Mark McDonald

  • Year of Call 1997

Instruct Mark



Mark is a dedicated, specialist defence lawyer who has acted as leading counsel in a wide variety of serious criminal and regulatory offences.  He is known for his work on appeal cases including cold case appeals on sentence and conviction.  

In addition to his high-profile criminal work, Mark is known for tackling regulatory issues, including a recent claim against an IVF clinic for damages. 

Mark is known at the Bar for the thoroughness of his preparation and his ability to provide clear and concise advice to clients. He treats all clients with respect whatever the issue and is known for being able to make a professional connection even where a client is vulnerable and may suffer from profound psychiatric and psychological issues.  He is committed to ensuring that each client receives sympathetic, high-quality advice and representation.  

He is advocacy trainer for Lincoln's Inn.

Mark regularly lectures on international human rights law and has been invited to debate at a number of universities, including the Cambridge Union. Mark has given lectures for the Bar Human Rights Committee where he lectured a delegation of Chinese lawyers on the international perspectives of the death penalty.

Mark is the current chairman of the Lincoln's Inn Bar representation committee where he sits on a number of committees.

Mark is the founder of the London Innocence Project, a non-profit legal resource clinic, which works to exonerate those wrongfully convicted by examining their cases and subjecting both the evidence and the trial process itself close to scrutiny.

Mark helped set up a UK-based group, Amicus, which became a leading charity working on the death penalty in the US. 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 assist the representation of inmates on death row. 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 internationally.

Mark has visited 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 organised a number of events both in Parliament and at Labour Party conferences. He has debated at numerous universities on the Middle East, lectured, chaired events, written articles in major newspapers and appeared on the BBC, Sky, the Today programme, CNN and many other mainstream news agencies.

Mark has been involved in a number of campaigns that have led to Early Day Motions being tabled in Parliament and has lobbied Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister. He has worked across the political spectrum on a number of issues, including human rights in the Middle East, the Goddard Independent Inquiry into Sexual Abuse, and campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty.

Notable Cases

Notable Cases

Mark's recent cases include:

R (on the application of Sehwerert) v ECO Cuba [2015] EWCA Civ 1141 - Lead counsel on an intervention by a group of MPs in an entry clearance application at the Court of Appeal, appealing against the decision of the Home Secretary to refuse entry to one of the Cuban Five. The application was successful and established a firm precedent on the value of parliamentarians' Article 10 ECHR rights including their entitlement to have information imparted to them.

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 (Michael Stone) v Criminal Cases Review Commission [2012] - Judicial review of the CCRC.

R v Nunds [2008] EWCA Crim 148 - Appeal against conviction for murder (use of evidence from a cell confession).

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

R (Michael Stone) v Criminal Cases Review Commission [2012] - Judicial review of the CCRC.



Criminal Bar Association

Society of Labour Lawyers

Amnesty International



Amicus Curie Brief

Amicus Curie Briefs 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

Tribune articles

"Our country remains a discrimination nation" (14 January 2012)

"Reconciliation and a Palestinian Nation" (21 May 2011)

"Limiting private prosecutions for crimes against humanity" (December 2010)


"STOP Building Hatred" - Pamphlet on the Israeli Wall (2010)

"Peace and security in the Middle East. What should Labour Party policy be?" Editor (September 2012)

Awards & Prizes

Awards & Prizes

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