war in 1990. Her case went to the Supreme Court and was then remitted back to the Central Criminal Court for a further hearing at which all the charges she faced were dismissed. Jonathan Laidlaw QC also acted for the CPS in the prosecution of the three young men accused of PC Harper’s murder and he continues to represent Operation Kenova into its investigation (amongst others) of the activities of the alleged agent “Stakeknife” in Northern Ireland.

The 2015 edition of Chambers and Partners said, “he is fantastic. He’s the hardest-working individual I have ever come across. The work he does is phenomenal. He is top-drawer.”

The 2016 edition said, “he is very level-headed and always incredibly calm in a crisis. He is a forceful and effective advocate who is a joy to work with” and “he is an excellent advocate who is calm and who gives superb client care.”

The 2017 guide described Jonathan Laidlaw QC as a “stand out silk….now specialising only in private defence work which spans the area of general crime, business crime, fraud and regulatory work, among others”. Sources described him as “superb”, “a class act” and “incredibly impressive”.  

The 2018 guide said, “As big a name as there is….He’s straightforward in his approach and radiates authority in court.” 

The 2019 guide said, “he represents both individuals and companies in a vast range of complex criminal matters….One of the top five criminal advocates in the country. He is really something special; a fantastic advocate.”

The 2020 guide says he is, “an exceptionally talented advocate who is brilliant with clients” and “absolutely at the top of his game”. It speaks of him being, “a superb advocate and first class in terms of the service he provides for both clients and solicitors. He offers in-depth analysis of all the issues that arise within the course of proceedings.”

The 2021 guide says this of Jonathan Laidlaw QC, “if you are in trouble you want him on your side. He manages to harness passion better than anyone I have ever seen” and “he is superb on strategy and is excellent at pinning down the issues and focusing on what needs to be dealt with.” 

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