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Michael Drury

“Michael Drury is praised for his mastery of complex financial crime cases and being fearless when dealing with the SFO and FCA, and other international investigating agencies. Sources note Michael is an “outstanding lawyer” who is “very sensible, very responsive, very determined and very committed” and “the most knowledgeable practitioner on issues of UK national security and surveillance.””

Chambers UK

Michael Drury joined BCL as a partner in September 2010 from GCHQ where for a number of years he was Director for Legal Affairs and a member of the main Board of Directors, having been appointed GCHQ’s first full-time legal adviser in 1996. He was called to the Bar in 1982 and subsequently admitted as a solicitor at the time of his move to GCHQ. Prior to that he was a tax lawyer in the City and then prosecuted for HM Customs & Excise and the Serious Fraud Office where he had the conduct of some of the most notable cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is the last of those who founded the SFO to remain in full time practice.

Michael’s practice is diverse, ranging from extradition, where he has successfully represented senior Ministers and others in former Soviet Union states and a number of significant Turkish businessmen (falsely alleged to be terrorists and part of the 2016 coup attempt) defeating extradition claims and securing the removal of and preventing the issue of Red Notices; representing individuals in regulatory proceedings brought by the FCA (in LIBOR and other matters); acting in criminal investigations by the SFO (including for corporates and individuals in bribery and corruption cases, and in LIBOR), as well as in fraud investigations by a variety of police forces in England and Wales; to achieving successful outcomes for clients in investigations by the Information Commissioner’s Office, in the spin off from National Crime Agency (‘NCA’) investigations into ‘blagging’.

Michael has recently successfully avoided attempts by the NCA to obtain an Unexplained Wealth Order against individuals who were under threat of this, leaving his clients free to deal with their assets as they wished. He is also representing other clients in resisting actions sought to be taken by the NCA on the basis of mutual legal assistance being provided to criminal investigators overseas.

Notably, Michael represented individuals, including the deputy head of MI6, in the Metropolitan Police investigation into the alleged involvement of British officials in the transfer of individuals to Libya under the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi: that six year investigation resulted in no prosecution. Michael has a special expertise where the criminal law interacts with national security and official secrets.

Michael’s work in the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’) is notable, with him having been part of the team of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta against whom proceedings before the Court were discontinued by the prosecutor on the basis of, amongst other things, analysis suggested by Michael. He is instructed in ongoing ICC matters being investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor.

Moreover, given his background and continuing instructions, Michael is a leading expert on surveillance and investigatory powers (as well as information law and cybercrime) advising a number of corporates about their obligations under the UK regime and its interaction with the regimes overseas. That expertise was acknowledged by the invitation to give public evidence in April 2016 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in respect of the human rights compatibility of the Investigatory Powers Bill (as it then was). Michael also provided evidence to David Anderson QC – the then reviewer of terrorism legislation – in his “Bulk Powers” review. Michael has provided a very substantial body of advice about the effect of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (‘IPA’), concentrating on the implications for ‘tech companies (UK and overseas) and especially in the light of the dynamic and changing jurisprudence concerning electronic surveillance powers in the UK coming from the Strasbourg Court, the European Court of Justice, and the English Courts and Tribunals.

This practice builds on Michael’s unique experience at GCHQ, where he had control of the full range of legal issues. He has unrivalled expertise in the fields of interception and surveillance, being responsible in part for the drafting of the IPA’s predecessor (which is still to be seen in the current law) and its secondary legislation, and taking part within Government in every subsequent consideration of the law in this area. Aside from being part of the team managing GCHQ’s legal relations with communications service providers and gaining a deep understanding of the law in this area, he was involved in all of the significant litigation concerning interception under RIPA. From that time he has wide experience of acting in public inquires, resisting challenges to Government action in the surveillance field (especially in relation to interception and the collection of communications data), and disclosure in civil and criminal litigation (including asset freezing) where issues of public interest immunity and the ban on the use of interception as evidence were to the fore.

Michael was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2011 New Year’s Honours list.

What the directories have said:

Michael Drury is a phenomenal lawyer with decades of experience with data protection and national security issues. He consistently provides strong legal and strategic advice.”

Legal 500, 2023

Michael Drury is the doyenne of national security law and this provides him with real expertise when it comes to cyber security issues.”

Legal 500, 2023

He’s a very good lawyer, he’s also not afraid of getting involved with the detail of the case and excellent at handling high net worth clients.”

Chambers HNW, 2022

He is a brilliant and conscientious lawyer, particularly in the fields of security and intelligence, data and extradition.”

Chambers HNW, 2022

“In addition to having an acute legal mind, Michael Drury is a brilliant strategist. He is always several steps ahead and looks at an issue from every angle possible to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He is a whip-smart and savvy lawyer who really knows his stuff.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He is straightforward, knowledgeable and incredibly capable. He adds a dimension to the discussion that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Chambers UK, 2022

“He is the doyen of fraud practitioners. He has been around a long time. What he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. He is vastly experienced, straight-talking, practical and straight-thinking. The clients trust him to get them through difficult territory.”

Chambers Insights, 2022

“Michael Drury has a particular string to his bow because of his former work for the government, so he has particular expertise for cases involving a government dimension or involving issues of public law. He is wonderfully enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and a very steady hand.”

Chambers Insights, 2022

“He has great judgement and achieves great results. Michael has vast experience from his time at GCHQ and works tirelessly for his clients.”

Chambers Insights, 2022

“Michael Drury does a lot of extradition work and is really good. He’s whip-smart and has been around a long time.”

Chambers Insights, 2022

“Ian Burton and Michael Drury are giants in this field. Hugely committed and with great experience, they give their all to their clients, and the results show this.”

The Legal 500, 2021

“… his expertise in intelligence matters and the crossover with fraud and corruption is unmatched.”
“… real class act”
“… wonderful, talented practitioner” who provides “really brilliant analysis.”

Chambers UK, 2020

“He has an absolutely excellent reputation,”
“He is well regarded in the sector.”

Chambers HNW, 2020

“Michael brings both tactical nous and a manner and approach that clients love.”
“Michael is the doyenne of national security law and provides a unique angle from which to advise on data protection matters given this background.”

The Legal 500, 2020

“He wins the confidence of clients and gets results. He has a wealth of experience in highly sensitive cases, particularly in the intelligence and security field where his expertise is unparalleled in the market”

Chambers UK, 2019

“… is fabulously tenacious and works really, really hard for his clients,”
“… has a very interesting background which can be very helpful for clients.”

Chambers HNW, 2019

“… decades of experience and a tenacious approach to cases he undertakes”

The Legal 500, 2019

“… an intellectual heavyweight whose points run a coach and horses through the other side.”

Chambers UK, 2018

“He has demonstrated that he is fearless when dealing with the SFO and FCA, and other international investigating agencies.”
“… excellent in giving firm, but good advice, with the client’s best interest at heart.”

Chambers UK, 2015

Articles by Michael Drury

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