CBE for leading QC

Though he's not sure about the "empire"

Congratulations to Ben Emmerson QC, awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Emmerson, who who one of the original members of Matrix Chambers and moved to Monckton Chambers last year, also announced that he would be leaving the bar at the end of this month to take on a “new challenge”.

Emmerson’s award appears in the Foreign Office list. He represented the widow of Alexander Litvinenko in the 2016 public inquiry into her husband’s assassination in London in 2006 by Russian agents who poisoned him with the radioactive isotope Polonium 210. He also represented the Government of Ukraine in a series of cases against Russia arising out of the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, the war in eastern Ukraine, and the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. He had previously represented the Government of Georgia following the Russian invasion of South Ossetia in 2008.

In Official Secrets, the recent film about the Katherine Gun case, Emmerson was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes (appearing opposite Kiera Knightley as Gun). In the 2019 Old Vic production of Lucy Prebble’s award-winning play A Very Expensive Poison — about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko — Emmerson was played by Thomas Arnold.

Responding to the award of his CBE, Emmerson said:

I was both chuffed and at the same time humbled when I heard the news. I am sensitive to the debate surrounding the continued use of the word “empire” in the name of the award, but from a purely personal point of view, it’s a great way to mark the end of what has been an amazing and rewarding 35 year career at the bar, and a great way to start the next chapter of my life. I am leaving the bar at the end of this month to move on to a new challenge, and this is a high note for me to go out on.

Apologies to other lawyers who have received awards. The full list was not available when I filed this story.