Fiona Barton KC, Francesca Whitelaw KC, Bilal Rawat, Beatrice Collier, Cicely Hayward, Alice Meredith, John Goss and Jack Palmer appear in the Inquests arising out of the Reading Terror Attack

29 April 2024

On 26 April 2024, the Rt Hon Sir Adrian Fulford PC, a retired Court of Appeal judge sitting as a Judge Coroner, handed down his conclusions in the Inquests into the deaths of Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails. The three men were murdered in a terror attack in Forbury Gardens, Reading on 20 June 2020. The attack was perpetrated by Khairi Saadallah who subsequently pleaded guilty to three charges of murder and three charges of attempted murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Inquests concluded that the deaths were unlawful killings. Sir Adrian also found that there was inadequate intelligence assessment and sharing on the part of multiple agencies, which led to Saadallah’s risk being seriously underestimated. Had this been different, the attack would probably have been prevented. He also found that mental health care for Saadallah was fragmented and left him in a ‘Catch-22’ situation. Had it been better, the attacks could possibly have been prevented. Sir Adrian will be making a variety of prevention of future deaths reports in due course.

The Inquests were heard over 6 weeks in January-February 2024 at the Old Bailey. The full factual findings and Records of Inquest will shortly be posted on the Chief Coroner’s Website here:

Members of 5 Essex Chambers were instructed in the Inquests as follows:

  • Fiona Barton KC and John Goss were instructed by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, including Counter Terrorism Policing South East;
  • Beatrice Collier, Cicely Hayward and Jack Palmer were instructed by the Secretary of State for Justice;
  • Francesca Whitelaw KC and Alice Meredith were instructed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, including MI5;
  • Bilal Rawat was instructed by MTC.

5 Essex Chambers is a specialist set for inquests and public inquiries, particularly those involving national security, terrorism, policing, and the legal system.

As well as these inquests, in recent years members of chambers have appeared in the London Bridge, Westminster and Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests and the Manchester Arena Inquiry, and are currently appearing in the Dawn Sturgess (Novichok) Inquiry and the Inquiry into alleged extra-judicial killings by UK Special Forces in Afghanistan.


Fiona Barton KC

Call 1986 | Silk 2011

Francesca Whitelaw KC

Call 2003 | Silk 2023

Bilal Rawat

Call 1995

Beatrice Collier

Call 2004

Cicely Hayward

Call 2009

Alice Meredith

Call 2013

John Goss

Call 2015

Jack Palmer

Call 2022

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