Political Affairs

We act for organisations and individuals in the space where law and politics meet, from inquiries and investigations with a political dimension through to challenging decisions made by public bodies

At the centre of political events with a legal dimension for over 40 years

"They are outstanding; they combine high-level legal skills with real human understanding."

Legal 500 UK, 2021

Our highly experienced and multi-disciplinary team of lawyers have a longstanding reputation for representing clients in cases involving political affairs, ranging from constitutional matters to judicial reviews, public inquiries, Select Committees, politically motivated persecution, electoral and campaigning law, and regulatory investigations.
 

Kingsley Napley has been at the centre of political events with a legal dimension for over 40 years. Our founder Sir David Napley represented Jeremy Thorpe, the former Liberal Leader accused of conspiracy to murder his lover Norman Scott, in one of the cause celebres of the last years of the 20th century.  His acquittal was the first in a number of notable cases that the firm has undertaken over the years from high profile criminal cases such as Pinochet; through major public inquiries, e.g. Hutton (in which we represented the serving Prime Minister), Leveson and Iraq; and significant challenges to Government, most recently in respect of the 2019 General Election on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Party. We are non-partisan, having acted for politicians from all major parties, but all our distinguished team have highly attuned political antennae which means both that we understand the perspective of our clients and also that we are able to give first class strategic as well as purely legal advice. 

As well as acting for political organisations and individuals across the spectrum, we also act for those wishing to challenge decisions made by government and the executive. Our team is consistently recognised for its public inquiry expertise, with over twenty five years of experience representing individuals, public figures and organisations in all the major inquiries. With significant experience acting for individuals in the public eye, we have advised high profile individuals and campaigning groups on regulatory and criminal action arising out of investigations into the use of data analytics in political campaigns, as well as in relation to the election expenditure of individuals and criminal complaints relating to election offences.  Our international work includes dealing with the suite of issues that may arise from politically motivated persecution.

Our team is highly sophisticated, astute and supportive. We are particularly well known for our skills in providing strategic advice and achieving the best possible outcome for clients. 

How we can help

Constitutional

Recognised as impressive contributors to public law (Legal 500, 2021) and known for the breadth and depth of our expertise, we have a long track record in high profile constitutional cases, covering the Pinochet affair, police searches of the Houses of Parliament, the constitutional status of Chief Constables, as well as our recent work acting in challenges linked to Brexit campaign finances and the 2019 General Election broadcast coverage.

Our work frequently touches on the scope of parliamentary sovereignty and the actions of the executive where parliamentary scrutiny has been limited, including successful challenges to secondary legislation brought by key clients, including the Law Society

Our cases frequently concern fundamental human rights, often with an international dimension and we acted for the International Commission of Jurists and CORE in the Supreme Court in Okpabi v Shell UKSC 2018/0068 in connection with the scope of international human rights standards.

For more information please contact one of our Constitutional Lawyers.

Judicial Review

Our market leading public law team (Legal 500, 2021) acts for individuals and organisations wishing to challenge decisions made by government and the executive. We are well known for politically inflected work and we act for political organisations across the spectrum, including a judicial review connected to the 2019 General Election coverage and an appeal against penalties imposed by the Electoral Commission for overspending during the Brexit referendum campaign. 

We frequently advise on and issue challenges linked to key government policies, including successful challenges to secondary legislation brought by clients, including the Law Society, and we are well versed on the government’s Brexit statutory instrument programme. 

The depth of our experience extends to local political affairs, where our advisory work includes considering consequences linked to the cancellation of the May 2020 local elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For more information please contact our Judicial Review lawyers.

Public Inquiries

The political response to any catastrophic event of national significance is invariably to establish a public inquiry.  We have over twenty five years of experience representing individuals, public figures and organisations in all major inquiries: "Legal advice is always given with an awareness and deep experience of the wider legal context (in our case, public inquiries) and a sensitivity to the client’s objectives.” (Legal 500 UK 2021). 

In a political context, we have been instructed in all the politically sensitive public inquiries in recent years, in particular, the Hutton inquiry, the Leveson inquiry, and the Iraq inquiry.  We have acted for politicians, civil servants, senior business people, as well as other senior figures in public life. Stephen Parkinson and Adam Chapman, as former senior government lawyers, are particularly sensitively attuned to the political nuances and reputational risks that arise out of such inquiries. Sophie Kemp is “intellectually talented” with substantial expertise in major public inquiries including in connection with the Under Cover Policing Inquiry and Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

For more information please contact our Public Inquiry lawyers

Select Committees

We have extensive experience of advising witnesses caught up in Select Committee investigations whilst at the same time being under investigation by the police and other bodies or involved in a public inquiry.  We can navigate the difficult issues that arise including possible contempt proceedings and the sub judice rule.

Parliamentary Select Committees examine the work of governments departments and specialist subjects. In recent years House of Commons Select Committees have been expansionist in their outlook, moving beyond their original Departmental remit to look more widely at controversial and topical issues such as the Windrush scandal.  They are willing to examine areas of political controversy even if separate investigations are under way.  For instance, the Culture Media and Sport Committee examined the phone hacking scandal notwithstanding the fact that there was an active police investigation underway, followed by a public inquiry.  Equally, the Intelligence and Security Committee examined issues connected with the Iraq War and allegations of torture, notwithstanding the fact that police investigations and judicial inquiries covered the same ground. 

For more information please contact our specialist lawyers.

Politically motivated persecution

We have many years of experience in dealing with the suite of problems that may arise from politically motivated persecution, ranging from extradition requests, to immigration issues, to problems relating to attempts to freeze or deny assets, and the reputational issues that frequently ensue. Our market leading extradition and international team has a proven track record in defending politically motivated extradition requests, and we work closely with our immigration team where necessary to ensure that persons who have been targeted in such cases receive international protection. Alongside this, we are able to advise clients on the steps they can to take to protect their reputation, from dealing with media scrutiny, protecting their reputation, privacy and security online to challenging their profiles on compliance databases, which can pose a significant threat to their financial and business interests. We regularly successfully challenge INTERPOL red notices, either pre-emptively or in obtaining their removal from the database. We have extensive experience in dealing with politically motivated attempts to restrain or deny assets under powers which have recently been extended in the UK. We have represented former heads of state, overseas members of parliament, as well as business people who find themselves targeted for political reasons, or subject to a corporate raid. Recent work includes supporting persons facing such threats from Russia and CIS states as well as the Middle East and Asia.  

For more information please contact our specialist International lawyers.

Electoral and Campaigning Law

The legal regime governing election campaigns is a complex one. Navigating it has been made more difficult by the new campaigning frontiers of the digital age; and the emergence of important political actors outside of the mainstream political parties. Those involved in political campaigning and lobbying can find themselves unexpectedly entangled in election law when the line between those activities and electioneering becomes blurred.

We are immediately familiar with the wide range of enforcement powers (criminal and civil) open to the Electoral Commission; and can draw upon expertise across highly regarded Criminal Law, Public law, Dispute Resolution and Regulatory departments to advise on a range of issues arising from elections and campaigning.

We have advised:

  • On regulatory and criminal investigations into the election expenditure of individuals, campaigning organisations and political parties.
  • Corporations who have been the subject of criminal complaints relating to election offences.
  • A major political party in respect of televised debates during a general election.
  • High Net Worth individuals in respect of donations to political parties.

For more information please contact our specialist Electoral and Campaigning lawyers.

Regulatory Investigations

The nature of political parties and campaigning groups means that they are often dealing with high volumes of sensitive data about individuals’ political views; and dealing with contentious matters that can cause offence, upset and legal difficulties. We have advised individuals and campaigning groups on regulatory and criminal investigations arising out of the investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office into the use of data analytics in political campaigns; and advised in connection with duties under the Equalities Act.  

For more information please contact our specialist regulatory investigations lawyers .

 

Further information

If you would like more information or require advice in relation to any of the above areas, please contact our multi-disciplinary team of Public Law, Criminal Litigation and Reputation & Media lawyers.

Stephen Parkinson

Public Law

Criminal Litigation

Inquiries and Investigations

Senior Partner

Sophie Kemp

Public Law

Public Inquiries

Partner and Head of Department

Legal advice is always given with an awareness and deep experience of the wider legal context (in our case, public inquiries) and a sensitivity to the client’s objectives.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

In dealing with the firm, every aspect was outstanding and of the highest quality."

Chambers UK 2021

They are able to draw on expertise across the firm to provide a seamless service - if you are facing criminal allegations they can also handle the media, as well as any employment issues or regulatory proceedings that may arise." 

Chambers UK 2020 - A Clients guide to the UK Legal Profession

They have an excellent reputation, they have a very broad team and they have strength in depth."

Chambers UK 2020 - A Clients guide to the UK Legal Profession

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