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In memoriam: John RWD Jones QC | 14 June 1967 – 18 April 2016

John Jones

In memoriam: John RWD Jones QC | 14 June 1967 – 18 April 2016

With immense sadness we share the tragic news of the death of John Jones QC on 18 April 2016. John was a good friend, great colleague and a brilliant and creative lawyer. John was admired and appreciated for his amazing sense of humour, his professionalism and his deep commitment to justice and the rule of law.  

His death is a huge loss for all of us in Chambers, for the British and International legal profession but mostly for his family to whom we offer our sincerest and deepest condolences.  

Messages of support can be sent to and cards or letters can be sent to Chambers. Donations can be made to the Doughty Street Chambers John Jones QC Memorial Fund (Sort Code 20-77-67 and Account Number 93017451).


John Jones QC

The passing of John Jones QC on Monday 18 April 2016 is a monumental loss to the cause of international justice and human rights worldwide. He was a pioneer, at the forefront of establishing our modern system of international criminal justice, and a giant in the field.

While the horrors of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia were still raging, John was one of the first to arrive at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the first international tribunal since Nuremberg to prosecute and hold to account those committing crimes said to shock the very conscience of humanity. With a handful of lawyers John worked with the Tribunal’s judges to establish the procedures that would be used for these historic trials. He worked directly with the Tribunal’s first president, Judge Antonio Cassesse, who saw in John immediately the brilliance that would go on to define his career. From the ICTY John was dispatched to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where he contributed to drafting that Tribunal’s first Judgment on genocide.

When the Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in 2003, John was appointed as the Court’s first head of the Defence Office. He supervised a team of young lawyers and quickly took to mentoring and equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to represent those who were about to appear before the Court. John himself was a formidable advocate. His unique expertise and experience saw him called upon to act for defendants before almost every international criminal tribunal of the modern era: Naser Orić and Ante Gotovina/Mladen Markač before the ICTY, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi before the International Criminal Court, and suspects at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (established to investigate the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri). On hearing the tragic news of John’s passing, judges and colleagues of the Lebanon Tribunal paused to reflect and pay tribute: “Today, we are all wearing John Jones’ robe”.

John’s commitment to international justice will live on as the courts and international system he helped create continue to prosecute fairly, and hold to account those said to be responsible for the world’s worst crimes.

But John’s contribution to justice was not limited to the field of international criminal law. He fought for so many important causes worldwide: against the death penalty for Yong Vui Kong, a 19 year old sentenced to death in Singapore, for whom he acted on a pro bono basis; journalists and free speech before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; for an Ambassador-at-large detained in Panama by making representations to the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, the UN Special Representative on Torture and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and for former Liberian President Charles Taylor in seeking his transfer from the UK to a prison in Africa to serve his sentence. John fought fearlessly, tirelessly, and with brilliance for the poor, charismatic and unpopular alike.

As a preeminent extradition lawyer, John was called upon to represent governments and requested persons alike. He was a scrupulously fair prosecutor, once praised by the High Court for conceding a case ‘because he thought it the right thing to do’. Some of John’s notable extradition cases include his representation of the Government of Rwanda in seeking the extradition of alleged genocidaires; former Bosnian President Ejup Ganić in his fight against extradition to Serbia where he faced politically motivated charges; Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, in his fight against extradition to Sweden; and HH, the mother of three young children whose extradition was sought by Italy - in that landmark case before the Supreme Court John helped articulate and establish principles to protect the interests of young and vulnerable children when their parents’ extradition is requested.

John had a great moral courage in court and out. He had a quiet authority, and a precise and scholarly approach, but he was also capable of flights of flamboyant eloquence. One admiring extradition judge talked of John's ‘customary panache’ in presenting one of his ‘run of the mill’ cases. John prepared humbler cases with a rigour equal to that of his higher profile ones. He constantly gave his services for free, and his generous spirit and selfless devotion came at some cost. But he was courteous, cultured and funny even whilst he argued cases of the highest moral seriousness.

John was called to the Bar in 1992, having read Philosophy, Politics and Economics as an open exhibitioner at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University. He went on to obtain an M.A. in Law from City University in London and an LL.M. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. As well as the Bar of England and Wales, John was admitted to practise law in the District of Columbia, USA, the Kingdom of Cambodia, and at the Bars of Gibraltar, Kosovo and Rwanda. He joined Doughty Street Chambers in 2005, took silk in 2013, and became the first head of Doughty Street International on its establishment in 2014.

But more than the outstanding lawyer that was John, he was a loyal friend, decent to his core, a towering tribute to his parents Peggy and Hugh, the most loving and caring husband to Miša and father to Patrick and Zachary, who he simply just adored. His passing is a tragic loss to so many. We offer his family our sincerest and deepest condolences.

John Jones QC

Messages of support can be sent to and cards or letters can be sent to Chambers. These will be forwarded to John’s family, who will also be the beneficiaries of a fund we have set up in his memory. Donations can be made to the Doughty Street Chambers John Jones QC Memorial Fund (Sort Code 20-77-67 and Account Number 93017451 – for international payments the IBAN number is GB33 BARC 2077 6793 0174 51 and the SWIFTBIC number is BARCGB22).

We intend for this initial tribute, drafted by John’s colleagues in Chambers, to be only the start rather than the end of the process of honoring John and his many achievements. We recognize that there are many who knew him – friends, colleagues from the Bar, those in the international legal community and from elsewhere – who may wish to write their own appreciations which they would be happy to see published on our website. We and John’s family would welcome these, and we encourage you to send them to us by post or by email (to the address above) and a selection will be made available in due course.

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Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS
Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, 53-54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS