Vanessa has a unique practice consisting of both criminal and civil jurisdictions, which means she can offer the skills and experience gained as a criminal advocate but also the discipline and detail that civil paperwork brings. Prior to taking Silk in 2018 Vanessa was regularly ranked in Legal 500 as a leading junior in Crime.
Her practice in crime is split between prosecuting and defending and she is well known as a specialist in rape matters and other difficult, complex sexual offences including historic allegations and those involving child witnesses. Vanessa possesses fine attention to detail and a strong work ethic, which combined with her relentless tenacity (particularly involving issues of disclosure) and effectiveness as a jury advocate, make her the obvious choice whether prosecuting or defending. It is testament to this that within a week of taking Silk, she was instructed in the only two murders in the East Midlands by both the defence and prosecution involving stabbing by young defendants. In short, she always goes the extra mile and leaves no stone unturned, consistently achieving acquittals when defending ‘hopeless’ cases and regularly secures convictions in ‘difficult’ prosecution cases.
She also deals with manslaughters, attempted murders and murder, robbery and serious violence, modern slavery, high value drugs matters. She had extensive experience being led in multi-handed murder inquiries for both prosecution and defence, including acting as the prosecution Junior on the Hilda Murrell investigation, where her pre-trial work involved heading up a police team reviewing 100,000 documents for the purposes of disclosure and PII hearings.
Her background as a Registered General Nurse at a London teaching hospital means that she is a first- choice candidate for criminal cases concerning complex medical issues and causation, such as baby shaking cases. She also defends GPs accused of sexual offences against patients in the Crown Court, for the medical defence organisations.
In 2009-10, she was Counsel to the Airedale Inquiry, calling and cross-examining hospital managers, doctors and nurses into the management and practices of Night Nurse Practitioners at Airedale NHS Trust, concerning nurse prescribing and IV administration of opiates, following a stayed murder prosecution against a senior NNP. It was through her meticulous analysis of the voluminous amount of documentation that she discovered a file that had been missed by the prosecution team, which wholly exculpated the NNP from any wrong-doing.
In relation to her civil practice Vanessa acts predominantly for claimants in inquests and clinical negligence and over the years has accrued a vast amount of experience representing patients both at trial and in mediations, concerning complicated medical and legal issues.
“Her work includes rape cases and matters with medical elements.” Legal 500 2016
“A first-rate advocate, who goes above and beyond for her clients.”
Legal 500 2016
Vanessa has been recognised as an up and coming junior in the field of clinical negligence by The Legal 500. Her practice is primarily Claimant based. Her experience includes spinal injuries, cardiac, surgical procedures, neo-natal, birth mismanagement and cerebral palsy, dental, gynaecological and delayed diagnosis cases.
Her previous career, as an RGN specialising in acute medicine and surgery, has proved invaluable for this area of practice, not only in relation to the practical experience gained in the clinical setting, but also as to the day to day operations of a busy hospital and the multi-disciplinary teams working within it.
Vanessa predominantly acts for the Defendant in personal injury cases and she is frequently instructed by the major insurance companies. She undertakes a broad range of personal injury work, including employers’ liability and road traffic claims.
Local authority liability is a particular area of focus and Vanessa is often instructed in stress at work and bullying claims.
She also has extensive experience in failure to educate claims and receives regular instructions on behalf of defendants in claims concerning failure to detect and treat dyslexia and other special educational needs. As junior counsel to Kate Thirlwall QC, Vanessa appeared for Leicestershire County Council in the successful defence of over 100 claims brought as a class action.
Vanessa has published and given seminars on the topic of failure to educate.
Vanessa’s practice also extends into the regulatory/disciplinary arena. Over the years, she has appeared in the Care Standards Tribunal, where she successfully defended a social worker who was challenging the decision to include him on a list of those deemed unsuitable to work with children. Given her clinical negligence experience and the work she does for the medical defence organisations, defending doctors in the Crown Court, she is well placed to represent professionals in disciplinary proceedings and has appeared before the General Dental Council on behalf of a dentist facing allegations of gross misconduct. A good example of her dual practice is that she then represented the same dentist in a civil fraud action bought by the NHSLA in the QBD. She also has experience in prison law, having been instructed in both adjudication and parole board hearings in prisons around the country.
Whilst a private Inquiry, Vanessa was instructed at short notice to act as Counsel to the Airedale Inquiry (chaired by Kate Thirlwall QC (now Thirlwall LJ), between 2009 and 2010. The Terms of Refence set out to analyse the management and practices of Night Nurse Practitioners (NNP) at Airedale NHS Trust, concerning nurse prescribing and IV administration of opiates, following a stayed murder prosecution against a senior NNP. The brief involved Vanessa having to assimilate voluminous amounts of documentation so as to advise the Inquiry solicitors as to which witnesses should be called to give evidence and then giving an Opening statement to the Inquiry, followed by calling and cross-examining 100’s of witnesses, consisting of hospital managers, doctors and nurses from the Trust. It was through Vanessa’s meticulous analysis of the voluminous amount of documentation that she discovered a file that had been missed by the original prosecution team, which wholly exculpated the NNP from any wrong-doing.
Vanessa is committed to protecting and respecting the privacy of individuals. In order to provide legal services, including advice and representation services, Vanessa needs to process personal data. This will include client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the course of any matter upon which she is instructed.
Please click here to see how Vanessa will, absent any other arrangement with those instructing her, fulfil any Joint Controller responsibilities she may have under relevant data protection legislation.