Phoenix Law is a leading legal firm specialising in media and data protection law.
Our dedicated team is at the forefront of safeguarding clients’ interests in the rapidly evolving landscape of media and data privacy. We provide comprehensive legal services, addressing issues such as defamation, intellectual property, and compliance with data protection regulations. With a wealth of experience in representing clients across various industries, we pride ourselves on offering tailored solutions to navigate the complexities of media and data protection challenges. We regularly act in cases against all media outlets including social media sites and posts.
Darragh Mackin has been described as ‘a rising star on the international legal scene’ (Irish Times) and a ‘Champion of the Cause’ (The Parchment). In July 2016, Darragh was the first ever Ireland based Lawyer to be nominated, and in turn to win, an award at the prestigious London Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.
He has developed a specialist practice in Human Rights, Public Law, Actions against Public Authorities and International law. He continues to appear in some of the most complex Inquests and Inquiries in Ireland, acting for 47 of the families in the Stardust Inquest, appearing in the Ballymurphy Inquest, the family of Morgan Barnard who was killed in the Greenville tragedy, and for the victims in the the child abuse Bill Kenneally public inquiry.
He regularly advises individuals and companies both domestically and internationally, with a particular specialism in data protection and privacy. Darragh recently advises on reputation management and the challenges emanating from the misuse of social media, GDPR, and an individual’s ‘right to be forgotten’ online.
He has acted in cases at all levels including in the Supreme Courts in London and Dublin, The European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures. He has acted for both individuals, companies and some of the most well known non-governmental organisations including Amnesty International, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and Extinction Rebellion. He has been instructed and advised on cases all around the World, including the USA, Spain, France, Sri Lanka, Malawi and the Cayman Islands. He also appears on behalf of a number of Basque prisoners currently pending consideration by the European Court of Human Rights.
Darragh was instructed for the NI Taxi Drivers group which resulted in the payment of £16.7million to NI Taxi Drivers, one of the largest in NI history. He is also currently instructed in a multi million pound claim in the Dublin Commercial Court arising out of the approach by insurance companies to indemnifying hotels during the Covid 19 pandemic.
In addition to practice, Darragh is an associate lecturer of Public Law at the University of Ulster and has delivered a number of guest lectures at Cambridge University, Trinity University, Queens University Belfast, and DCU.
HUMAN RIGHTS & PUBLIC LAW
Sarah Ewart & Amnesty International (The Abortion Litigation)
Darragh has appeared in many of the seminal human rights cases in recent times in Ireland. He acted for Sarah Ewart and Amnesty International to which saw the law changed in respect of abortion in Northern Ireland. Darragh was also labelled The Times ‘Lawyer of the Week’ for his work on this case.
The Hooded Men (Ireland v UK)
Darragh was instructed by a number of the Hooded Men in the application for revision of the Ireland v United Kingdom 1978 decision by the European Court of Human Rights on torture. In addition, Darragh acted in the landmark judicial review challenge Re Francis McGuigan to which the Supreme Court determined that the decision not to investigate was unlawful. Following this decision, the Chief Constable formally apologised to the Hooded Men.
Darragh is instructed by the family of Aidan McAnespie who was murdered as a result of a shot fired from a British army sanger in 1988. On June 2018, on foot of an application lodged on behalf of the family, a decision was taken to prosecute David Holden for the killing. In February 2023, this resulted in the first prosecution of a British Soldier post the Good Friday Agreement.
The Judgment can be accessed here:
The Glenanne Series (Re Edward Barnard & Others)
The Glenanne Gang were responsible for more than 120 murders between the years 1972 – 1978 in the area commonly referred to as ‘the murder triangle’. Darragh initiated Judicial Review Proceedings against the Chief Constable of the PSNI for the failure to conduct an overarching investigation into the allegations of state collusion arising out of the Glenanne Gang murders. In the seminal case of Re Edward Barnard, the Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful not to investigate the evidence of state collusion. As a result, the independent police team Operation Kenova headed by Jon Boutcher has now been appointed to investigate the state collusion in the 120 murders.
The relevant media footage can be accessed here.
Loughgall (Re Brigid Hughes)
Instructed by the Loughgall Truth & Justice Campaign and the families bereaved as a result of the shootings at Loughgall on 8th May 1987. Darragh was instructed before the High Court and Court of Appeal in respect of a decision taken by the Secretary of State that the decision to grant an Inquest into Loughgall was ‘National Security Sensitive’. In September 2015, the Advocate General announced that a fresh inquest was to be held into the fatal shootings at Loughgall. As a result of a political stalemate, the necessary funding for the legacy inquest system was withheld. In an unprecedented decision the Court ruled that the then former first Minister Arlene Foster MLA had acted unlawfully in failing to release the funding and quashed the decision. After initiating contempt of Court proceedings, the necessary funding was released to the Coronial Service for Legacy Inquests.
The relevant media footage can be accessed here:
Fergal McFerran – The Brexit Case (‘The Peoples Challenge’ – Gina Miller No.1)
In 2016, Gina Miller initiated legal action challenging whether the Royal Prerogative can override or undo Acts of Parliament. The challenge arose out of the controversial use of the prerogative to execute Brexit, and to leave the EU. A group of individuals including two British citizens living in France, a Gibraltarian national, a Welsh citizen and Fergal McFerran, president of NUS-USI formed the ‘peoples challenge’. Darragh was instructed by Fergal McFerran. The Supreme Court held by a majority, that the UK Government could not initiate withdrawal from the European Union without an act of parliament. This lase has been dubbed by legal commentators as one of the most significant constitutional cases of the decade.
The Covid 19 Schools Challenge (Re JR105)
Darragh was instructed by the parent of a child who was forced to attend school during the initial phases of the Coronavirus (or Covid 19) pandemic. It was argued that the child suffered underlying health conditions and therefore any attendance at school would have put her life at risk. The respondents confirmed that the child no longer had to attend school, and a decision was subsequently issued by the Minister of Education to close all schools in light of covid-19.
Legacy Pensions (Re Brian Turley )
Darragh acted for the applicant in the landmark challenge to the Executive Office and Secretary of State over their failure to implement and fund the Legacy Victims Pension. The Court of Appeal ruled that the Executive Office was under a legal duty to fund the Legacy pensions scheme.
INQUESTS & INQUIRIES
The Stardust Inquest
Darragh acts for the families bereaved as a result of the tragic fire at the Stardust Nightclub on Valentine’s Day 1981. In 2019, he made an application to the Attorney General in Dublin for a fresh Inquest into the deaths. He cited the fact that the investigations to date were inadequate and did not comply with human rights standards. In a landmark decision, the Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest to which is scheduled to begin in 2021. Darragh’s involvement in the campaign was described by some commentators as the ‘sea-change’ in the families’ forty year campaign for truth and justice.
The Glenanne Gang
Darragh also acts in the ongoing Inquest into the murder of Elizabeth McDonald at the Step Inn, Keady in 1976, in which the Court has been asked to examine the wider systemic allegations of state collusion. In tandem with the above, Darragh acts in an ongoing group action civil litigation for those families bereaved and injured as a result of the Glenanne Series.
The relevant media footage can be accessed here.
The Hickson Inquiry
Darragh acts for the victims of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile, Bill Kenneally. In 2018, he secured the opening of a public inquiry into the cover up and failings by the state relating to the activities of Mr Kenneally. Darragh is now instructed by the victims in the ongoing Inquiry currently being held in Dublin.
The Greenvale Tragedy
Darragh is instructed on behalf of the family of Morgan Barnard in the ongoing proceedings relating to the tragedy at the Greenvale Nightclub on St Patrick’s Day. He acts for the family in respect of the ongoing criminal proceedings into the police officers who attended at the scene.
The relevant media footage can be accessed here.
Darragh acted for the Irish Teenager, Ibrahim Halawa, who was detained whilst on holiday in Cairo, Egypt. Ibrahim was held in detention in excess of 3 years awaiting trial and faced the death penalty had he been convicted. Darragh acted for Ibrahim in seeking his return to Ireland, making submissions before the EU Parliament, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations. In October 2017 Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges before the Egyptian Courts and repatriated to Ireland.
Media coverage of the UN Intervention is available here.
Lisa Smith was a former Irish army soldier who travelled to Syria, and was eventually detained by the Turkish authorities as a suspected ISIS fighter. Darragh acted for Lisa in successfully securing her and her daughter’s repatriation to Ireland. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Counter Terrorism intervened in Lisa’s case. Lisa was the first alleged ISIS bride ever to be returned to Ireland.
Lisa Smith was Darragh was instructed by Lisa and her family in seeking her repatriation to Ireland. On foot of published concerns by the United Nations, In December 2019 Lisa and her two-year-old daughter were repatriated to Ireland.
In 2018 Darragh was one of the lawyers who travelled to Brussels to meet the then president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont and provided advice and assistance in respect of his ongoing bid against the extradition proceedings issued by the state of Spain.
The Tamil Litigation v PSNI
Darragh acted in a ground-breaking case in which a Tamil widow against the PSNI as the successor to the RUC for damages as a result of the murder of 10 of her relatives who were massacred by Sri Lankan’s Police in 1986. The basis of the case arose out of documents uncovered which demonstrated that the RUC had played a role in the training of ‘the Special Task Force’ in Sri Lanka.
In addition, Darragh acts for Mr Jeyasundaram, a teacher, who was convicted in Sri Lanka for involvement with the Tamil Tigers. He challenges the safety of the conviction on the premise that the confession was obtained by torture, and that the trial process lacked the relevant safeguards required under international law. The relevant media footage can be accessed here.
Keyu & Others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs & Another UKSC 2014/0203
This case is more commonly known as the Batang Kali Massacre case. Darragh acted for the interveners the Pat Finucane Centre & Rights Watch UK, two Non-Governmental Organisations whom are directly involved in ensuring human rights compliance in respect of the legacy of the past. Both interveners sought to make representations to the Court in respect of the applicability of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life) and its application in the context of ‘the troubles’. The Attorney General for Northern Ireland also intervened in this case.
Media coverage of this case is available here.
MEDIA, DEFAMATION AND DATA PROTECTION
Phil Miller v PSNI (2020)
Darragh acts for the renowned investigative journalist Phil Miller in an appeal against the Information Commissioner to uphold the refusal by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) to publish a report authored by Jack Morton from 1973, relating to MI5 and the structure of the RUC.
Re Fine Point Films(2019)
Darragh acted for the International media organisations, Index on Censorship and the English PEN in their role in the successful judicial review challenge to a search warrant imposed on two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland.
OH v Google LLP (2019)
Darragh acted for the Plaintiff in one of the first ‘right to be forgotten’ on foot of the Google Spain ruling. Google conceded and took steps to remove all images and webpages that appeared in respect of our client relating to a previous criminal trial they were involved.
Darragh was recently instructed to act for a number of individuals in their quest for greater protections for those who are tasked with removing harmful content from Facebook and other social media platforms. He is now instructed in an International Claim seeking compensation for those victims.
Dr. Te Li
Dr. Te Li is a legal executive at Phoenix Law who specialises in media, data protection and privacy law. Te now mainly assists a number of data breach and right to be forgotten cases against public authorities and high-profile tech giants. Te also has been involved in several defamation & privacy, criminal and immigration cases. Te is bilingual in Chinese Mandarin and English and could provide legal service in both language.
Before joining Phoenix Law, Te Li obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D) degree at Queen’s University, Belfast in July of 2022. This J.D degree is both a Professional Doctorate and a Qualifying Law Degree in England & Wales and Northern Ireland. In between times, Te completed his doctoral thesis, which focuses on the challenges of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) through the prism of UK privacy law. Te has proposed that ‘UK privacy law has adapted differently to different users, especially for private actors, even though the tort of misuse of private information has been developed expansively recently, it is still unclear how far it might apply to FRT. His research also critiqued the recent Court of Appeal’s judgment of Bridges v South Wales Police and ascertained whether the use of FRT is proportionate should be reconsidered further. Previously, Te had gained his LLB in Chinese law in South China University of Technology in 2018.
Te has also engaged extensively in various international academic programmes and has sound understanding of international law and multi/ cross-jurisdiction legal issues. Te is the participant of Fordham University’s Belfast/ Dublin Annual Summer Law School, the short-term exchanger with the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong and the Faculty of Law of University of Macau. Te has also been awarded ’The UK Chinese Teacher of the Year 2021‘.