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Simon Csoka QC

Recognised in Chambers & Partners as “at the top of his game and a silk that no other barrister wants to face in court.” Simon specialises in: Fraud and Financial Crime Homicide Health and Safety and Regulatory Terrorism Organised Crime Simon specialises in all aspects of criminal law, in particular homicide, serious fraud and organised crime. He has defended many high-profile cases such as Dale Cregan, Arran Coghlan, and Operation Elveden (the News International cases.) He is widely praised for his devastating cross-examinations. He exclusively defends in serious and complex crime and fraud, together with related hearings in other tribunals. His practice encompasses murder, gross negligence manslaughter, evasion of duty, MTIC and serious fraud, terrorism, complex multi-handed drugs cases and corruption. He is currently leading the challenge to Encrochat evidence on behalf of all the defendants in the main preparatory hearing (Embossed and Estervan.) He has appeared in many high-profile cases. He defended John Hardy, a former sergeant major, in Operation Elveden who was accused of selling stories about Prince William and Prince Harry to The Sun. He was the only source to be acquitted by a jury in those News International trials. As well as his skills as a jury advocate, he is well known for his ability to develop complex legal arguments. He is known for his mastery of detail even in cases with voluminous quantities of evidence. He has an advanced knowledge of computing which can assist with the management of large amounts of evidence. He led for the defence in the first case in which an application for independent special counsel for disclosure was granted [R v Greaves]. Since then he has made several successful applications for special counsel which led to the cases collapsing. He has defended a number of solicitors and professionals in recent years who have found themselves charged with criminal offences. He has advised CEOs, such as Julian Wheatland, former Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica. He will provide an extremely comprehensive and involved service together with a robust defence to those charged with more minor offences who wish to pay privately. He also appears in Sport Regulatory work and has appeared before the FA Appeal Committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. In 2012 he succeeded in restoring Bradford City FC to the FA cup after they were disqualified.

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Keith Arno Mitchell

Keith has long been recognised for his expertise in defence fraud and white-collar crime and has been consistently ranked as a leader in his field in all fraud sections of the top legal directories, Chambers UK 2019 and the Legal 500 2021. He has previously been named ‘Fraud Barrister of the year -2014’ and ‘Best for White Collar Criminal Law-UK 2016’ by Acquisition International. He has been described as “an excellent communicator with in-depth experience.”, “superb with clients and popular with juries”, “a talented practitioner who knows his way around fraud cases” and “spot-on when it comes to strategy”. His practice encompasses major SFO, VAT and MTIC frauds as well as business, financial and other white-collar crime matters. Chambers and Partners states “Keith knows the game inside out. He is a consummate professional who is almost theatrical in court and is awe-inspiring when you see him in action. Other barristers defer to him and ask his advice.” “A very sophisticated advocate who has seen and done it all.” Previous legal directories have said of Keith, that “apart from having the brains and personality to deal with the most complex fraud cases, Keith Mitchell is also the type of barrister who takes the time to go through everything with his clients”. “Very industrious, very reassuring, and very articulate in communicating complicated legal concepts.” “He handles a lot of high-level financial criminal work, he is great with juries, and he wins a lot of cases.” Recent editions have commented “…he’s very practical in looking for solutions and a very strong advocate on his feet’’. In yearly editions of the Fraud (Crime) section of the Legal 500, Keith is highlighted as being an “extremely strong jury advocate”. “His ability to sift through heavy paperwork and present a cogent argument in court is the envy of many”: “He is just superb. He’s always involved in the biggest cases in the country and he has a great touch with the clients.” He has been “recognized as being one of the main players specialising in VAT and fraud”. Keith is also known “for his great client care skills and flair when it comes to case management” and his “flamboyant” style as an advocate. As a specialist in defending serious fraud and crime, including Inland Revenue, VAT, (including Tribunal) and all types of company fraud, Keith has appeared in several European courts including Jersey and Guernsey and in Spain in response to applications under the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 and Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Order 1983. HISTORY In his early career, Keith defended in many high-profile murder trials and other serious crime cases including many of the defendants in the Tottenham riots of the 1980s. Highlights included representing all appellants in the House of Lords definitive ruling on character in R v Aziz [1995]3 AER 149 and in the Court of Appeal, in the case of R v Watson [1987] Cr.App.R.1 which is still widely used in criminal courts and is known as the ‘Watson direction’. In later years, he has become more widely recognized nationally for his expertise in complex fraud, in which he came to prominence in the 1990s during his involvement on behalf of the defence in a number of high profile MTIC frauds, the most prominent of which was the collapsed £110million MTIC fraud, Operation Venison, at Southwark Crown Court in 2005 which led to an independent police enquiry. This led to further high-profile VAT frauds, ‘Operation Divert’ (£110 million VAT fraud), ‘Operation Dowel Drive and Lychees’ (£50 million VAT fraud) and ‘Operation Dosall, Dunnaway and Doona’ (£100 million VAT fraud) and ‘Operation Vaulter’ the largest ever MTIC fraud based in Dubai Other notable cases which have attracted widespread public interest have included, Aleef Garages, of its time, the largest Inland Revenue prosecution in the North West involving the alleged misuse of tax revenue regarding Muslim charities.  ‘Operation Krypton’ better known as the Fallon, ‘Jockey Club’ case, in which he successfully acted for and secured the acquittal of, the alleged head of one of the betting organisations. He secured an acquittal for a defendant in a £34million payroll and construction fraud in the West Midlands, ‘Operation Digit’ and acted for a defendant  who admitted breaching BIS export controls by selling military grade equipment to Arab Governments and US Companies, including the sale of bulletproof body armour and helmets to Iraq and Kuwait among other destinations to the value of $6,000,000 during the height of the war. In 2015, successfully concluded ‘Operation Cactus Hent’ the “pensions busting” North West SIPP fraud (which involved an unsuccessful appeal by the prosecution to the LCJ, see [2015] EWCA Crim 5380. This was followed by a successful submission of no case to answer in Operation ‘Galion,’ a high-profile multimillion-pound publishing fraud emanating out of Liverpool after a 5-year investigation and trial [2016]. In January 2017, led for the main defendant in Operation ‘Holt’, concerning Logica PLC, who was involved in insider dealing, involving a £1.7billion takeover by Canadian based company CGI Group Holdings Europe. The defendant was a business analyst who passed inside information to individuals who then carried out transactions on the FTSE. The defendant avoided custody. Keith then represented the only director to be acquitted, in the PCS LTD Conspiracy to defraud, which involved supplying chauffeur driven cars to celebrities and individuals including Emirates Airlines in the UK and premier league football teams. In September 2017, Leading Junior in one of the largest cyber net frauds prosecuted by Trading Standards, ‘Operation Dougal’ which netted more than £36millon. It was alleged that the companies involved operated highly sophisticated but dishonest schemes; the aim of which was to deceive or mislead victims into using, -and making millions of pounds’ worth of payments to- websites operated by the defendants in the belief that they were using official Government websites, (including USA and India) to access and pay for goods or services such as passports, driving licenses, e-visas and ESTA applications. In November 2017, R v Guise. Kingston Crown Court represented a City Solicitor and high profile member of the law Society and former chair of the Commercial Litigation Association who faced three counts of alleged Fraud from Clients account. The defendant was acquitted. In January 2018, represented a defendant, R v Moxon, Guildford Crown Court   who pioneered an internet IT programme for modernizing health care and admissions but was accuses of  bribing Chief Executive Officer of National Health Trust in Surrey, regarding the implementation of a computerized Health Care System nationwide. In October 2018, represented Shafiq Uddin Operation Lester, Sheffield Crown Court,  the accountant and alleged organiser  of  human trafficking organization based in Sheffield that involved the enslaving of individuals from Romania and Bulgaria in the landmark investigation in Sheffield and Yorkshire  into modern slavery fraud  and subsequent misuse of the housing and benefits  system – the defendant was acquitted of all charges. In 2019, acted as Leader in an SFO operation into a long firm fraud into well-known printing companies with allegations of bribery and corruption, and insolvency,  successfully  acting  for the ‘brains’ of one of the alleged major criminal gangs in the UK in  ‘Operation Aldgate’, an allegation of multiple Insolvency frauds. In 2020, involved in a trial called Operation Gurgle at Birmingham and led for the first  defendant  in £29 Million Research and Development Tax Fraud  regarding  the setting up of IT health care systems  in UAE involving offshore investments, client resident, of Dubai  and  acting in Operation Cornflour at Southwark Crown Court . Due to start in 2021, Operation Aspen HMRC investigation into former Spearmint Rhino gentleman’s club regarding alleged widespread Tax evasion. In 2021, Keith will commence Operation Aspen HMRC investigation into former Spearmint Rhino gentleman’s club regarding alleged widespread Tax evasion. Keith has also been instructed to lead in Operation Maple Lodge the Royal Mail £89million, conspiracy to defraud prosecution, into the worldwide affairs of Postal Packets International, Global Express Worldwide Ltd and Tiger International Logistics.

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Bunty Batra

Mr Batra was called to the Bar in February 1988.  By 1989 he appeared in the Chambers directory as ‘highly recommended in crime’. For over 30 years he has defended in many serious criminal cases, which include cases murder, attempted murder and rape. The rape offences have varied from historical rape to familial rape, stranger rape to gang rape to large scale multi- handed child grooming offences, He has defended in both the much publicised Rochdale grooming scandal and in operation Tendersea in Leeds. He has a particular interest in terrorism and defended serious terrorism offences; Mr Batra has appeared in human trafficking and human slavery cases, these cases have involved trafficking both for the purpose of prostitution and modern slavery. Mr Batra has defended in multi-million pound frauds and multi-million pound class involving class A drugs offences, offences that have alleged both the importation of class A drugs and conspiracy to supply the same. He appeared at the time of trial, in the largest ever importation and distribution of firearms into the UK. He has appeared in high profile cases both alone and with Queen’s Counsel. He appears regularly before the High Court particularly in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and the Divisional Court he has been instructed counsel in a number of reported cases, some of which, have gone to shape to the English law. He is a very experienced jury advocate. Mr Batra sat as a legal assessor at the GMC (General Medical Council). Mr Batra has, for many years, lectured Registrars and Consultant Psychiatrists on giving expert evidence. Mr Batra has been in the Chambers Directory as ‘highly recommended’ in crime. Particular Interests include, terrorism and cases with a mental health element to them.

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Jon Anders

Jon is an established defence advocate specialising in serious crime for 30 years. He has considerable experience in a wide variety of high profile criminal cases often followed with interest by the media. His practice encompasses: Business crime: Fraud, Appellate Defence crime: Homicide, Sexual offences, Terrorism EXPERIENCE Jon is exclusively instructed to defend on matters involving murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, terrorism,  serious violence, serious sexual offences, high value fraud, as-set forfeiture, confiscation and business and regulatory crime.  He has acted as leading counsel on a large number of serious cases, including murder. Jon is also asked to give pre-charge advice to companies and individuals and is asked to advise companies on regulatory matters. Jon’s professionalism and success is reflected in the continuing high demand for his services from instructing solicitors including many repeat clients and referrals. He has been described as pro-active and has a hands on style when conducting cases Jon has recently defended in a number of high profile cases. These include a boiler room fraud involving the sale of diamonds, a serious assault on a police officer where a machete was used, a murder resulting from gang violence and a substantial trading standards prosecution. Jon is currently instructed in a number of large scale frauds. Jon is also regularly instructed to provide advice and assistance in the most serious criminal cases that have resulted in conviction with a view to having these cases reviewed by the Criminal Court of Appeal and/or the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

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Adrian Kayne

Experienced as both a Junior and Leading Junior in the following principle practice areas: Fraud and Financial Crime Homicide Organised Crime Sexual Offences Confiscation Appeals General Crime Mr. Kayne is currently engaged in the representation of the former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands in ongoing criminal proceedings there. Prior to moving overseas to accept those instructions, Mr. Kayne had enjoyed a substantial criminal defence practice in England and Wales. It is Mr. Kayne’s current intention to return to the United Kingdom at the conclusion of his assignment in the Turks and Caicos Islands in order to rebuild his former UK practice. Prior to his departure, Mr. Kayne was considered by many solicitors to be an extremely able, highly experienced and well-regarded criminal defence advocate. He was known as a dedicated, industrious, diligent and hard-working advocate, recognised for his acuity and ability to marshal and present vast volumes of evidential material effectively. His early input into matters of preparation was often sought by those who used to instruct him in the United Kingdom. Mr. Kayne had been accepting instructions to act as a Leading Junior counsel for many years. Throughout his career, he acquired considerable experience in how to act in the best interests of those accused of serious criminal offences, including serious fraud, money laundering, rape, murder, armed robbery and major drug conspiracies.

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James Walker

Experienced as both a Junior and Leader in his three principle practice areas: Organised crime Homocide and serious violence Fraud and financial crime. James has developed extensive experience as both leading and junior counsel. Highly regarded criminal defence specialist: approachable, dependable and fearless in his desire to seek the best interests of his clients. James is a specialist in criminal defence, including fraud and regulatory work. James is regularly instructed to act in heavyweight criminal cases with a busy and successful practice in all areas of criminal law, both publicly and privately funded, particularly murder and manslaughter, complex fraud, major drugs cases, and organised crime. Having been instructed as sole junior or led junior for many years, he is now increasingly instructed as leading or sole junior counsel, often in multi-handed cases of complexity or sensitivity. He is a modern advocate: effective in Court, concerned to deliver down-to-earth client care and attentive to crucial case management issues such as securing full disclosure and identifying the right experts ahead of trial. He has been instructed as a leading junior in a wide range of serious crime, particularly in relation to young defendants. As a junior, his detailed analytical approach is considered invaluable. He has a calm relaxed disposition, which makes him good with difficult clients, and in particular he puts clients at ease and instils confidence. Renowned for his engaging court style, both as an attractive and natural jury advocate, James has established a strong track record, both as a leading junior, a led junior and acting alone, in matters of great weight and complexity. He is highly committed to the defence of those he represents, combining an approachable, thorough and dependable style, which has resulted in a number of successful appearances at all levels including in the Criminal Court of Appeal.

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Saleema Mahmood

For several years, Saleema has been recognised as a leading practitioner in complex crime in both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 and continues to be instructed in high profile leading junior work. Saleema regularly acts as a leading junior in complex  serious crime, with a focus on violent offences including homicide and complex drug conspiracies. Saleema’s practice instructions include representation of vulnerable adults and youth defendants in a range of serious prosecutions including terrorism, murder and conspiracy offences. Saleema is fluent in French and Spanish. She has a working use of Urdu and Punjabi. Saleema specialises in: Organised Crime. Terrorism. Homicide. Fraud and Financial Crime. General Crime. Sexual Offences. Saleema is a very experienced senior junior specialising in criminal defence. She is frequently instructed as leading junior and has appeared in a number of high-profile cases. She has appeared in a number of the recent high profile cases both in the Midlands and North of England, including the defence of the only defendant acquitted of the murders of Charlene Ellis and Letitia Shakespeare, the representation of one of the defendants in the murder of Naila Mumtaz (exorcism) and Percy Wright (murder of ex-partner leading to significant investigation into the practices of Warwickshire Police in cases of domestic abuse). Saleema specialises in the defence of violent and sexual offences but also holds a growing Money laundering/ Fraud practice. At 22 years call, Saleema holds a practice far beyond that which could be expected and holds a strong reputation in the field of criminal defence particularly young and vulnerable defendants. Saleema is well regarded by both lay and professional clients for her no nonsense yet empathetic approach to defendants and complainants alike. She has frequently been recognised with entries in both Chambers and the Legal 500 publications. Saleema’s attention to detail and focused approach to complex analysis work is well recognised and she has developed a strong reputation for her ability to deal with extensive telephone evidence and financial accounting in a manner which appeals to juries and judges alike. Her down to earth court room approach lends to her growing reputation as an expert in cases involving young or vulnerable witnesses, frequently commended in the courts. Those fortunate enough to have watched Saleema at work have praised her sensitive yet direct approach to cross-examination particularly in sexual offences cases and vulnerable complainants. Her style of advocacy is commended by senior members of the circuit as direct, relevant and intelligent. Saleema is well known for her meticulous preparation and analysis of cases together with her friendly and amiable personality. She has excellent rapport with young defendants and those from ethnic minorities. Saleema’s style of advocacy lends itself well to leading junior counsel and solicitor advocates. Her forensic analysis in complex frauds and large scale telephone work is second to none. Saleema holds a formidable reputation for her detailed and forensic approach to her preparation and is counsel of choice in cases of terrorism, homicide, fraud and money laundering, multimillion pound frauds, money laundering allegations, and public office breaches. Saleema is public access accredited, he can accept instructions directly or via solicitors.

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Darren Snow

Described by clients as a “team player” and “down to earth and user friendly” Darren Snow specialises in four main fields: Serious Crime Regulatory & Financial Crime Professional Discipline Inquests Over the last few years, Darren has been ranked consistently in the Legal 500 as a leading junior in Crime and in the 2021 edition for Professional Discipline. Darren is a pupil supervisor, advocacy trainer, and an accredited commercial mediator. He was a nominee for junior barrister of the year at the 2018 Bar Pro Bono Awards. He sits on several regulatory panels and is a legal chair on police disciplinary tribunals. Darren undertakes direct access work and is an authorised litigator. He is an associate lecturer at the University of Law. Darren came to the Bar from an initial career in the City working for international insurers and Lloyds, where he worked his way up through the ranks to become an international loss adjuster and in-house lawyer handling a wide range of commercial claims and dispute resolution work. Darren has a strong pro bono practice. He also has a keen interest in social mobility work at the Bar – Darren has spoken at Urban Lawyers’ annual careers conference and mentored schools in the Citizen Foundation’s national mock trial competition – taking his schools through to the national finals two years in a  row. Use the menu under Darren’s profile photo to view Expertise, Recent Cases, Accreditations & more.

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Umar Shahzad

Umar specialises in:  Family Law Civil & Commercial Litigation Crime Umar is a junior barrister with a multidisciplinary practice including crime, family and civil & commercial litigation. Umar holds a conducting litigation practicing certificate and accepts instructions under the public direct access scheme. Umar regularly appears in the Crown Courts and Magistrates covering all aspects of criminal work. His experience includes cases of murder, manslaughter, death by dangerous driving and drink and drug driving offences, large scale drugs conspiracies, producing and supplying drugs, white collar fraud, rape and serious sexual assaults, grievous bodily harm, perverting the course of justice, money laundering, blackmail, kidnap and conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary. Umar has spent a considerable amount of time practicing family law. This includes a complex array of matters such as finding of fact hearings, final hearings, interim removal hearings, non-accidental injuries and child contact arrangements. He has experience working on behalf of all parties involved in these matters. Umar also has experience dealing with financial remedies matters. Umar’s experience in civil litigation has been conducting fast and multi-track trials in the County and High Court. This includes representing claimants in court (infant approval hearings, disputed directions hearings, CCMC hearings, interim applications and disposal hearings). Umar has been involved in preparing Judicial Review Applications for Chancery and commercial matters and conducting hearings. He has dealt with cases in the European Court of Human Rights and Electoral Fraud cases. Umar has extensive knowledge and a keen interest in cases involving landlord and tenant disputes. Umar works incredibly hard, paying particular attention to the detail in an effort to find innovative solutions for complex legal and practical problems. Whilst being mindful of the larger picture Umar gives clear and concise advice on the merits of a case. His friendly and approachable manner and professionalism in handling cases is well known. He is renowned for his meticulous approach to mitigation when an offence is accepted in whole or in part, this has been the difference between a custodial or non-custodial sentence. Umar is known for his ability to deal with clients from all different backgrounds, treating everyone with respect whatever the allegation or situation they may find themselves in.

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Chaynee Hodgetts FRSA

A criminal defence and inquest practitioner, with a reputation for looking at cases differently, and her focus on each client as an individual. Previously spent over a decade as a Law Lecturer specialising in Crime, Evidence, Media Law and Inquests. Chaynee specialises in: Defence Crime Inquests (including maritime, mental health, medical, and Higher Education inquests) Forensic Science Ms Hodgetts practises predominantly in Crime and Inquests. Her further sub-specialisms include forensic science, maritime criminal law, maritime inquests, medical and mental health inquests, and Higher Education inquests. Prior to practice, Ms Hodgetts spent over a decade as a University Law Lecturer and academic, teaching Criminal Law, Evidence, and Media Law, working as Law Admissions Tutor, and as Director of an Innocence Casework Unit. Having been a member of Middle Temple since 2012, Ms Hodgetts was Called to the Bar in 2019. Before lecturing, she was a Deck Rating in the Merchant Navy. She is Honorary Lecturer in Criminal Law (Law Department), and Honorary Lecturer in Medicine: Medical Law (School of Medical Sciences) at Bangor University. She is also Co-author of Smith, Hogan and Ormerod’s Essentials of Criminal Law (from 2021/22), and Features & Opinion Editor of Solicitors’ Journal. She maintains her strong connections with North Wales and continues to develop her practice in both London and Wales (accepting instructions in both areas, and nationally). Chaynee regularly writes in the solicitors journal.

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Fatima Laher

Fatima is a relentlessly determined advocate with a breadth of experience across a range of offences, including sexual and violence offences, offences involving fraud, drug offences, and firearms. She has joined chambers after spending two years prosecuting for the Crown Prosecution Service where she experienced considerable success in securing convictions for offences involving violence, thefts, public order offences and possession of bladed articles. She is now able to use her experience to offer useful tactical advice to her clients. She is recognised for her calm, clear and practical approach to cases as well as her strong interpersonal skills which allow her to develop a strong rapport with her clients. Fatima is always thorough, personable, and professional. She is always clear when explaining the law and procedure and has regularly received positive feedback from vulnerable witnesses who have praised her for her approachable manner, accessible style and her ability to provide clear, practical and realistic advice.  She is a robust and knowledgeable advocate who is always willing to go the extra mile and is known known to be a scrupulously fair and highly effective prosecutor. She has an excellent academic record, obtaining a distinction for the BPTC LLM and graduating top of her year in Law at BPP Law University. She has received awards for the highest mark in Contract and Criminal Law across all BPP Universities.

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