Alex Preston, Criminal Defence and Inquest Solicitor
Alex specialises in serious crime and inquests. In the criminal courts she has represented clients facing the most serious charges: murder, drugs and firearms importations, historic sexual offences (often acting for teaching and medical professionals) and manslaughter by gross negligence. Many of these cases have been very high profile.
Alex is specifically commended as a ‘Next Generation Lawyer’ in the 2019 Legal 500. She is described as “very competent and experienced”. The editorial in 2017 commented ‘the clever, tough but sensible’ Alex Preston is representing a high-profile politician being investigated by the police in respect of historical rape allegations. Preston is a ‘defender through and through and provides a ‘private client’ quality of service even in publicly funded cases.”
Alex was also recommended in both the 2016 and 2015 editions of the Legal 500 for Crime. The editorial praised her “accurate analysis and exemplary client skills” as part of the crime team at Olliers which “delivers a top-quality service and covers a range of serious, high-profile cases“.
Qualifying as a solicitor in 1997, Alex studied at Manchester University before gaining a Masters in Legal Studies. She joined Olliers in March 2014, following building up a considerable reputation as a partner in two Manchester practices. She is a solicitor advocate who appears in both the Magistrates and the Crown Court.
Alex has used her experience in criminal litigation to build a considerable practice in the coroners courts, representing individuals who are involved in differing capacities in inquests. She has represented police doctors following deaths in custody, custody staff within custody suites where those deaths have occurred, detention officers involved in deportations as well as families of the deceased. She has particular expertise in representing those who either have faced criminal investigation or who may face criminal investigation following an inquest.
She has extensive experience of representing employees of private security companies in that context through IOPC investigations, police investigations, the criminal courts and inquests. Her inquest practice has expanded in to public inquiry work. She has represented parties involved in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and also the Manchester Arena Inquiry, following the bombing in May 2017.
Alex was appointed an Assistant Coroner sitting part time in Manchester (North) in October 2018. This judicial post has given her practical and invaluable experience of how inquests are best dealt with.
With a real commitment to providing extremely high quality legal services Alex is one of a select few criminal lawyers in the UK who has been appointed a consultant peer reviewer by the Legal Aid Agency. This role involves inspecting other criminal law firms in the country and assessing their quality standards. She is a crime supervisor within our practice.
Alex has taught criminal litigation on the Legal Practice Course at both Manchester Metropolitan University and BPP Law School. She enjoys teaching and uses those skills to deliver training on criminal law, the role of the defence solicitor and courtroom skills to CID officers at multiple police forces across the country.
She has defended Greenpeace activists on charges of criminal damage and aggravated trespass and enjoys dealing with those arrested during public protest. She has a particular interest in representing clients with psychiatric and/or learning difficulties.
Autism and Neurodiversity
Alex is recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts on the representation of autistic clients, neurodiverse clients and clients with learning difficulties. She receives referrals from all over the UK to do this work. In 2019 she gave evidence at the Houses of Parliament to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism to assist them when considering the criminal justice system, as well as to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for their report on disability and access to justice. She sits on the Criminal Justice Panel at the National Autistic Society, London, and the Greater Manchester Learning Difficulties and Autism Consortium, Manchester. She helped develop a strategy with Greater Manchester Police for dealing with autistic suspects. She has delivered training to solicitors, barristers, judges and other professionals at multiple events, including the Inns of Court College of Advocacy’s inaugural conference on Vulnerability and Power in London. She has trained all Olliers lawyers on the specific needs of autistic clients. We aim to provide such clients with a brilliant, effective and sensitive service.
In June 2020 Alex was asked to speak to the Equality and Human Rights Commission as part of their inquiry into whether the justice system treats disabled defendants fairly. In the below video she shares her experience of representing disabled clients and those with mental health conditions in the criminal justice system.
Alex is also committed to providing an excellent service to LGBT clients.
Appointments and Memberships
- Assistant Coroner for Manchester North 2018
- Founding member of Women in Criminal Law
- Association of Women Judges
- Finalist Solicitor of the Year 2018 Manchester Legal Awards 2018
- Next Generation Partner, Legal 500 2020
- The Coroners Society
Alex’s Recent Articles
- Alex represented an autistic young man charged with sexual offences in relation to an underage girl. Following obtaining expert evidence about his social communication difficulties and how they affected his reasonable belief that the complainant was over 16, the CPS discontinued the case on the first day of trial.
- Alex represented an 88 year old man who was charged with murdering his wife. Read more
- Alex represented a nurse in a prison who was investigated for manslaughter following a death in custody. The police did not charge.
- Alex represented a prison governor following a death in custody. The police did not charge.
- Alex represents a party involved in the Manchester Arena Inquiry.
- Alex represented a politician who was a witness at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
- Alex has successfully represented Simon Danczuk MP in respect of separate investigations by Lancashire Police and the Metropolitan Police in two allegations of rape. In both cases Mr Danczuk was not charged and the police took no further action . Read more Read more Read more Read more Read more Read more
- Alex represented a Manchester man convicted in 2014 of a historic rape. The client’s family came to Alex post conviction and our appeal to quash the Conviction was successful. At a re-trial in October 2016 he was acquitted.
- Alex represented a senior education consultant being investigated for historic sexual offences as part of a complex police investigation into abuse at residential schools in the North West of England. Following consideration of the matter, the CPS took no further action.
- Alex represented a newspaper executive during Operation Golding, the Met Police investigation into allegations of phone hacking at Mirror Group Newspapers.
- Alex represented an autistic man charged with the possession of a large number of indecent images. The client avoided a prison sentence and was given a community order.
- Alex represented a football executive in Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the Hillsborough Tragedy. Read more
- Alex successfully defended 3 former employees of a private security company facing trial at the Old Bailey following the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man who died on a British Airways flight at Heathrow Airport. Following trial all three were found not guilty in a unanimous verdict by the jury. Read more
- Alex successfully defended a North West based footballer during the National Crime Agency investigation in to football match fixing. Following considering representations made about the reliability of the witness known as the “Fake Sheikh”, Mazher Mahmood, the CPS took no further action. Read more Read more
- Alex is instructed to represent a defendant in the first ‘Silk Road’ prosecution in the UK. Read more
- Alex is instructed to represent detention officers and managers following a death in custody at Harmondsworth Detention Centre.
- Alex represented two defendants charged with possession of a very large amount of indecent images Read more Read more
- Alex represented a world renowned conductor charged with a sexual offence that arose out of teaching at Chetham’s School of Music. Read more
- Alex represented a Manchester paediatrician charged with sexual offences arising out of Operation Notarise. Read more
- Alex represented a woman with significant learning difficulties who faced a manslaughter trial, following the death of a family member who had drunk concentrated vinegar in an effort to cause a miscarriage. The client was acquitted. Alex also obtained legal aid to represent the client during the subsequent inquest at which no blame was attributed to her and indeed the Coroner criticised the CPS’s decision to ever charge her. Read more
- Alex represented a young woman charged with murdering her two young children in North Manchester. The client eventually pleaded guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Alex also obtained legal aid to represent the client at the subsequent inquest at which the 999 response was criticised by the coroner. Read more
- Alex successfully defended the manager of the Segregation Unit of a private prison in a high profile and unusual manslaughter trial, following the death of an inmate in custody. Read more
- Alex successfully defended an RAF flight lieutenant who was the co-pilot of a Puma helicopter that crashed during manoeuvres at a military base, causing multiple fatalities. Following a two year investigation, the police took no further action. Read more
- Alex defended the key defendant in the ‘Merchants of Death’ gun importation conspiracy case, the biggest of its kind in the UK. Read more
- Alex represented three employees of a private security company who ran a Secure Training Centre for children. Following the death of a child during a restraint procedure, there was a long running police investigation in to the death. The clients were not charged, but the Youth Justice Board was heavily criticised at the subsequent inquest for sanctioning potentially dangerous restraint techniques and following this, new guidelines were released for the restraint of children in custody. Read more
- Alex represented an American citizen who was extradited from New York and tried in the UK for a ‘cold case’ murder that dated from the 1980’s, involving the dismembering and dumping of a body in a bag in to a reservoir in Oldham.
- Inquest in to the death of RE – Represented a police surgeon who examined a man who died in custody in a Suffolk police station. The Jury made no criticism of his actions in their narrative verdict. Read more
- Inquest into the death of WB – Represented a police surgeon who examined a man who died in police custody in North London. Again, the jury made no criticism of his actions.
- Inquest into the death of PT – Represented an ambulance driver who the police alleged had failed to secure a wheelchair properly. The chair tipped over and the person using it died. Following a lengthy police investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge the client with gross negligence manslaughter. Alex also successfully represented the client at the subsequent inquest. Read more
- Inquest in to the death of NR – represented a custody officer from a Staffordshire police station where NR died in custody. The jury made no criticism of the officer’s actions. Read more