All-Party Parliamentary Group appoints Cornerstone Barristers’ Sam Fowles as Counsel at inaugural event and announces inquiry into policing of Clapham Common vigil

16 Mar 2021

Public Law and Judicial Review

All-Party Parliamentary Group appoints Cornerstone Barristers’ Dr Sam Fowles as Counsel at inaugural event and announces inquiry into policing of Clapham Common vigil

At its inaugural meeting the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Democracy and the Constitution – a cross-party group run by Members of the Commons and Lords with a view to improving parliamentary and public understanding of constitutional issues – announced an inquiry into the policing of the Clapham Common vigil.

The APPG’s purpose is to facilitate engagement amongst the houses of Parliament and the public. It will provide a forum for discussion and debate about constitutional and democratic issues, allowing for better-quality parliamentary debates. The group will link MPs with constitutional experts from the bar, roll, and academia who will provide written and oral briefings and advice.

The emergence of this Group highlights the need for legislators to better understand the legal complexities they are being faced with in today’s world and how to properly navigate them. From international trade agreements that arise out of Brexit to powers of local authorities and how these relate to the central state; to civil liberties such as the right to protest to the Government’s review of administrative law, there is a real need to bridge the gap of knowledge when MPs are debating these issues.

Cornerstone Barristers is pleased to announce that Dr Sam Fowles has been formally appointed Counsel to the APPG. Fowles will lead a panel made up of constitutional lawyers of all levels of seniority, and will be the first port of call in advising the Group on all manner of constitutional issues as they arise.

Dr Fowles’ first task will be to advise the Group’s inquiry into the Clapham Common Protests which will collect written evidence from the Metropolitan Police, organisers, attendees, and independent experts. The Group will hold public hearings in April and report its findings at an event in early May. The inquiry will focus on whether key constitutional rights, such as free expression and assembly, were properly protected at the vigil and the implications of this for the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently before the Commons.

Cornerstone Barristers has been involved in some of the most significant constitutional cases, including Miller II following the prorogation of Parliament and representing the Scottish National Party in relation to the 2019 election debate.

Dr Fowles has resigned all political affiliations and will be maintaining his full practice.

Dr Fowles says: “Constitutional issues shouldn’t be the preserve of abstract theories. They affect ordinary people every day. The Clapham Common vigil is a perfect example of this. In a democracy it’s incredibly important that both legislators and citizens can understand and engage productively with constitutional and democratic issues and I’m looking forward to working with the APPG to make this happen.”

The inaugural event was attended by the APPG’s chair , Geraint Davis, as well as the Group’s officers including Lord Garnier QC, John Nicholson, Daisy Cooper, and Dawn Butler. Dr Sam Fowles of Cornerstone Barristers and EU and constitutional barrister, Jessica Simor QC both spoke at the event.