Masters of the Bench
Professor Johanne Delahunty QC
Full Title: Professor Johanne Delahunty QCCategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 22.11.2011
Call Date: 25.11.1986
Johanne (Jo) Delahunty comes from a single-parent family, went to state schools, and was the first member of her family to stay in education beyond the age of 16 – even to contemplate university. Her school careers adviser did not recommend it: Jo was told that she was ‘bright enough to work in a bank, but not front of house’ as she had ‘too much attitude’ (which Jo would prefer to call ‘an independent and enquiring mind’).
She won a place to St Anne’s College, Oxford and read Jurisprudence. One can only hope her careers adviser has followed her success…
She practises from 4 Paper Buildings, Temple. Jo took Silk in 2006, was appointed a Recorder in 2009, and elected a Bencher in 2011. She was made Gresham Professor of Law in 2016, a role that she takes in addition to her Silk practice.
Jo found her vocation in family law, and child protection work became a passion. She rose to prominence for her work in contentious cases involving complex medical evidence and the death of, or catastrophic injuries to, a child. Her specialisms include ‘fabricated induced illness’ cases and ‘shaken baby’ allegations, where genetic and benign conditions can mimic abuse. Jo also confronts child abuse allegations arising from inter-generational and inter- sibling sexual abuse; ritualised abuse; ISIS radicalisation allegations; and cases involving vulnerable adults.
Alongside her practice in the family division, Jo was instructed from 2013-16 on behalf of 77 of the bereaved families in the Hillsborough Inquest. She has received many ‘outstanding achievement’ awards for this work.
She is outspoken on matters of concern to the Bar and was in the vanguard in raising issues to practitioners, such as judicial bullying and sexual harassment within the profession. She has sought to make the workings of the family justice system more transparent and explicable.
She is Patron of the charity Amend (Association of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Disorders).
In 2019 Jo received the Freedom of the City of London, marking the centenary of votes for women.