John Kelsey-Fry KC > Cloth Fair Chambers > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Cloth Fair Chambers
John Kelsey-Fry photo


John Kelsey-Fry QC is Head of Cloth Fair Chambers. He is widely recognised as one of the leading silks at the Criminal Bar. He is outstanding in front of a jury, has exceptional advocacy skills and his wealth of experience is almost unparalleled.

John is heavily sought after in areas of business and financial crime as well as high-profile general crime. He is also cited for his work involving defamation where his cross-examination skills have proved case-changing. He has advised a number of high profile individuals as well as national newspapers.

John has also acted for a number of international clients outside of the UK jurisdiction.

John has particularly been commended for his efforts in the sports arena, having a wide range of experience of sporting and regulatory tribunals.


John successfully defended Roger Jenkins, former head of investment banking in the Middle-East for Barclays Bank, over charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. The charges related to the bank’s capital raising from Qatari investors in 2008. An acquittal of all charges was secured following a five month trial at the Central Criminal Court.

John is currently advising individuals in relation to a number of ongoing SFO investigations including ENRC & Unaoil as well as advising a Premier League Football Club in relation to an ongoing HMRC investigation.

Other notable instructions in recent years include:

  • HKSAR – v – Kwok: Successfully defended the property Tycoon in relation to corruption charges in Hong Kong
  • R -v- Olympus Corporation: acted for the company in securing a full acquittal regarding Companies Act charges brought by the SFO  
  • R -v- W: Successfully defended the CEO of a raw materials company charged by the SFO with conspiracy to defraud
  • R -v- Huhne: Represented the former Energy Secretary charged with perverting the course of justice
  • R -v- C: Successfully represented the former Director of iSoft in criminal and regulatory proceedings


Called to the Bar – 1978
QC – 2000

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Business and regulatory crime (including global investigations)

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

John Kelsey-Fry KCCloth Fair ChambersProbably the leading criminal advocate in London. Great with clients and a real pleasure to work with.

Cloth Fair Chambers’ high-profile work is closely followed in the market, particularly in relation to SFO prosecutions and investigations. In one ongoing highlight, John Kelsey-Fry KC and a team including Rachel Kapila are acting for the chairman of Balli Group as a defendant in an SFO prosecution involving allegations of various fraud offences in the commodities trading sector. Further, the set is routinely involved in precedent-setting prosecutions brought by other UK agencies as well. Nicholas Purnell KC is instructed by law firm Dechert LLP and Neil Gerrard in defending a civil claim by Kazakh mining company ENRC against the retired solicitor and his former firm – the claimants allege that Gerrard expanded the scale of the internal investigation he was instructed to carry out, and worked with the Serious Fraud Office to bring about a criminal inquiry in to his former client. Alison Pople KC acted as counsel for Airline Services Limited in achieving a deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO, resulting from an investigation into the company’s failure to comply with its obligation to implement the adequate procedures necessary to protect against bribery.

London Bar > Fraud: crime

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

John Kelsey-Fry KCCloth Fair Chambers

The ‘outstanding set‘ at Cloth Fair Chambers  has established itself ‘as the go-to set for all serious/complex bribery and corruption matters‘, including expertise in fraud. Nicholas Purnell KC and Rachel Kapila have been instructed to lead a mixed criminal and civil counsel team representing Dechert LLP and Neil Gerrard in a civil claim regarding allegations of fraud and bribery in Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been joined to a claim brought by the ENRC against the SFO. Additionally, John Kelsey-Fry KC, leading Jonathan Barnard KC, successfully defended the former Executive Chairman of Investment Banking at Barclays charged with fraud following an investigation into its raising of funds from Qatari investors.