Who? Lee Adams, 31, solicitor-advocate and partner at London firm Hughmans.
Why is he in the news? Represented one of the defendants in the £4.5m landbanking fraud trial, dubbed Operation Cotton, that collapsed last week after His Honour Judge Leonard stayed the proceedings because none of the five defendants was represented by advocates. The prime minister’s brother, Alex Cameron QC, acted pro bono in the application after barristers and solicitor-advocates refused to undertake serious and complex cases due to fee cuts introduced in December.
Prosecutor the Financial Conduct Authority accepted that the unrepresented defendants could not have a fair trial and sought an adjournment. But Leonard ruled that ‘to allow the state an adjournment to put right its failure to provide the necessary resources to permit a fair trial to take place now amounts to a violation of the process of this court’.
The FCA will seek permission to appeal after Leonard refused to grant leave.
Thoughts on the case: ‘It was really difficult to convince people, including some of our co-defendants, that the argument could work. But the judge’s decision reaffirms my faith in the justice system in the sense that, clearly, judges will intervene when the fairness of a trial is threatened. The decision is unprecedented.’
Route to the case: ‘Word of mouth, as with all our cases. We live or die by our reputation in criminal defence. The firm has built up a formidable reputation over the years.’
Dealing with the media: ‘I found everyone to be very nice and straightforward, for which I’m grateful. The involvement of Alex Cameron QC enhanced the profile of the case and gave the press a good angle, but the collapse of a trial like this is very significant.’
Career high: ‘As a trainee, successfully overturning the conviction of a mentally vulnerable defendant whose previous team had unfortunately failed him.’
Career low: ‘Seeing some of the best barristers leave the job because of legal aid cuts.’