At Kingston Law School we award Honorary Doctorates to people who have achieved international academic distinction or held a leadership role, making a significant contribution to the field of law. They are people we think will inspire our current and future students.
2013 Honorary Award
Leslie Thomas – Kingston Law School graduate and specialist inquests and human rights barrister
Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD)
A graduate of Kingston Law School, Leslie Thomas is a specialist inquests and human rights barrister specialising in police and prisoner law and actions involving the state, with particular emphasis on individual civil liberties and human rights. Named Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2012 and ranked as ‘Star individual’ in the 2013 edition of Chambers UK, Leslie is regularly instructed as counsel to inquests by coroners and in police and prison inquests.
Leslie’s expertise in restraint-related deaths and deaths in custody has seen him receive instructions in several of the most high-profile cases in this field. Examples of his work include inquests into the deaths of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan, the latter of which precipitated the riots that started in Tottenham and eventually spread throughout the rest of the country in 2011.
Leslie’s work has received high praise. Sources attest to his ‘phenomenal’ advocacy, emphasising that he is ‘brilliant in front of a jury’. Leslie has also been described as a ‘dyed-in-the-wool claimant barrister’ whose performances are ‘equal or above those of QCs practising in the field’. He is considered ‘relentless in front of a jury’ and an ‘excellent cross-examiner’. Louise Christian of Christian Khan (lawyer to the Guantanamo Bay prisoners), who worked closely with Leslie on the inquest into the death of Wayne Douglas, which sparked the 1995 Brixton disturbances, said: “Leslie has done more for the families of those who die in custody or at the hands of the police than any other single lawyer. This is extremely difficult and not well-funded work that requires extraordinary dedication and persistence, and Leslie has all these things, as well as enormous empathy with clients.” Leslie was also described as ‘quite simply the best advocate for jury-led inquest cases’ in The Legal 500 directory, in the field of civil liberties and human rights (including public inquiry law and actions against the police).
Leslie is co-author of one of the leading textbooks on coronial law: Inquests: a Practitioner’s Guide and has produced/published numerous articles on prisons, reform of coronial system, deaths in custody and restraint deaths. Leslie also participated in the development of legislation on coroners law for INQUEST on proposed changes to coroners law reform. In addition, he writes a quarterly column in Legal Action on recent developments in inquest law. Lesley also recently took a break from the bar and decided to invest in his first movie, becoming an executive producer of the critically-acclaimed blockbuster We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Kingston University is pleased to honour Leslie Thomas with the award of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of his outstanding contribution to civil rights.