Paul is a lawyer, socialist and activist. He is the senior solicitor and founding member of the Public Interest Law Centre after many years working in the law centres movement.
He specialises in domestic public law work. His cases have not only helped affect real change for his clients, but have had a wider impact with many more people benefiting from his strategic approach to litigation
He has a real passion for using the law as a tool to help affect progressive social change for working-class people.
In the media
- Spycops Like Us – The Alexei Sayle Podcast, February 2022
- Law Against Workers: Shrewsbury pickets, political policing and the state, Socialism Today, 1st July 2021
- Legal chat with Paul Heron, Spycops Info podcast, June 2021
- A spycop headed Troops Out, Morning Star, April 2021
- Sri Lankan official fined over throat-slitting gestures in London, The Guardian, December 2019.
- Lawyer in the News, Law Gazette, November 2019.
- How Labour Councils fail us – and why they shouldn’t – The Justice Gap, June 2019
- UK arrest warrant for Sri Lanka attache over throat-cut gestures revoked, The Guardian, February 2019.
- (with Manal Tamimi, Paul Morris and Peter Lahti), Ahed Tamimi: a girl that fought back, Vaktel, 2018.
R (Ambrose) v Westminster Council( CO/7671/2010) – Representing the claimant in a judicial review to determine what duties were owed to her and her stepson following their placement in temporary accommodation within another borough while the child still attended a school in Westminster. The case revisited Stewart v Wandsworth, considering the provision of accommodation to those with children of school age outside the Housing Act 1996.
R (on the application of (1) Yonas Admasu Kebede (2) Abiy Admasu Kebede) v Newcastle City Council EWCA 960 Civ – Paul successfully represented the claimants arguing that s23C (4) (b) and the related provision s24B (2) do in fact cover tuition fees for children in care who have limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK. The local authority had to reconsider its decision and fund the claimants through higher education. This case helped hundreds of students who had been previously been excluded to go to university.
Hounga v Allen (Anti Slavery International intervening)  UKSC 47 – Paul successfully represented the interveners in this case. Whilst the case hung narrow points regarding illegality and discrimination on the grounds of nationality, the interveners brought in wider issues on a number of points concerning immigration, contract and employment law, establishing that a defence of illegality does not necessarily defeat a claim for discrimination.
Draper v Lincolnshire County Council  EWHC 2388 Paul successfully represented the claimant in this case. The Court agreed that the council had conducted a flawed consultation exercise and failed to consider alternative proposals when cutting library services. The planned cuts in library services proposed by the council were ruled unlawful, saving 15+ libraries across the county.
R (oao Sehwerert) v Entry Clearance Officer & others  EWCA Civ 1141m Paul acted on behalf of the interveners, a group of Labour MP’s from the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs. They intervened in the case of the Cuban Five, who had been convicted in the United States in June 2001 on charges relating to their activities as intelligence agents for the Cuban government. Serious concerns have been expressed by international human rights organisations about the convictions, sentences and fairness of the trials. In 2014 a group of UK parliamentarians invited the appellant in this case to meet with them in the Palace of Westminster. The client’s application to enter the UK was refused. The issue in these proceedings was whether the refusal of entry clearance was lawful, particularly given Art.10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court overturned the refusal to grant a visa and the applicant was granted entry clearance to speak at a number of Labour and trade union movement events.
R (on the application of Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills  UKSC 57– Paul successfully represented the claimant in this case. The client had discretionary leave to remain in the United Kingdom, but was ineligible for a student loan because of her immigration status. The Court of Appeal’s Civil Division allowed the appeal and found that the defendant, the Secretary of State, had adopted an unlawful ‘bright line’ rule in formulating the ‘basic category’ of eligible students. The case progressed to the Supreme Court, which found in our client’s favour. This was a significant decision with very wide implications: many young people previously held to be ineligible simply because they had the wrong type of lawful residence have benefitted from the overturning of the government’s policy.
Gunars Gureckis and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3298 (Admin) Paul successfully represented the three claimants in this case. The High Court quashed policy guidance from the Home Office, finding that: rough sleeping was not an ‘abuse of right’; that the policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA nationals and rough sleepers; and the application of the policy involved unlawful ‘systematic verification’ in breach of the express terms of Article 14(2) of the Directive. Paul instructed counsel Stephen Knight, One Pump Court; Shanthi Sivakumaran, Lamb Building; Natalie Csengari of One Pump Court and Marie Demetriou QC, of Brick Court
Mohinder Pal v London Borough of Ealing  EWHC 2154 (Admin) – Paul successfully represented a claimant, preventing the sale of a community asset. The High Court ruled that Ealing Council had acted unlawfully and unreasonably in their decision to sell Southall Town Hall, an iconic public building in West London used by many community group and charities. The Court found there was no evidence that Ealing Council’s Cabinet had even discussed or considered the social value of the Town Hall, and that, against government guidance, the council had failed to consider the option of selling the asset to the community itself. Although the Court did not formally rule on whether the council had complied with a legal duty to conduct a proper Equality Impact Assessment, it held that it would not have hesitated to rule in the claimant’s favour.
Majuran Sathananthan v Brigadier Primyanka Fernando (Westminster Magistrates Court) (Case no: 1801273043) – 6th December 2019 – Paul represented a private prosecutor in bringing a case against the Sri Lankan diplomat Brigadier Fernando. This culminated in a verdict on 6th December 2019. The Brigadier was found guilty, contrary to s4(1) and (4) Public Order Act 1986, of making throat cutting gestures that caused alarm and distress. As the judge commented, “I have no doubt he intended to cause at the least alarm. They were purposeful gestures, made as the Brigadier was staring at these protesters. The Brigadier was a senior officer in uniform wearing medals. Unlike the other senior officer there, his body language appeared to be arrogant and intimidating. There were three gestures and not just one. In the context of the relationship between Sri Lanka and Tamil Elam protesters he must have known that it would have been alarming at the very least to the protesters who saw him do this…The next issue for the court is whether I can be sure the complainants were caused harassment, alarm or distress. I have no doubt that alarm was caused to all three and that Mr Perera was distressed by what he saw.”
Warren, Tomlinson & Ors v R.  EWCA Crim 413 – 23 March 2021 – Paul represented Ricky Tomlinson and Arthur Murray in the appealing an historic conviction. Fourteen of the “flying pickets” known as the Shrewsbury 24, including Ricky and Arthur, won their appeals against conviction for picketing during the National Building Strikes of 1972. Paul instructed counsel Piers Marquis and Annabel Timan of Doughty St. Chambers. (Read the reports from Doughty St. Chambers here and the report from the Public Interest Law Centre here. Our Grounds in the Appeal can be found here.)
R v Thomas Brian Williams  EWCA Crim 270 – 17th February 2022 – Paul represented the family of Brian Williams, another of the Shrewsbury 24, in appealing his conviction at the Court of Appeal. Brian Williams’s conviction was also quashed in 2022.
Paul is instructed by a number of people and groups granted Core Participant status at the Undercover Policing Inquiry, including:
- former Labour MP Dave Nellist
- Hannah Sell and Lois Austin, Socialist Party activists spied on by undercover political police
- the national anti racist organisation Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE), whose anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning led to it being targeted and infiltrated by undercover police
- Richard Chessum and ‘Mary’, activists in the Troops Out Movement in the 1970s who were both subjected to surveillance and political policing
- Lindsey German, Chris Nineham and John Rees, former leading members of the Socialist Workers Party
- Stop the War Coalition
- Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
In 2022 Paul was instructed by Unite to assist in their inquiry into allegations that union officials colluded with the Consulting Association and construction industry bosses in blacklisting.