Who? Daniel Cooper, solicitor advocate, Imran Khan and Partners, London.
Why is he in the news? Represented the family of Christopher Kapessa, 13. A coroner ruled this week that Christopher died after being deliberately pushed into a river in a ‘dangerous prank’.
Thoughts on the case: ‘On the day of Christopher’s death, four and a half years ago, his mother, Alina Joseph, was told by police that he had stumbled and fallen into the river. Ms Joseph has had an unshakeable drive to get as close as possible to the truth. She has now been vindicated. The court decided that Christopher died after being deliberately pushed into the river. It was determined that the push was and is capable of meeting the criteria of being an unlawful act and one that caused his death. Ms Joseph also remains haunted by the injustice that her family endured throughout the police investigation into Christopher’s death. She deserved better. Christopher deserved better.’
In a statement following the ruling, South Wales Police said: ‘South Wales Police made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who examined our initial response and investigation into the circumstances surrounding Christopher’s death. We hope that this independent scrutiny and the outcome of the inquest will give us a greater understanding of the issues which have been raised.’
The IOPC said: ‘While it is clear that aspects of communication with Christopher’s family could and should have been handled better by South Wales Police, we found no evidence to justify bringing any disciplinary proceedings against individual officers. We shared with the force areas for potential learning and improvements, which centred on communicating appropriately with bereaved families.’
Dealing with the media: ‘I have been determined that the trauma and injustices Christopher’s family have endured are fully explained and reflected in the media. I think that has been achieved as we have had many supportive journalists who covered the case with care. Equally important has been the energetic and creative campaign in support of, and by, Christopher’s family – progress has been brought about by the extraordinary efforts of his family, friends and supporters. Their courage stands to benefits us all.'
Why become a lawyer? ‘To make a small contribution to creating a more humane, equal and just world.’
Career high: ‘Doing this job involves tough, careful and quiet work which is supremely rewarding and purposeful. The support and patience a lawyer provides can be life-changing. But what I and my brilliant colleagues are trying to do is not just empower families and individuals, but also to work collaboratively with them in a non-judgemental way. If done properly it can enable people to speak for themselves and have the confidence to take on those that fail them.’
Career low: 'The skills and attributes needed for specialist practice in this field - and particularly for those who put their skills exclusively at the disposal of those most in need - are not ones that are reflected in the systems which underpin it. One needs enormous persistence and incredible attention to detail. You only win cases or do justice by them by spending hours and hours of concentrated time on them. But the dwindling legal aid system - and the failure to treat the provision of legal support as a social good, like every other fundamental aspect of our human existence - be it health or education - is disastrous for justice and truth.'