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Gus Silverman

Solicitor

Biography

I represent clients who have been harmed by the unlawful actions of the police and other state agencies, including the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service. I also represent clients bringing legal actions against private companies delivering services within the criminal justice system.

Many of my cases concern complaints and civil actions against the police. These include seeking accountability on behalf of clients who have been:

  • Unlawfully arrested or otherwise detained
  • Subjected to unlawful force
  • Maliciously prosecuted
  • Harassed by the police, including in relation to the unlawful use of stop and search powers
  • Discriminated against, including racially and in relation to a disability (which can include a failure by the police to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability)
  • Subjected to treatment which otherwise breaches their legal rights, including in relation to the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act. 

I also act for the families of loved ones who have died in police or prison custody or following contact with the police.

My notable cases include:

  • Acted for the family of Callum Smith in an inquest concerning his death in HMP Bristol. An inquest jury concluded that Callum’s death had been caused by a long list of failings on behalf of the police, prison service and healthcare providers, including repeated failures to recognise and respond appropriately to Callum’s risk of self-harm and suicide (Covered by the BBC, May 2017).
  • Acted for the family of 19 year old Ondrej Suha in an inquest concerning his death in HMYOI Brinsford. An inquest jury concluded that Ondrej’s death was caused by being told that he could be deported to Slovakia, where he had not lived since he was four years’ old, just before being locked away for the night. The jury further concluded that the prison had breached Ministry of Justice guidance on when an ambulance should be called and expressed concerns over training for prison officers as well as failures to communicate and coordinate clearly within the prison (Covered in the Guardian, March 2017).
  • Acted for the family of Abbi McAllister in an inquest concerning her death whilst detained under the Mental Health Act. Inquest proceedings concluded that Abbi’s death had been contributed to by neglect (Covered in The Guardian, January 2016).
  • Acted for the mother of ‘Child H’ in an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Child H was arrested and restrained by Sussex Police officers (including by way of handcuffs, leg straps and spit hoods) on multiple occasions when she was 11 years old and suffering from a neurological disability. The investigation resulted in findings that various officers had cases to answer for misconduct (Covered in The Guardian, June 2016).
  • Successful civil action against the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police on behalf of an army veteran who was Tasered by police officers during a mental health crisis. The claim settled for £50,000, reportedly one of the highest settlements in a Taser case (Covered in The Guardian, September 2016).
  • Successful claims against the Chief Constable of Sussex Police brought on behalf of peaceful protesters who were arrested during an anti-austerity demonstration in Brighton. The claimants received remedies including damages, a letter of apology, the destruction of their personal information retained by the police (fingerprints, DNA profiles and custody photographs) and an admission that officers acted unlawfully.
  • A successful claim against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis after a client’s house was searched by officers who failed to confirm whether the intended target of their search still lived at the property.
  • A successful claim against the Chief Constable of Essex Police on behalf of a client who was arrested after officers disseminated inaccurate information about him.
  • A successful claim against the Court Service after a magistrate issued a defective search warrant resulting in the claimant’s house being unlawfully searched.
  • A successful claim against the Home Office on behalf of a client who was unlawfully detained under immigration powers for one month whilst he was a child.
  • A successful challenge to a police caution issued to a mentally vulnerable detainee after he was interviewed in the absence of an appropriate adult. The caution was overturned.
  • Numerous successful police complaints and appeals to the Independent Police Complaints Commission resulting in findings that officers had cases to answer for misconduct.

Prior to qualification I trained at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in London where I worked on a number of high profile cases, including:

  • The second inquest concerning the death of 14 year old Adam Rickwood, the youngest person to die in custody in modern times.
  • The death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died whilst being restrained by G4S security guards during an attempted forced removal from the UK.
  • ZH v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis concerning the prolonged restraint of a severely autistic young man by police officers during a school trip to a swimming pool. This was the first case to find that officers had breached their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and had subjected a claimant to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Upon qualification I practised at Fisher Meredith in London where I continued to develop my expertise in the field of civil liberties law in general, and actions against the police in particular.  

In November 2014 I moved to Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, from where I continue to represent claimants and complainants from across England & Wales.

Testimonials 

Gus Silverman is "impressive" - Legal 500 2014





Read My Comments On The Latest News

  • 20/09/2017
    Mental Health Trust Pays Damages To Family Of Vulnerable Man Who Died In High Rise Fire

    “It’s extremely concerning that Bob was allowed to continue living on the seventh floor of a high rise block when the authorities knew that he was regularly lighting fires, living without electricity and suffering from a serious untreated mental illness. “It is particularly concerning that none of the statutory agencies involved in Bob’s case sufficiently understood the legal powers they had available to them to keep him and the other residents of Carolina House safe. “It is now incumbent on Bristol City Council and the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust to demonstrate that they have changed their practices and procedures following this shocking case.”

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  • 15/06/2017
    Civil Liberties Experts Call For Urgent Improvements At Unsafe Medway Secure Training Centre

    “The safety and welfare of young people housed within Medway’s walls should be the number one priority of staff. “The findings of this joint report are shocking and it is clear that urgent change is needed to safeguard the young people there and provide them with the life skills and positive behaviours to equip them for life outside of institutions. “I would urge HM Prison and Probation Service to act quickly on the report’s findings, not only to make urgent improvements but to offer reassurance to those whose children are living within the facility.”

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  • 25/05/2017
    Jury Finds a Series of Failings At Bristol Prison Caused the Death of Father-To-Be

    “From the point of his arrest until the day of his death Callum was obviously mentally unwell and profoundly vulnerable. It is truly shocking that someone this ill was in prison in the first place. “Callum repeatedly told police officers, prison officers and healthcare staff that he would kill himself. It is tragedy that no-one listened to him and took appropriate and obvious steps to keep him safe. “Witnesses at Callum’s inquest gave evidence about lack of training and understaffing. It has been said many times that the prison service is in crisis. However, there is no sign of the political will needed to make urgent improvements and to provide the necessary resources to ensure that more families are not left grieving the loss of their loved ones in prison. “A familiar mantra of ‘learning lessons’ is often repeated after deaths in our prisons. However, this is empty rhetoric so long as the prison service remains in crisis and we persist in sending seriously mental ill people to prison.”

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  • 29/03/2017
    Family Call For Lessons To Be Learned After Inquest Into Teenager’s Death At Young Offenders’ Institute Finds Series of Failings

    “The failures in this case are depressingly familiar from other prison deaths. Whether because of poor training, understaffing or simple lack of care HMYOI Brinsford failed to keep Ondrej safe. “This inquest has also heard worrying evidence that the prison service considers it is appropriate to allow prisons to operate with only one member of CPR trained staff on duty at any one time. Ondrej’s family now look to the head of the National Offender Management Service to act on the concerns of the Coroner regarding this policy. "Our society needs to ask itself how many more prisoners must die before prison safety is made a priority.”

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