Jago Russell has a Masters Degree in Law (LLM) from King’s College London and a degree in English Literature from Jesus College, Oxford. Before moving into criminal justice and human rights, he trained and qualified as a solicitor at Slaughter and May, specialising in tax. Jago deals with criminal and regulatory matters, including business crime, extradition, corruption, mutual legal assistance, sanctions and financial crime.
Criminal justice and human rights expertise
Between 2008 and 2021, Jago was the Chief Executive of Fair Trials, where he led the transformation of the charity into a specialist advocacy organisation working globally to advance the right to a fair trial in criminal cases. Under his leadership, Fair Trials secured legal and policy reforms, including new EU-wide protections for defence right rights (including police station access to a lawyer) and reforms to INTERPOL (including new safeguards to protect refugees from INTERPOL Red Notices).
Jago has been interviewed or quoted frequently in mainstream media outlets worldwide, including the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Times, ABC and Le Monde. He has also appeared on podcasts, including the Lawfare Blog, and lectured at numerous high-profile events. Jago has given evidence on a range of criminal justice topics to the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs, Justice and Human Rights Select Committees and gave expert evidence to the UK Government’s Extradition Review. Jago has also presented to the European Parliament, United Nations’ Committee Against Torture and Council of Europe’s, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He worked closely with INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files on the development of improved oversight and redress mechanisms.
Jago has an extensive global network of criminal justice and human rights experts. He led the development of the EU-wide network of defence lawyers, NGOs and academics - LEAP (the Legal Experts Advisory Panel). For over a decade, Jago has been consulted on complex cross-border criminal matters, helping to identify trusted lawyers in countries across the globe and to develop strategies that address not only the legal but also the diplomatic, political and media implications of political and high-profile cases.
Cases which have been reported in the media include:
Edmond Arapi - Arrest Warrant from Italy withdrawn at appeal after high-profile press coverage exposed compelling evidence of mistaken identity;
Deborah Dark - surrender to France refused by the UK and Spain, with the Arrest Warrant withdrawn by France after UK press coverage and political engagement;
Bahar Kimyongur – Extradition to Turkey refused by Spain, Italy and the Netherlands and INTERPOL Red Notice deleted following an application to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files, supported by a media campaign and EU advocacy;
Petr Silaev –INTERPOL Red Notice deleted following an application to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files and supporting media and advocacy to expose the politically-motivated nature of the prosecution linked to Mr Silaev’s anti-fascist activism; and
Benny Wenda - INTERPOL Red Notice withdrawn after Indonesia’s politically-motivated prosecution of Mr Wenda, due to his international campaign for West Papuan independence, was exposed in the press globally.
Before joining Fair Trials, Jago worked at the British human rights NGO, Liberty. He represented Liberty before the UK Parliament, in the media and on high-profile platforms and led Liberty’s award-winning “Charge or Release” campaign against extension of the pre-charge detention limit in terrorism cases in the UK. He also worked as a Legal Specialist in the UK Parliament, where he advised a number of Select Committees, managing numerous inquiries on topics including counter-terrorism law and criminal legal aid.
Jago’s first role in criminal justice and human rights was at the legal charity, INTERIGHTS, where he developed a judicial training programme for Indian High Court judges. While at INTERIGHTS Jago also worked with leading lawyers in South Asia, advising on a number of successful applications to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (in cases related to terrorism prosecutions in Sri Lanka) and drafted interventions in cases before the European Court of Human Rights.
Jago is a Trustee at the specialist legal charity the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe), which uses European law to protect your fundamental rights. Jago is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire.
Languages and memberships
Jago is a member of the Defence Extradition Lawyers' Forum and the European Criminal Bar Association. He speaks some French and Italian.