Crime in London Bar
The Crime (general crime) section covers criminal work that would typically come under the banner of violent and sexual offences, such as murder and rape at the most serious end, but also covers all manner of non-financial offending, such as modern slavery offences, the full range of terrorism offences, and significant drug and firearms supply conspiracies. This section includes both defence and prosecution work, as well as both privately and publicly funded work. It does not cover criminal fraud or corruption and sanctions-type offences: please see the Crime: fraud and Business and regulatory crime sections for coverage of those specialisms. International crime and extradition and POCA and asset forfeiture are also covered separately. That said, many barristers are likely to have practices that do not neatly fit within these boxes and so may be ranked in more than one practice area.
A set 'packed with heavyweights and juniors with potential', 2 Bedford Row prosecutes some of the most complex criminal cases, with a track record of some of the high-profile sexual offence cases in recent years. Brian Altman QC prosecuted Russell Bishop in a retrial concerning the "Babes in the Wood" murders in 1986 – Bishop, who was already serving a life sentence for a separate attempted murder of a girl, was acquitted in 1987 of the offences. Among the juniors, Christopher Martin represented a man who was acquitted on sexual assault charges following a practical joke at a birthday party in a case which attracted media attention in part because the defendant was a former public schoolboy; Craig Rush successfully represented a mother who, after drowning her 7-year-old son in the bath, was found not guilty by reason of insanity; and Nick Barraclough secured the sole acquital in case containing 11 defendants; the case concerned the importation of cocaine to South Wales by Albanian organised crime – the convicted defendants received sentences totalling 116 years. In addition, work with national security implications is one area of expertise for the set, with a number of members prosecuting terrorism cases, as well as handling military-related cases both for the defence and prosecution in civilian courts, and defence work in courts-martial.
2 Hare Court 'boasts an impressive range of counsel and is able to offer a range of suitable options in relation to any enquiry'. Traditionally regarded as a prosecution set, chambers continues to receive Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) instructions for some of the most serious cases, but it also handles high-quality private defence and prosecution work, too. Recent instructions include Julia Faure Walker prosecuting three individuals for a sex trafficking conspiracy, including the "sale" of a prostitute for €10,000 in a case with issues as to the admissibility of Romanian intercept evidence. Turning to defence highlights, Martin Hicks QC and Scott Ivill represented a man who was acquitted of an alleged manslaughter after his brother died of a heart attack in the family home during a supposed exorcism. Also of note, Brendan Kelly QC defended Xeneral Webster, a 19-year-old drill musician who was acquitted of murder but received a 17-year sentence for manslaughter on a plea of guilty; this case is believed to be the first conviction for an acid attack killing in the UK. Turning to the juniors' unled work, Gudrun Young successfully represented well-known feminist activist Linda Bellos, who was privately prosecuted by a transgender rights activist for a supposed public order offence after indicating that she would defend herself against violent attack – the private prosecution was taken over and discontinued by the CPS.
'An excellent set with high-calibre barristers', 25 Bedford Row is a defence-only set that handles, alongside privately funded work, some of the most difficult publicly funded work, often including multi-defendant violent crime cases. Tyrone Smith QC represented a teenage drug dealer who, having been arrested and found with a 30cm knife four days before, stabbed a youth worker who asked him to stop selling drugs outside his home; the defendant was found not guilty of murder and convicted of wounding with intent. Turning to criminal appeals, Jeremy Dein QC represented far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in a successful appeal against his initial committal to prison for contempt of court in May 2018 for interfering with sexual offence trials subject to reporting restrictions in Canterbury and Leeds. Among the juniors, Melanie Simpson represented a Hungarian woman who, along with her special constable husband, was convicted of trafficking women to a brothel they ran in an apartment block in Chelsea.
6KBW COLLEGE HILL handles some key defence work, but is best known as prosecution set. Chambers handles a range of terrorism cases and, for example, Duncan Atkinson QC prosecuted a British Army lance corporal in a civilian court for membership of National Action; Annabel Darlow QC and Alistair Richardson prosecuted an Islamic State supporter who used a Telegram group to incite, among other offences, the murder of Prince George and a campaign of ice-cream poisoning. Away from terrorism, Tony Badenoch QC successfully prosecuted Carl Beech, who under the pseudonym "Nick" made lurid and false allegations of child sexual abuse against a number of high-profile individuals, triggering the Operation Midland imbroglio. In addition, Duncan Penny QC took over from Mark Heywood QC of 5KBW as First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Old Bailey. For the defence, Simon Ray represented former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? presenter Chris Tarrant in a drink-drive case.
QEB Hollis Whiteman has a track record of prosecution work, including some of the most serious cases, but also handles a diverse range of defence instructions. Philip Stott prosecuted thrice-bankrupt hereditary peer Rhodri Philipps, who received a 12-week sentence for sending menacing racist messages to anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, one of which purporting to offer a £5,000 bounty for ramming her with a vehicle. Turning to defence work, Stott and Zoe Johnson QC also represented a GP who was accused of the gross negligence manslaughter of a patient who died of a rare adrenal gland disorder – the case was dismissed on no case to answer after the prosecution's case was heard. In a more unusual matter, Johnson QC represented the Crown Prosecution Service to defeat an attempt by two men convicted of the murders of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in 2005 to discharge the order which anonymised a witness for the first time in an English criminal trial. Defence work in sex offences is one area where the set is particularly strong; Eleanor Laws QC and Polly Dyer defended a doctor who was acquitted on 11 counts of sexual assault on ten male patients.
'One of the go-to sets for fighting cases against the state', Doughty Street Chambers has particular strengths in terrorism cases, criminal appeals, and cases where mental health issues are involved. Tim Moloney QC represented the first successful joint enterprise appellant after the Jogee Supreme Court case in 2016, and also represented the parents of Jack Letts (dubbed "Jihadi Jack" by the media), who received suspended sentences for sending money to their son; Letts had travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State group, which he subsequently left. Before trial, the matter went before the Supreme Court to consider if the test for mens rea in terrorism finance offences is objective or subjective. Rebecca Trowler QC represented autistic Islamist convert Lewis Ludlow, who was convicted of plotting a truck attack on Oxford Street. A number of the set's juniors handle terrorism work, unled, too: Liam Walker represented the reported leader of proscribed neo-Nazi group National Action, who was convicted of a plot to behead a Labour MP; in an entirely separate trial involving the same group, Piers Marquis represented the first of six defendants convicted of membership of the organisation. Walker also represented television personality Ant McPartlin in a drink-driving case. Paul Taylor QC represented one of two anonymised appellants in the R v AS Court of Appeal case concerning the sentencing of severely ill convicts.
'A very good set, with a good compliment of silks and juniors', Garden Court Chambers is 'strong in complex crime cases and has a strong mix of barristers at different levels of experience and expertise'. With a strong reputation for publicly funded defence work, alongside challenging murder and sex offence cases, chambers has had members involved in a range of politically charged matters, with terrorism and criminal appeals among other areas of expertise. It also remains 'the go-to set when it comes to representing vulnerable defendants'. Stephen Kamlish QC secured a stay for an abuse of process after a drug trial collapsed – the prosecution argued that an hour and a half surveillance tape was missing and must have been incriminating, but was throughout in their possession and innocuous. James Scobie QC represented Siddique Kamara, a drill musician under the name "Incognito" and member of the Moscow17 group, who was acquitted of the murder of a member of the Zone 2 group. Criminal appeals are an area of expertise: Clare Wade QC represented Sally Challen, whose 2011 conviction for murdering her husband with over 20 blows of a hammer was overturned following fresh evidence demonstrating coercive control – a guilty plea to manslaughter on that basis was accepted, and the sentence imposed was covered by time served. Dexter Dias QC, Tom Wainwright, Owen Greenhall, and Jacob Bindman represented various members of the "Stansted 15", a group of activists who were convicted of an aviation security offence, but all avoided immediate custody, for breaking into Stansted airport and chaining themselves to a Boeing 767 to halt a deportation charter flight. Bill Evans returned to the independent Bar in September 2018, joining the set from LP Evans Solicitors and Advocates, and Helen Butcher joined the month before from One Pump Court.
Red Lion Chambers, among a range of criminal experts, has number of members with specific strengths in sexual offences and modern slavery matters, and handles a strong mixture of prosecution work as well as challenging defence instructions. Kate Bex QC successfully represented the defendant, a solicitor, in the second-ever prosecution under the Female Genital Mutilation Act. Rosina Cottage QC represented the Crown Prosecution Service, successfully defeating an appeal against conviction brought in the name of publicist Max Clifford, who died three years into a prison sentence for indecent assault. Among the juniors, David Malone prosecuted two gang members involved in the production of drill music videos on YouTube for conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm (GBH), and successfully applied after their conviction for the first criminal behaviour order targeting drill music. Elsewhere, Paul Evans represented a man named in the press as a former president of the Sussex chapter of the Hell's Angels, who was acquitted of GBH with intent. Sally-Ann Hales QC was appointed to the circuit bench in May 2018.
'An elite set with a second-to-none reputation', Three Raymond Buildings handles a number of more specialist criminal matters, including both prosecution and privately funded defence work. In particular, the set, which enjoys a close relationship with the Police Federation and its preferred firms of solicitors, has a strong track record in defending police officers in criminal cases. Richard Horwell QC prosecuted a couple who were convicted of murdering French au pair Sophie Lionnet over a false belief that she was having an affair with one of their ex partners, a former member of boy band Boyzone. Among the juniors, Guy Ladenburg successfully prosecuted the cold case rape of a pensioner in 1986, while Heather Oliver represented a police officer who was convicted of, but given an absolute discharge for, burglary with intent to commit criminal damage by attacking a barber shop with a traffic cone.
23 Essex Street 'has a great range of barristers for general crime'. The set prosecutes and defends in a mix of work across the board. Instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service, John Price QC prosecuted at trial – and appeared in subsequent appeals – Jemma Beale, who in 2019 had her ten year sentence for perverting the course of justice and perjury upheld by the Court of Appeal; Beale caused a man to be sentenced to seven years imprisonment for a rape he did not commit, and successfully claimed compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority; one key legal issue in the appeal was if the jury direction about "rape myths" given to juries in rape trials should be given to juries in perjury trials concerning rape allegations. Turning to defence work, in Court of Appeal, Francis FitzGibbon QC represented the appellant in R v GS, a case which concerned the prosecution of victims of trafficking. Unled junior highlights include Rupert Wheeler acting as sole counsel for the successful claimant in R (Poskitt) v Reading Magistrates' Court, in which the High Court quashed a decision of a Magistrates' Court to overturn another's decision using section 142 of the Magistrates' Court Act. Senior junior Rupert Pardoe has retired.
Furnival Chambers continues to handle a range of matters, including highly complex cases, for both the defence and prosecution. Philippa McAtasney QC represented a man who was acquitted of the murder of his mother, after police found her decomposed body in their shared home – he was convicted of manslaughter. Another defence highlight included 2019 silk appointment Julia Smart QC representing an 83-year-old woman with dementia who received a hospital order after stabbing her 85-year-old husband. Two of the set's silks have been involved in prosecuting legal firsts: Caroline Carberry QC and Joel Smith prosecuted in the first Female Genital Mutilation Act prosecution resulting in a conviction, while Caroline Haughey QC prosecuted the first child labour exploitation case under the Modern Slavery Act, concerning five Vietnamese girls who were trafficked to operate a nail bar. Lucy Tapper joined the set in May 2018 after a stint as an in-house advocate at Reeds Solicitors, where she was a director.
'All super clever lawyers', Matrix Chambers 'is a quality set, with a vast array of able barristers at all levels – either stars now or stars in the making'. Chambers handle a number of matters, including many politically charged and involving criminal appeals, the interface between the criminal law and civil liberties, and public order matters concerning protests. Clare Montgomery QC is scheduled to represent two Parachute Regiment veterans due to be tried in Northern Ireland for the murder of Official IRA member Joe McCann in 1972. Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh is a specialist in cases involving protest – she represented a number of demonstrators who blocked access roads to the DSEI defence industry trade show at the ExCeL Centre.
'A strong set for serious crime', 187 Fleet Street Chambers covers a mix of work at all levels, including both prosecution and defence instructions. Simon Mayo QC prosecuted a man who was convicted of murdering a youth worker by ramming his car, then exiting the vehicle to attack him with combat knives. Turning to the juniors, Avirup Chaudhuri represented an author who was tried for and acquitted of a Malicious Communications Act offence for self-publishing a book making various claims about her sisters' treatment of their mother, and admitting she poisoned her sister's Jerusalem artichoke crop.
3 TEMPLE GARDENS, which primarily defends, has members who 'appear in some of the most high-profile cases of the day'. Tim Forte, unled, represented a man charged with conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life; thought to be only the second case involving actual or contemplated grenade use in England and Wales (the first being the murder of two Greater Manchester Police officers in 2012). Justin Hughston-Roberts, who joined from 9 Bedford Row, represented a gamekeeper who was charged with gross negligence manslaughter after a loaded shotgun stored in the back of his car went off, killing a passenger.
'An excellent set in relation to general and serious crime', 5KBW handles a mixed practice, with an established reputation for prosecution work. Sarah Forshaw QC and Orla Daly (now of QEB Hollis Whiteman) represented Max Clifford in an appeal against conviction for indecent assault, which proceeded despite the fact that the celebrity publicist died in prison over a year before. Mark Heywood QC, until December 2019 First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Old Bailey, prosecuted two supporters of the Islamic State group who were convicted of plotting to assassinate then-prime minister Theresa May by suicide bombing.
9 Bedford Row's workload includes a diverse range, with some work including terrorism cases. Courts-martial are an area of expertise, with Peter Glenser QC having represented a corporal who as convicted of stabbing a lance corporal within his room in barracks at both court-martial and the Court Martial Appeal Court – the key question at appeal being whether the "householder defence" applies to an individual who enters lawfully then becomes a trespasser. The set has a track record in terrorism cases, with Lee Karu QC having defended, with unled junior Diana Wilson prosecuting, a man who carried out a two-year campaign of threatening letters, culminating a pamphlet sent to numerous high-profile political figures soliciting murder under the banner of "Punish a Muslim Day" - he received a sentence of twelve and a half years. Justin Rouse QC represented a gamekeeper, who was acquitted of wildlife offences privately prosecuted by the RSPB, in which the charity carried out its own covert surveillance operation. Samantha Cohen was appointed to the circuit bench in March 2019.
'Tremendous for criminal work' according to some, Carmelite Chambers handles a mix of work, including both defence and prosecution instructions, including significant drug and violence matters. The set has handled a number of cases recently with military elements, including William England having represented an army private who was acquitted of charges of membership of proscribed extreme-right organisation National Action.
Defence-focused set Charter Chambers covers the gamut of criminal work. Henry Grunwald QC represented a member of drill group Moscow17, who was acquitted of murder after a teenager was fatally stabbed in Peckham. Leila Gaskin represented the appellant in R v Chudasama, in which the Court of Appeal reduced three concurrent sentences for causing death by dangerous driving, which were initially calculated by adding three lengths together as if they were to be imposed consecutively and then making deductions for personal mitigation and guilty pleas.
Foundry Chambers is 'a very strong set' with 'competent and skilful counsel', who mostly prosecuted but also handle challenging defence instructions. John McGuinness QC was instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service in the Supreme Court, resolving a point of the construction of the Representation of the People Act 1983; the case resolved a legal issue prior to a trial that saw an employee of the Conservative Party given a suspended prison sentence for falsifying expenses during the 2015 general election. Szilvia Booker, led, prosecuted in a case after a number of young women were trafficked to a brothel, which was protected by a corrupt PCSO. Meanwhile, unled, Nicholas Dunham prosecuted a man who stalked television personality Christine Lampard, and in a Newton hearing was found to have sent tweets threatening to crucify her.
SIX PUMP COURT has a track record of serious prosecution work, including cases of sexual offending. Oliver Saxby QC prosecuted in the Operation Silk grooming trial concerning child exploitation in Oxford following on from the earlier Operation Bullfinch case in which he was also instructed. Turning the juniors, Simon Taylor prosecuted and Danny Moore defended a man who was convicted of attempted murder after driving at speed onto a nightclub dancefloor – both were unled.