Criminal Defence Solicitors

Our crime and extradition team is the backbone of the firm’s work, and has earned plaudits from other lawyers who know the work that we do. We have some of the leading youth court specialists working in a dedicated youth justice team.

Our criminal team consists of lawyers who are experts in a wide range of areas, including

  • Magistrates’ Court
  • Youth Court
  • Crown Court
  • Police station attendance
  • Appeals to all higher courts
  • Judicial Reviews
  • Prison Law
  • Extradition

We have built up particular expertise in Youth Court law, Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) work and extradition cases. We do as much serious and non-serious criminal defence work as anyone in London.

Some high-profile cases our lawyers have acted on include the ‘Damilola Taylor’ and ‘Stephen Lawrence’ trials. We apply the same high standards to all of our cases, whether the client is accused of driving without insurance, or murder. Our firm has developed an enviable reputation in the courts for fighting hard for our clients no matter who they are, or what they are accused of.

From police station to the Court of Appeal we are motivated by the same goal: to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

Like most criminal defence firms we run a 24-hour service, 365 days a year – without exception. Out-of-hours we very rarely subcontract our advice service to freelance representatives or retired police officers – if you instruct us, we will be the ones representing you. From the principal lawyer to the most junior, we all do the job of defending clients everyday. In those rare circumstances where we do not have sufficient in-house expertise, we work with the leading barristers in their field to get the right result.

Our team is headed by Greg Stewart who founded the firm in 2003. He has more than 20 years experience of criminal litigation but remains approachable and an active member of the team. Greg is a Higher Courts Advocate and he is the member of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee responsible for youth justice issues. He also deals with ongoing serious criminal trials as well as many appeals against conviction and sentence. He has personally been recommended in Chambers UK.

We take particular pride in our high quality advocacy. All of our solicitors attend Court on a regular basis, representing clients in the magistrates’ court from the first hearing to the trial with an exceptional record for obtaining successful outcomes. Our Higher Courts Advocates department consists of a number of highly skilled and experienced Crown Court advocates – both solicitor-advocates and barristers – who deal with the full range of cases that come before the Crown Court. They also regularly appear at the Court of Appeal and High Court, allowing us to deal with cases in-house at every level.

We have a specialist Youth Court team, as we believe only specially-trained lawyers should deal with children and young adults given the legal and emotional complexity of the work. Our specialised Youth Court advocates are particularly approachable and understanding, in addition to being excellent lawyers.

If you would like to discuss the work that we do further, please contact a member of our team. Alternatively, you can make an online enquiry and we will respond at the earliest opportunity.

At GT Stewart, we understand that being arrested can be amongst the most difficult experiences of our clients’ lives. Obtaining legal representation at the earliest opportunity following arrest can be crucial to the overall outcome of the case regardless of your guilt or innocence.

Although the natural instinct for many may be to simply co-operate with police and answer questions without a lawyer, this may not be the best approach and can sometimes be extremely damaging. Juries will usually be shown a transcript of what you have said during any police interview and in some circumstances it can form a central part of the Prosecution case. It is therefore important not to leave it too late before requesting a lawyer.

Our lawyers have a wealth of experience representing clients in the police station. They are available to represent clients who have been arrested 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A lawyer will be able to obtain details of the evidence against you prior to your police interview. We will then be in a position to advise you fully about the strength of the case against you and the appropriate way of dealing with the police interview. If you have been arrested, we understand that you will find yourself in a stressful environment, surrounded by an unfamiliar procedure – we specialise in carefully guiding our clients through the process and providing assistance with complex questions such as: should you answer questions in interview? Should you agree to provide police with intimate samples? How long can the police keep you in custody? Will you get bail? Should you accept a police caution for this matter and how will that affect you in the future?

It is not only the police and crown prosecution service that conduct criminal investigations and proceedings, there are many other organisations who carry out investigations and prosecutions and who have similar powers to the police and crown prosecution service. All of our lawyers have a broad range of experience in dealing with the different prosecuting and investigative authorities. If you are invited to an interview under caution by a prosecuting authority other than the police, then it is just as important that you obtain legal advice as if you had been arrested. Examples of the sort of investigations that we can assist with include:

  • Serious Fraud Office investigations
  • Financial Conduct Authority matters
  • HMRC investigations into tax and revenue offences
  • Local authorities and Department of Work & Pensions investigating allegations such as benefit fraud, illegal sub-letting or misuse of a disabled parking badge.
  • RSPCA investigations such as mistreatment or neglect of animals.
  • National Crime Agency matters

Although legal aid is often available for those that have been arrested or invited to interview under caution, our private crime department provides a thorough and comprehensive service from highly experienced lawyers. If you would like to discuss our rates, please contact our Blackfriars office.

GT Stewart Solicitors specialises in heavyweight cases, and over the years have fought tooth and nail to ensure our clients are exonerated when charged with all types of serious offences including murder, sexual offences, terrorism and large-scale frauds.

When you or a family member is arrested on suspicion of committing a grave crime, you need a wise and experienced lawyer who knows exactly what to do in these most difficult of circumstances. its not only about representation at the police station and at court but about making important early decisions, such as:

  • finding and obtaining evidence which is a risk of being destroyed, like CCTV
  • tracing an alibi witnesses and persuading witnesses to come to court or give a statement to the police
  • using modern technology to build a defence case – like using mobile phone cell site evidence to prove that you weren't in the area at the time
  • arranging a bail package to get you out of prison asap
  • dealing with the media

Our approach is pro-active and relentless. You get one shot at a trial; one chance to make sure that the jury sees all the evidence and not just the parts that the prosecution pick and choose. These are not standard cases. If it's a serious allegation, you need more than a run-of-the-mill law firm. Led by Greg Stewart, GT Stewart have represented defendants in some of the most significant trials of our generation, including the killings of Damilola Taylor and Stephen Lawrence.

The kind of cases that we are instructed on reflect the issues facing our society. In recent years, we have developed expertise defending people accused of terrorism offences, people-trafficking and internet-related offences, and investigations by domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI. Our extradition department works closely with our crime department to assist those wanted for serious crimes abroad.

In every case, no matter how serious, it is crucial to instruct us as early as possible to secure the best chance of a positive outcome.

Extradition is the process of another country seeking the return of a ‘requested person’ in order to either prosecute them for an offence or so that they can serve an outstanding sentence.

The request for extradition is made by the requesting state issuing a ‘European Arrest Warrant’ (EAW) which is then certified by the National Crime Agency. Once a person is wanted under an EAW they are liable to arrest. If arrested they will be detained by local police and transported to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for the next court session.

Extradition can be a very stressful and complicated process. There is no ‘presumption in favour of bail’ as in regular criminal cases and the arguments that can be run in opposition to extradition are often highly technical in nature. There is also the additional issue of a language barrier if the requested person is not originally from the UK. Legal advice is therefore essential to anyone facing extradition.

On top of this, extradition is a particularly fast-moving area of law that is constantly being re-shaped by new judgments and legislative amendments. If you require advice in connection with an extradition matter or you know someone who does, it is essential to instruct a firm with the appropriate experience and expertise.

GT Stewart Solicitors has a dedicated extradition department and a team of solicitors who regularly deal with extradition cases at both Magistrates’ Court and High Court level. We have a reputation for tenaciously pursuing cases in the appellate courts, one example being the widely reported case of FK [2012] UKSC 25 which was pursued up to the Supreme Court where the client’s appeal succeeded. This case changed the way in which the Article 8 rights of children are addressed in extradition cases.

We take pride in pursuing every avenue of challenge to an EAW and we work closely with the top extradition barristers in London. We also have an excellent understanding of how to use expert evidence successfully and a catalogue of specialist expert witnesses including child psychologists, anti-trafficking organisations and experts on foreign prison conditions.

We undertake work both privately and on a publicly funded basis, and we will be happy to speak with you about whether Legal Aid is available for your case. If you have an extradition matter please contact us to discuss how we can help.

Reported Extradition cases in 2015

  • Szegfu v Hungary [2015] EWHC 1764 (admin)
  • Pluciennik v Poland [2015] EWHC 1933 (Admin)
  • Granauskas v Lithuania [2015] EWHC 1115

At GT Stewart we believe that representing children who find themselves caught up in the criminal justice system is one of the most important things that we do. We have such commitment to this area of law that we recognise it as a distinct area of the criminal law, which requires a specialist department made up of lawyers who have developed the expertise required to represent young people effectively.

Greg Stewart, the principal solicitor at the firm, is a recognised expert in representing young people and is a member of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee, with specific responsibility for Youth Justice. He has been involved in some of the leading trials involving young people in recent years and has a reputation for obtaining excellent results. As a consequence of his knowledge and experience in this area, Greg was asked to give oral evidence to the Carlile inquiry into youth justice and also the Lord Taylor review of youth justice. Greg is also an advisory board member at the Youth Justice and Legal Centre.

The head of our youth department is solicitor Melanie Stooks who has been representing young people since she qualified in 1998. She leads a team of lawyers who frequently attend police stations, youth courts and Crown Courts, representing clients charged with a range of different offences. Melanie has a particular expertise in representing vulnerable young defendants and the firm is on the National Autistic Society list of recommended solicitors. We have also contributed to the Working Group for Advocacy Training for Sexual Offences and Vulnerable Witnesses and Defendants in the hope of ensuring that young and vulnerable defendants are represented by advocates with the appropriate level of expertise. The firm has also developed strong links with the children’s charity Just for Kids Law who have an office based at our Camberwell Green branch.

Young people who have instructed GT Stewart can rest assured that they will be represented by lawyers that have been specifically trained in this area, and who have the detailed knowledge and understanding that is essential in this area.

We appreciate that clients facing proceedings involving allegations of sexual offences face unique stresses and concerns including the stigma of facing such charges and the potential consequences in the result of a conviction.

At GT Stewart we have years of experience in dealing with police investigations and court proceedings for offences ranging from rape to possession of indecent images. We recommend that clients obtain legal representation at the earliest possible opportunity as there are a range of issues that a lawyer may be able to assist you with at the outset, which may have an impact on the overall success of the case. Some issues include:

  • Should you provide intimate samples to the police when requested?
  • Is it in your interests to put forward an account to the police during interview?
  • Should you instruct an expert to provide a report challenging the Prosecution case on issues such as forensic evidence or medical opinions?
  • Should statements be taken from defence witnesses to rebut aspects of the Prosecution case?

We have a strong understanding of what it takes to pro-actively prepare a defence case in these circumstances and as a consequence we have developed a strong reputation for obtaining not guilty verdicts for our clients.

GT Stewart has a dedicated appeals department which provides advice on appeals to the Crown Court, Court of Appeal, the CCRC and other applications to vary/discharge orders. We have a busy practice and deal with a caseload of approximately 150 or more clients in prisons all over the country. We deal with a wide variety of appeals ranging from complex appeals against conviction involving human rights issues to appeals against sentence we consider to be manifestly excessive or wrong in principle. Most clients have approached us because their original legal team advised them they did not have any appeal and we regularly obtain leave to appeal in these cases. The team is headed by the principal lawyer in the firm Greg Stewart who supervises a bright young team of lawyers & paralegals.

Many people have their only brush with the law when they are pulled over by the police, or spoken to after an accident. Road traffic law is notoriously technical, and instructing a solicitor to represent you from the beginning can dramatically improve your chances of being found not-guilty or avoiding disqualification. We are regularly instructed by private individuals and insurance companies to advise and represent clients on:

  • Speeding
  • Drink driving
  • Drug driving
  • Failing to provide a specimen for analysis (refusing)
  • Dangerous and careless driving
  • Causing death and serious injury by driving.

Our specialist solicitors know exactly how prepare your defence to give you the best chance of winning your case and have a proven track record of success. Often, medical evidence or reports by expert witnesses will be required, and we know who the best ones are.

Drink driving and failing to provide a specimen

Being asked to use a breathalyser at the roadside or at the police station can be a nerve-wracking experience. The police will rarely be willing to wait for a solicitor to attend, and our clients have to make decisions themselves. You may try to blow, but for a variety of reasons, are unable to register a reading on the machine. You may blow a sample that is over the limit. If you instruct us to represent you, we will investigate the circumstances thoroughly and look at issues such as:

  • Did the police conduct the procedure correctly? Did they give you the requirement and warnings as required by statute?
  • Is there a medical reason why you couldn’t provide a sample? An independent expert may be able to explain whether you have an underlying medical issue such as asthma which could make it difficult for you to provide a sufficient sample of breath.
  • Was the equipment properly calibrated and was it operating correctly?
  • Did you eat or drink anything after you stopped driving? How long had it been since you drove?

Drug driving

We have dealt with a number of cases where our clients have been accused of driving whilst over the limit for illegal drugs, such as cocaine. It is a new and emerging area of law, and we can advise on potential defences, any weakness in the prosecution case and failure by police to comply with procedure. There are no sentencing guidelines available to magistrates, and we would suggest that instructing a solicitor to represent you at any sentencing hearing is all the more important in a drug drive case to ensure that you walk out of court with the best possible outcome.

Speeding

From the correct calibration and operation of the equipment itself to road markings, there are a number of ways to challenge speeding prosecutions. Our solicitors carefully scrutinise the prosecution evidence and, using years of experience and judgment calls, we will advise you on which areas could be ripe for challenge, and which would probably be a waste of money to investigate.

Funding your case

At GT Stewart we recognise that facing any form of criminal investigation or prosecution is a stressful experience and that having to worry at the same time about funding your representation can often add to this anxiety. We therefore provide all of our clients with clear advice from the outset about their funding options and offer extremely competitive rates for those clients who fund their cases privately.

Where legal aid is available, we will always advise you of this and assist you with completing the necessary applications. Please contact us if you have any queries about whether you are eligible for legal aid. You may also wish to check any insurance policies that you have as these will often provide funding for legal representation in certain circumstances.

Police Station Interviews

If you have been arrested and taken to a police station in order to be interviewed under caution, then you are entitled to legal aid, regardless of your means. We understand that in some circumstances our clients may wish to instruct us privately to represent them in a police station interview and we have significant experience in this area. If you would like to discuss our rates, then please contact us to discuss this further.

Magistrates’ Court

Legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court is available to those that satisfy both a means test and can show that it is in the interests of justice for legal aid to be granted in their case. The Legal Aid Agency will require proof of your income when assessing your eligibility such as recent wage slips or bank statements. If you wish to apply for legal aid, our team will assist you with the application process and advise you on your eligibility.

Crown Court

Legal aid is available for the majority of our clients who face proceedings in the Crown Court although applications are means tested. In the event that your disposable income exceeds a specified threshold, you will have to make contributions to your legal representation during the course of the proceedings. These contributions will be returned to you in the event that you are successful at the conclusion of the case.

Private funding

If you are not eligible for legal aid or would prefer to fund your representation privately, then many of our clients instruct us on a private basis and we have a strong reputation for successfully representing clients in this way. Our private client team will discuss your case with you and provide you with a realistic and competitive quote, tailored to suit your needs. We understand that for many clients it is important that they have certainty about how much their representation is going to cost and we always aim to provide this from an early stage.

If you wish to discuss funding your case in this way please contact our private client team at our Blackfriars office.