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The Shipman files Monday, 31 January, 2000, 16:47 GMT
In defence of Shipman
Nicola Davies: A medical lawyer first and foremost
From the start, the odds seemed to be stacked against Nicola Davies QC.

Charged with defending Harold Shipman against 15 counts of murder, in most people's eyes she was on the "wrong side" in one of Britain's most spectacular criminal trials.

Miss Davies first heard she was "on board" the Shipman case when she received a telephone call while on holiday in Brazil.

Her initial response was not noted, but it's a fair bet she accepted the case with the kind of steely resolve that became her trademark during the ensuing trial.

Mixed reaction to court performance
Miss Davies on her way to Preston Crown Court
A medical lawyer first and foremost, Miss Davies, 46, is more at home in the civil courts and at public inquiries than amid the seamy world of criminal law.

Reaction to her performance at the Shipman trial has been mixed.

One local journalist said she had done an "amazing job" mounting a defence considering the dearth of evidence in Shipman's favour.

But others think her plummy southern tones did not help her cause and say she frequently resorted to sniping at the prosecution for want of any hard evidence.

Certainly, the London-based silk had something of a rough ride during the pre-trial hearings, when the judges were said to have been unhappy with her request that the case be held outside northwest England.

In the trial itself, she set out to pick holes in the prosecution's case and cast doubt in the minds of the jurors.
Nicola Davies QC
Born: March 1953
Educated: Birmingham University
Called to the Bar in 1976
Took silk in 1992
Became a court recorder in 1998
"Her tactics seemed to be to confuse the witnesses and point out discrepancies in their evidence," says the BBC's Allan Urry.

"She's on home turf with medical evidence and what she was trying to do was sow confusion." She and her junior cousel, Ian Winter, had been weaker in the criminal machinations.

Another journalist says she didn't exude the slick style of her prosecution counterpart.

"She came across as quite cold and clinical but she did better in the closing speeches. She muddied the waters well and seemed to eventually get a rapport with the jury," says Urry.

Impressive career

Despite the talk of a stiff English attitude, the 46-year-old QC was actually brought up in South Wales.

She did not harbour a burning passion for law, at least at the outset. She opted for a law degree at Birmingham University because she felt it was a "good basis for a career".
Notable cases
GMC - Dr Ken Taylor (GP charged with hastening death of patient by withdrawal of food) 1999
BSE inquiry 1998/9
GMC - Dr Ngosa (first case of HIV+ doctor heard before Professional Conduct Committee) 1997
Instructed by government to investigate allegations of child abuse in North Wales 1995
Sec of State for Home Office v Robb (rights of prisoner to refuse food and doctor to observe wishes)
After a spell as an investment analyst, she returned to the legal fold and was called to the Bar in 1976. It was the start of an impressive career which has seen her professional abilities called on in several high-profile cases.

She has acted in the Bristol heart surgeons case at the General Medical Council, the BSE Inquiry and the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry, and a 1989 case involving the sale of kidneys by Turkish nationals being operated on in Britain.

In 1992 she was made a Queen's Counsel and since 1998 has sat as a recorder in criminal and civil cases.

But unlike many of her contemporaries, Miss Davies does not plan to devote the rest of her life to work. Recently she told an interviewer that in 10 years time she would like to be back in Brazil, without a telephone.

Wherever she finds herself, she will probably be best remembered as the lawyer who defended one of Britain's biggest serial killers.

Find out more about the Shipman murders

Trial and reaction

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
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