Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald

Call: 1997


Mark McDonald has a formidable reputation within criminal law. He specialises in criminal defence and has experience across all offences.  Mark has led in a number of trials involving serious offences.

Mark is regularly instructed in cases involving murder, serious assaults, rape, organised crime and Terrorism.  He is known for the thoroughness of his preparation, providing clear and concise advice to clients and in particular for his ability to get on with clients. He has considerable experience of dealing with defendant’s with profound psychiatric and psychological issues.

Mark advises regularly on appeals against conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal and continues to be involved in a number of high profile appeals against conviction including Michael Stone and Ben Geen.

In 2007 Mark founded the London Innocence Project, a non-profit legal resource clinic.  The project worked to exonerate the wrongfully convicted by examining their cases and subjecting both the evidence and the trial process itself to close scrutiny.  Mark led a team of barristers and bar student volunteers committed to providing high-quality legal representation to those who maintained their innocence.

Mark helped set up a UK based group, Amicus which became a leading charity working on the death penalty in the USA.  As a Trustee he created a training programme on US criminal procedure and constitutional law enabling the organisation to send hundreds of lawyers to the US to help assist the representation of inmates on death row.

Mark spent some time working in Palestine with the Bar Human Rights Committee and on return set up Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East. The group is now one of the largest and most influential in the Labour party. He has debated at numerous universities on the middle east, he has lectured, chaired events, written articles in major newspapers, appeared on the BBC, Sky, the Today programme, CNN and many other main steam news agencies. Mark also stood for Parliament at the last general election in 2019.

Mark has produced numerous briefs and documents that have been submitted on behalf of defendants in the UK and, through his work with Amicus, in the USA and international tribunals.  He has been involved in a number of campaigns that have led to Early Day Motions being tabled in Parliament and I have lobbied Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister.

Mark has worked across the political spectrum on a number of issues including human rights in the Middle East, the Godard Independent Inquiry into Sexual Abuse and campaigning for the Human Rights Act and the abolition of the death penalty. He has also appeared before the Privy Council representing inmates on Death Row in Jamaica and Trinidad.

In 2009 Mark was the minority pro bono lawyer of the year.

Mark in an advocacy trainer for Lincoln’s Inn and was one of the first to teach the Vulnerable Witness Training Course.

Mark is also a Bencher at Lincoln’s Inn.


Areas of Practice

Criminal Defence

Post Conviction Appeal and Miscarriage of Justice

International Law specialising in Middle East and US Constitutional and Human Rights Law



Notable Cases

R v Popovs – Murder

R v Hulme – Attempted murder

R v Halili – Attempted murder

R v E’Almeida – Attempted murder

R v Hulem – Attempted murder

R v Shepherd – Murder

R v Olegs Titovs – Murder

R v Yong Wang – Trafficking

R v Rimas Venclovas – Murder

R v Rashid- Terrorism

R v Civilikas –Importation of firearms

R (Michael Stone) v Criminal Cases Review Commission 2012 (Judicial Review of the CCRC).
R v Nuds [2008] EWCA Crim 148 – Appeal against conviction for murder (use of evidence from a cell confession).

R v Otway 2011 EWCA Crim 3 – Appeal against Conviction for murder (use of evidence from a Podiatrist for the purpose of Identification and joint enterprise).

R v Michael Stone [2005] EWCA Crim 105 – Appeal against conviction for murder (cell confession, fresh evidence).

R v Benjamin Geen – Appeal against conviction for murder x 2 (fresh expert evidence).

R v Coelho [2008] EWCA Crim 627 – Appeal against conviction (admissibility of confession).

R v Paton [2007] EWCA Crim 1572 – Appeal against conviction for Kidnapping (Jury direction).

R v Hussain [2007] EWCA Crim 859 – Appeal against conviction (Jury Direction).

R v T (A Juvenile) [2001] EWCA Crim 1282 – Appeal against Sentence.

R v Onyeabor – Appeal against conviction for serious drugs offence (summing- up in 19 minutes for a 16 day trial) was unlawful.

R v Cundell – Appeal against conviction for conspiracy to murder (jury direction on cell confession).

R v Jack Dempsey – Appeal against conviction for Murder (jury direction and fresh evidence).

R v Ismail Cowell – Appeal against conviction multiple counts of Robbery (failure to investigate defendant’s low IQ).

Publications & Training

Amicus Curie Brief submitted to US Appellant Courts:
 Comparative Analysis of Miranda and PACE
 Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the Magna Carta
 Execution of persons with low IQ and International law
The Execution of Juveniles and International Law

  • Legal 500 leading individual 2017