An absolutely first-rate public lawyer whose advocacy is very effective indeed

Chambers UK

A terrific worker” – Legal 500 2014/2015 (Administrative and Public Law)

A delightful advocate with an excellent reputation” – Chambers UK

She has a really effective manner. She’s very relaxed, very conscientious and the judges trust her” – Chambers UK 2015 (Administrative and Public Law)

A highly rated junior barrister who offers expertise and experience in terrorism-related cases amongst others…” – Chambers UK 2015 (Extradition)

“Very experienced – she can be trusted to handle complex cases on her own” – Chambers UK 2015 (Extradition)

Melanie has been appointed to the Attorney General’s A Panel of Counsel (Civil). Ranked as a leading junior in the fields of administrative and public law, extradition and crime, Melanie acts in a variety of sensitive and complex cases, focusing on inquests, public inquiries, judicial review, extradition and immigration proceedings.

She is instructed as junior for the Home Secretary in the public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko and for the Ministry of Defence in the Al-Sweady Public Inquiry which is investigating allegations of murder and torture by British forces in Iraq in 2004. She appeared for the Ministry of Defence in the inquest into the deaths of McCaughey and Grew, which concerned the shooting by British forces of two IRA terrorists in 1990.

Contempt of Court

Melanie has substantial expertise in contempt of court. Most recently, she appeared for the Attorney General in contempt proceedings brought against three individuals for breaching the injunction protecting the identity and whereabouts of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson (convicted of the murder of James Bulger).

Melanie was  led by the Attorney General in contempt proceedings brought against Mirror Group Newspapers and News Group Newspapers, arising from reporting of the arrest of Christopher Jefferies on suspicion of involvement in the death of Joanna Yeates in Bristol in December 2010.

Melanie has been instructed in a number of other recent contempt cases, such as Attorney General v. Joseph Beard (juror contempt) and Solicitor General v. Jennifer Jones (an alleged breach of a civil order requiring the return of children in family proceedings).

National Security and ECHR

A significant element of Melanie’s practice involves national security work. She appears in national security appeals before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Court of Appeal (recently, B2 v Secretary of State for the Home Department (terrorist training with Al-Qaida in the Yemen; statelessness) and Y1 v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Islamic extremism in the FATA).

Melanie’s practice has a strong human rights emphasis and she has experience in acting proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. She is instructed for the United Kingdom Government in the Application brought by Stephen Gough (also known as ‘the Naked Rambler’) and in a number of applications arising from the actions of the security forces in Northern Ireland (McCaughey v UK; McDonnell v UK; Hemsworth v UK).

Extradition and Crime

Melanie is consistently recommended as a leading junior in the fields of extradition and crime. She has been involved in many of the most complex and high profile extradition cases of recent years. She specialises, in particular, in fraud and terrorism cases involving the United States of America, the Russian Federation and Spain.


Legal 500 2017 C&P 2018



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  • Member of the Attorney General’s Civil Panel of Counsel (A Panel).


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  • Sunley Scholar of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn.
  • MA (Hons) Modern Languages (French and Spanish), Oxford University.


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  • Bilingual in Spanish
  • Fluent in French.

Privacy Notice

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To view Melanie Cumberland’s Privacy Notice, please click here.

Notable cases

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Spain v Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui

An alleged plot by members of ETA to kill the King of Spain, as well as the murder of a police officer and the causing of terrorist explosions.

Government of the United States of America v Abid Naseer

An alleged Al-Qaeda plot to cause explosions in Manchester City Centre in 2009.

Government of the United States of America v Tesler and Chodan

Foreign bribery on a massive scale, relating to the procurement of a liquefied natural gas contract in Bonny Island, Nigeria.

Murua v Central Court of Criminal Proceedings, Madrid, Spain

Alleged membership of the terrorist organisation ETA, and involvement in several terrorist attacks in the Basque country.

Azevedo v Criminal Court of Lisbon, Portugal

Leading Counsel in the extradition proceedings of Joao Antonio Vale e Azevedo, the former President of the Benfica Club in Portugal.

Spain v Jamil Al Banna and Omar Deghayes

Al Banna and Deghayes were arrested upon their arrival in the United Kingdom from Guantanamo Bay, on European Arrest Warrants issued for membership of Al-Qaeda.

Germany v Gerald Toben

Concerning offences of Holocaust denial.

HM Attorney General v MGN and NGN

Contempt of court proceedings relating to reporting of the arrest of Christopher Jefferies on suspicion of involvement in the death of Joanna Yeates.

The Al-Sweady Public Inquiry

Instructed as Junior for the Ministry of Defence.

Human rights challenge to Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

Junior to First Treasury Counsel on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

R (Sanaa Al-Jaf (“Um Haider”) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Junior for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in judicial review proceedings concerning allegations of sexual harassment and assault of Iraqi female who had worked in the British Embassy in Baghdad.

Strasbourg Cases

Instructed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in three cases before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the rights of a child prosecuted for rape under section 5 of the Sexual Offences...

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