1994 Called to the Bar
Demonstrates real strength in all he does. He is self-reliant, fearless and an amazing one-man band when he needs to be.
A strongly analytical barrister who is very good with clients. He is known for his efficient, results-oriented approach.
A confident advocate.
Capable of running things without hand-holding.
Thinks outside the box.
A dynamic character.
Precise and analytical, distilling facts easily.
Chambers & Partners & Legal 500 2008 - 2011
William’s approach to the claim was 1st class throughout. He was cheerful, unpretentious, readily available when called upon and able to respond to the actions of an unpredictable opposition. At trial his strategy and straight-forward manner ensured that the client’s case was perfectly presented. I am continuing to instruct William and hope that we can remain a successful team.
Dominic Crossley – Partner, Collyer Bristow
Areas of work
- Privacy and Confidence
- Data Protection
- Reporting the Courts
- Injunctive Relief
- Malicious Falsehood
- Professional Negligence
William is a leading specialist in defamation, breach of confidence and privacy law. Prior to joining 5RB he practised for 18 months as a criminal barrister during which time he gained invaluable experience as an advocate, appearing in court on a daily basis.
Cambridge v Makin Sole counsel for the Claimant at trial and in the Court of Appeal. At trial justification, qualified privilege and malice were in issue. The defences failed, malice was proven and the Claimant was awarded £30,000 in damages (in addition to £30,000 already paid by a co-defendant in settlement). In February 2012 the Court of Appeal upheld the findings of the trial judge.
Spiller v Joseph Sole counsel for the Claimants in the first defamation case to be heard by the Supreme Court. Success in the Court of Appeal was followed by defeat in the Supreme Court. Leading case on the honest comment defence.
Frank Warren v Random House Claimant's junior in his successful claim against Random House which setlled in his favour following a string of victories at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.
Purnell v Business F1 Magazine Sole counsel for the Claimant at trial and on appeal. At trial secured a damages award for the Claimant of £75,000, which exceeded the trial judge's recommended ceiling of £60,000. Award upheld by the Court of Appeal.
William has also acted for:
- the Haringey social worker, Sylvia Henry, in securing favourable settlements against Haringey Council and a number of newspapers in regard to allegations concerning her involvement in the Baby P case;
- Paramaswaran Subramanyam, the Tamil hunger striker wrongly accused by The Sun and the Daily Mail of eating during a hunger strike;
- Dominic Raab MP in his claim against the Mail on Sunday over allegations of workplace sexism and bullying, securing a favourable settlement following a failed attempt by the Defendant to strike out the case; and
- the solicitor Mark Lewis in his claim against the PCC and its Chair, Baroness Buscombe, over allegations relating to the phone hacking scandal.
Privacy/breach of confidence
H v Tomlinson First instance decision refusing to strike out claim in privacy overturned in the Court of Appeal.
KJO v XIM Application to render a spent conviction private further to Article 8 and the Data Protection Act. Claim deemed to be arguable but would have to await trial for determination.
Hutcheson v MGN Acted for MGN in resisting an application by Gordon Ramsay's father-in-law for a privacy injunction.
Margetson v NGN and Paul Gascoigne v NGN Successful mixed privacy and defamation claims against The Sun.
Carina Trimingham v Associated Newspapers Ongoing claim in privacy and for harassment against the Daily Mail.
Peter Abbey v Associated Newspapers Ongoing case concerning publication of emails in breach of confidence.
Phone hacking Currently acting for a number of phone hacking claimants. Acted for Kieren Fallon and Tracey Temple as junior counsel prior to their cases settling in the week before trial. Currently acting for, among others, Paul Burrell.
In 2010 William gave presentations to the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee on the current state of English defamation law and to the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies on jurisdiction/applicable law in defamation claims.
In 2011 he wrote the Bar Council's Law Reform Committee's paper submitted to Parliament in regard to the formulation of the Defamation Bill.
He appeared in two editions of the BBC documentary series See You in Court regarding his involvement in the case of Paramaswaran Subramanyam, the Tamil hunger striker, and advising Lembit Opik not to sue the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle.
Panellist with David Aaronovitch, Peter Oborne and David Allen Green at the Frontline Club in a discussion re Celebrities, super-injunctions and phone hacking.
William has appeared on Sky News on several occasions in order to discuss privacy injunctions.
He is a CEDR accredited mediator.
Consistently recommended as a leading defamation junior in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500.
(17 Oct 2002)
(19 Sep 2013)
The University of Liverpool, BA History (incl.sabbatical year as President of the Students' Union)
Common Professional Examination (College of Law)
Bar Vocational Course (Inns of Court School of Law)
Holley v Smyth
 QB 726;  2 WLR 742;  1 All ER 853
Defamation - libel - interim injunction - justification - whether motive of publisher relevant
Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd
 EWHC 2375 (QB);  EMLR 8
Defamation - Allegations published in print and on website - Reynolds privilege - Preliminary issue - Police officer - Allegation of corruption - Police investigation - Anonymous ources
Wood v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police (CA)
 EWCA Civ 1638;  EMLR 449; The Times, 13 December 2004
Defamation - libel - qualified privilege - summary judgment - slander - amendment to add case in slander after the close of evidence at trial - s.32A Limitation Act 1980 - CPR 17.4
RFS Capital LLC & RFS Capital BV v MD7 Europe & Michael Gianni
6 October 2009
Slander - Malicious falsehood - Causing loss by unlawful means - Notice of discontinuance - Costs - Non-party liability for costs - s.51(3) Supreme Court Act 1981 - CPR 48.2
Purnell v F1 Business Magazine Ltd & Another
 EWCA Civ 744;  1 WLR 1
Defamation - Justification defence struck out - Jury to determine quantum of damages - Effect of the prior reasoned judgment re the strike out on vindicatory element of the jury award
Warren v The Random House Group Ltd (Nos.1-3) (CA)
 EWCA Civ 834;  QB 600;  EMLR 1
Defamation – Libel – Offer of Amends – Defamation Act 1996 – Justification – Articles 6 & 10 ECHR - Burstein particulars – Aggravated damages – Disclosure – Lucas Box meaning - Polly Peck – Severable and distinct charges
Joseph & others v Spiller & another
 EWCA Civ 1075
Defamation - Fair comment - s.6 Defamation Act 1952 - Public interest - Words capable of being comment - Justification - Breach of contract - Employment Agencies & Employment Business Regulations 2003
Jan Cambridge v Guillermo Makin
 EWHC 12(QB)
Libel - trial - judge alone - justification - qualified privilege - malice - joint tortfeasors - damages