Our team

We are an award-winning team of over 35 specialist lawyers renowned for our friendly, efficient and pragmatic approach to providing legal advice.

Team profiles

Peter Large - Head of Legal and Democratic Services

Rhian Davies - Principal Lawyer

Peter Nixon - Principal Lawyer

Richard Cutbush - Business Development Manager

Gary Blackwell - Head of Contentious Team

Diana Barrett - Head of Non-Contentious Team

Peter Large

Head of Legal and Democratic Services

Peter is the City Council’s Head of Legal and Democratic Services, and Monitoring Officer. He qualified as a solicitor in 1982, joined Westminster in 1999, and has over 25 years experience practising as a solicitor in local government. He has overall responsibility for the provision of all legal services to the City Council.

As well as heading up the legal team, and advising on governance and local government and administrative law, Peter has retained an interest in a number of specialist professional areas. They include litigation (especially judicial review), procurement, employment, planning and licensing, all areas where Westminster has provided a unique opportunity to hone his skills, in view of its location and importance.

Rhian Davies

Principal Lawyer

Rhian has been a Corporate Lawyer with Westminster City Council since 2006. As part of the senior management team, Rhian reports directly to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services and manages the Head of the Contentious team.

Rhian deputises for the Monitoring Officer in his absence and is one of three lawyers responsible for all governance matters within the council. She is a member of the City Council’s strategic Procurement Board, advises members on conduct and ethics and provides legal advice to members and chief officers both generally and at council meetings. Rhian is solely responsible for advising the City Council on all policy matters in relation to Adult Services and Children Services and access to information (DPA/FOIA/ EIR).

Rhian qualified as a solicitor in 1998. Prior to joining Westminster City Council she was a Senior Corporate Lawyer in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Rhian managed the Social Services legal team in Waltham Forest and has 8 years experience as a Social Services lawyer including being a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel.

Peter Nixon

Principal Lawyer

Peter has been a Principal Solicitor at Westminster City Council since 2001. As one of the Council’s 3 Corporate Lawyers, he is part of the Legal and Democratic Services senior management team. Peter and his fellow corporate lawyers are also responsible for all governance matters within the Council, including clearance of reports to Cabinet Members and Gate Review Panels, the latter involving knowledge of procurement law and the Council’s Procurement Code. Although Peter has a general grounding in most aspects of local government legal work, his specialisms are planning, highways and road traffic law and he does a certain amount of casework in these areas, particularly relating to the more complex and high profile matters.

Peter qualified as a solicitor in 1979 and, after periods spent at Berkshire County Council and the London Borough of Newham, joined Westminster City Council in 1986 to work in the then Planning Law team. While in that team he dealt with all aspects of the Council’s planning, highways and road traffic legal work, including the conduct of planning inquiries and High Court planning litigation and the drafting of legal agreements under S.106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Richard Cutbush

Business Development Manager

Richard Joined Westminster as Business Development Manager in January 2013. He has a varied Local Government Background starting in 1995 as a Committee Officer with the London Borough of Barnet. He continued this area of work with the London Borough of Camden from 1998 before moving to become the Service Manager for its registration services in 2009. As an almost unique area in local Government, registration services require a combination of commercial skills in what is a truly competitive area but still understanding and working within the public sector ethos. Richard has a particular enthusiasm for finance and efficient process development.

Gary Blackwell

Head of Contentious Team

Gary is employed by Westminster City Council as Head of Contentious Law, within the Legal and Democratic Services Department and manages 13 lawyers. Gary joined Westminster in 1984 and for a number of years his case load principally consisted of criminal prosecutions, including appearing as prosecution advocate in the Magistrates’ Court.

He advises on enforcement related matters on a daily basis, authorises the City Councils prosecutions, discharges the responsibilities of Senior Responsible Officer under the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), on behalf of the Head of Legal Services, has worked jointly with Sharpe Pritchard promoting 12 London Local Authority Bills and 3 City of Westminster Bills on behalf of all London boroughs and he oversees all of the work undertaken by the team.

From 1974 to 1984 Gary was employed by Lewis Silkin, solicitors where he specialised in criminal defence work, representing clients charged with the most minor and the most serious offences.

Diana Barrett

Head of Non-Contentious Team

Diana joined Westminster City Council as the Head of Non-Contentious Law team in 2010. Diana’s team of 12 lawyers are responsible for providing advice on property and planning matters. Diana specialises and has substantial experience in Local Government law, property and housing law.

During her 20 year employment at the London Borough of Enfield Diana gained experience in Property, Regeneration, Procurement and Planning law including project work such as commercial and housing projects (Edmonton Green redevelopment, Highmead redevelopment), which were major projects and of the highest political importance.

More recently at Westminster, Diana is project managing the Housing Renewal Programme which is being set up under Housing Framework at Westminster City Council which involves the regeneration of 5 Council estates and involves predominantly local government powers, housing and property advice but also some compulsory purchase order advice.

Last updated: 19 April 2017
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