Mark McDonaldYear of Call: 1997

Mark McDonald has a formidable reputation within criminal law. He specialises in criminal defence and has experience across all offences. Mark has led in a number of trials involving serious offences. Mark is regularly instructed in cases involving serious assaults, murder, rape, organised crime, and terrorism. He is known for the thoroughness of his preparation, providing clear and concise advice to clients and in particular for his ability to get on with clients. He has considerable experience of dealing with defendants with profound psychiatric and psychological issues. Mark advises regularly on appeals against conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal. Mark is an advocacy trainer for Lincoln’s Inn.

In 2007 Mark founded the London Innocence Project, a non-profit legal resource clinic. The project worked to exonerate the wrongfully convicted by examining their cases and subjecting both the evidence and the trial process itself to close scrutiny. Mark led a team of barristers and bar student volunteers committed to providing high-quality legal representation to those who maintained their innocence.

Mark helped set up a UK based group, Amicus, which became a leading charity working on the death penalty in the USA. As a Trustee he created a training programme on US criminal procedure and constitutional law enabling the organisation to send hundreds of lawyers to the USA to assist the representation of inmates on death row.

Mark spent some time working in Palestine with the Bar Human Rights Committee and on return set up Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East. The group is now one of the largest and most influential in the Labour Party. He has organised a number of events both in Parliament and at Labour Party conference. He has debated at numerous universities on the Middle East, he has lectured, chaired events, written articles in major newspapers, appeared on the BBC, Sky, the Today programme, CNN and many other mainstream news agencies.

Mark has produced numerous briefs and documents that have been submitted on behalf of defendants in the UK and, through his work with Amicus, in the USA and international tribunals. He has been involved in a number of campaigns that have led to Early Day Motions being tabled in Parliament and has lobbied Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister.

Mark has worked across the political spectrum on a number of issues including human rights in the Middle East, the Godard Independent Inquiry into Sexual Abuse, and the campaigning for the Human Rights Act and the abolition of the death penalty.

Areas of Practice

Criminal Defence

Post -Conviction Appeal and Miscarriage of Justice

International Law specialising in Middle East and US Constitutional and Human Rights Law

Inquests and Inquiries

Notable Cases

R (on the application of Sehwerert) v ECO Cuba [2015] EWCA Civ 1141. Lead counsel (leading Stephen Knight) on an intervention by a group of MPs in an entry clearance application at the Court of Appeal, appealing against the decision of the Home Secretary to refuse entry to one of the Cuban Five. The application was successful and established a firm precedent on the value of parliamentarians' Article 10 ECHR rights including their entitlement to have information imparted to them. The Applicant was represented by Shivani Jegarajah.

R v Otway [2011] EWCA Crim 3. Appeal against conviction for murder (use of evidence from a podiatrist for the purpose of identification and joint enterprise).

R (Michael Stone) v Criminal Cases Review Commission (2012). Judicial review of the CCRC.

R v Nuds [2008] EWCA Crim 148. Appeal against conviction for murder (use of evidence from a cell confession).

R v Michael Stone [2005] EWCA Crim 105. Appeal against conviction for murder (cell confession, fresh evidence).

R v Benjamin Geen. Appeal against conviction for murder x 2 (fresh expert evidence).

R v Coelho [2008] EWCA Crim 627. Appeal against conviction (admissibility of confession).

R v Paton [2007] EWCA Crim 1572. Appeal against conviction for kidnapping (jury direction).

R v Hussain [2007] EWCA Crim 859. Appeal against conviction (jury direction).

R v T (A Juvenile) [2001] EWCA Crim 1282. Appeal against sentence.

R v Onyeabor. Appeal against conviction for serious drugs offence (summing-up in 19 minutes for a 16 day trial was unlawful).

R v Cundell. Appeal against conviction for conspiracy to murder (jury direction on cell confession).

R v Jack Dempsey. Appeal against conviction for murder (jury direction and fresh evidence).

R v Ismail Cowell. Appeal against conviction multiple counts of robbery (failure to investigate defendant’s low IQ).

Publications and Training

Amicus Curie Brief submitted to US Appellant Courts: Comparative Analysis of Miranda and PACE

Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the Magna Carta

Execution of persons with low IQ and International law

The Execution of Juveniles and International Law

Tribune Articles

“Our country remains a discrimination nation” (14 January 2012)

“Reconciliation and a Palestinian Nation” (21 May 2011)

“Limiting private prosecutions for crimes against humanity” (December 2010)


“STOP Building Hatred” – Pamphlet on the Israeli Wall (2010)

“Peace and security in the Middle East. What should Labour Party policy be?” Editor (September 2012)

Speaking Events and Seminars

Mark regularly lectures on international human rights law and has been invited to debate at a number of Universities including the Cambridge Union. Mark has given lectures for the Bar Human Rights Committee where he lectured a delegation of Chinese lawyers on the international perspectives of the death penalty.

Mark is the current chairman of the Lincoln’s Inn Bar Representation Committee where he sits on a number of committees.

Awards, Scholarships, and Prizes

In 2009 Mark was the minority pro bono lawyer of the year.

Professional Memberships

Criminal Bar Association

Society of Labour Lawyers

Amnesty International


News about Mark McDonald

1 2 3 4