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Simon Csoka KC

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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Nina Grahame KC

Nina Grahame KC defends in the most serious Crown Court cases and has a busy appellate practice with a particular focus on out-of-time ‘miscarriage of justice’ appeals. She is regularly instructed to defend in cases of the most extreme complexity, particularly: Complex fraud and financial crime, including contested POCA proceedings, Cases involving complex contested expert medical evidence, particularly paediatric, medical, & psychiatric, Cases founded on alleged OCG or gang membership, Cases involving the use/misuse of cutting-edge technology. Nina represents defendants accused of complex fraud, taxation and money laundering offences, including those founded upon evidence from other jurisdictions. Nina has represented numerous members of Organised Crime Groups and territorial gangs operating throughout the North-West and nationally. These cases typically involve gang-related murders as well as international drug supply networks and other serious violence and the supply/use of firearms. Nina frequently represents parents and carers accused of serious offences against children or vulnerable adults. She is highly respected for her expertise in representing defendants with complex mental health needs and is frequently instructed in cases involving vulnerable witnesses and complainants. She has specialist expertise in linked Criminal and Family Court/Court of Protection cases. She has advised professional parties on specific issues of potential criminality arising in Court of Protection cases. Nina lectures on a variety of topics, most notably cross-jurisdictional disclosure, joint enterprise and vulnerable defendants. She is a mentor with the Association of Women Barristers and a member of Women in Criminal Law and Women in the Law.

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Dr Felicity Gerry KC

International King’s Counsel at Libertas Chambers, London and Crockett Chambers, Melbourne & Professor of Legal Practice: Global Law Experts 2024 Handbook White Collar Criminal Litigation law representative . 2023 Global Law Experts International Criminal Law Barrister. 2023 Recognised as “One of the top 5 international lawyers you want on your side” by Law and Crime Productions. 2023 Legal 500: “Felicity is a fearless courtroom performer, dedicated to putting her clients cases faithfully and sympathetically. She is also an authoritative legal analyst.” 2020 Lawyers Weekly Australian Barrister of the Year 2016 UK Solicitors Journal Legal Personality of the Year. 2016 led the appeal before the UK Supreme Court in R v Jogee described by the BBC as “a genuine moment of legal history” Labelled “The International Dynamo” Dr Felicity Gerry KC is Global Experts White Collar Crime Expert. She recently defended in a multi-defendant alleged conspiracy to evade commodity-based tax on large scale transnational organised operation. She led the legal memorandum on due diligence in investment listing on SGX which led to the $82 million divestment of the Golden City scheme and she has a long history of prosecuting and leading for the defence in large scale fraud, oligarch asset restraint, terrorist financing and money laundering. Felicity is admitted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) (currently defending Mr Al Hassan) and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague, to the Bar of England & Wales and the Victorian Bar, Australia. She has also had ad hoc admission in Hong Kong and Gibraltar. Felicity is a dedicated and experienced advocate who leads for the defence in serious, complex, and sensitive trials and appeals at every level of court. She is known for her exceptional courtroom presence and has been described in Legal 500 as “a leader in her field”, “a fearless and effective advocate”, and “a true inspiration to junior lawyers” and in Chambers and Partners as “A wonderful fighter with an extraordinary intellect, she’s very efficient and very good with clients“. Felicity holds a PhD, a Master of Laws in International Governance (LLM Int Gov), a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (GCUTL). She is a Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin University, Melbourne where she is the Unit Chair in the undergraduate and JD programs teaching ‘Contemporary International Legal Challenges’ – including Sanctions Law, War Crimes, Modern Slavery, Digital / Tech law, Terrorism, and Art Law and she is involved in the clinical programs. She is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Health and Society at Salford University. Felicity has consulted for the UNODC on the intersection between human trafficking, the smuggling of migrants and cybercrime. She has a long history of training professionals: this includes prosecutors in Rwanda on human trafficking, gender-based violence and corruption law as part of the Bridges to Justice Project; the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Modern Slavery Project and the Bangladesh Judiciary Management Project. Her policy submissions have led to changes in the law on Modern Slavery, FGM and Reproductive Rights and supported approaches to Afghanistan post-withdrawal. She currently leads a Legal Services Board funded research project on Modern Slavery. She led a death penalty study for the Commission of Human Rights for the Philippines and a Human Trafficking report in 2023 for the International Bar Association and contributed to the 2022 Edge of Law Report in key legal challenges in the Asia-Pacific for the Bar Human Rights Committee and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. Felicity is widely published in the fields of women and law, technology and law, and reforming justice systems. She contributes to Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals, the Research Handbook on Feminist Engagement in International Law, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice, and is the Editor of ANZSIL Perspective. Awards 2020:   Shortlisted for the International Bar Association Pro Bono Award 2020:   Lawyers Weekly Barrister of the Year. 2019:   Nominated for Victorian Bar Pro Bono Award for Zak Grieve mercy petition 2018:   Deans Medal for Master of Laws in International Governance 2016:   NT Human Rights Award for Justice (organizations and groups) as a member of the Making Justice Work Coalition 2016:   Legal Personality of the Year: UK Solicitors Journal 160th Anniversary Awards 2015:   CDU Ryan Family Award for commitment to excellence, outstanding results in research and innovative teaching approaches. It was recognized that “Felicity has played key roles in the development of international partnerships and has contributed to important outcomes in the region”.

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Ayaz Qazi KC

Ayaz is a specialist criminal practitioner and exclusively defends. His practice has developed into one which is ‘serious crime’ heavy. His cases routinely involve significant and sensitive issues of both fact and law. He has appeared in many high-profile matters, most notably R v Ahmed an honour-based killing which at the time was described in the Sunday Times Review as one of the most extraordinary cases of modern times. His consistent excellence in Advocacy was recently recognised by his appointment to silk. His recent workload has included: R v MA 2020 – Gross Negligence Manslaughter R V TM 2021 – Drive by shooting R v AY  2022  – Multiple shootings / Murder / Attempted Murder R V LH 2022 –  Attempted Murder R v EK  2023 –  Rape R v SA   2023 – Preparatory acts of Terrorism R v BE  2023 –   Petroleum related Duty Evasion R v SA  2023  – Attempted Murder x 3 R v LH 2023 –  Conspiracy to Supply Class A ( £1 billion ) R v DW 2024 – Duty Evasion Throughout the last fifteen years of practice, Ayaz has regularly been instructed in cases like his recent workload. He has excelled in cases where the allegations have been of a sexual nature. His handling of vulnerable witnesses and conduct of sensitive cross examinations have been commended by the judiciary. He has appeared for the defence in many of the gang related ‘grooming’ cases tried throughout England and Wales. He is a vulnerable witness trained advocate and routinely conducts s28 hearings. In financial related crime he continues to receive instructions in complex frauds and particularly cases relating to the evasion of duty. He has substantial experience of cases presented with voluminous evidence. These have included MTIC Fraud where he has often appeared as case leader. In 2023, appeared as case leader for the defence in a Prosecution involving the single largest seizure of Class A drugs in Yorkshire. The allegation of conspiracy to supply was valued in the region of a billion pounds. The negotiation to a much lesser offence after the Trial had commenced resulted in the Defendant receiving a term of imprisonment leading to his imminent release. Ayaz is fluent in Urdu and Punjabi.  

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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. In 2022, Keith successfully defended and completed Operation Aspen, resulting in non-custodial and non-financial penalties and led for the first defendant in a Million-pound conspiracy to defraud Trading Standards investigation into Energy Saving company and has been instructed  in Operation Rotunda, a HMRC tax investigation into Geneva based high net worth entrepreneur. Keith is also instructed in Asset Freezing Order applications made by Police involving a West Midland Property and Development company.

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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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Benjamin Knight

Benjamin Knight is a distinguished and accomplished barrister, renowned for his exceptional abilities and extensive experience in tackling some of the most intricate and severe criminal cases. He frequently offers expert advice on high-profile cases involving homicide, manslaughter, firearms offences, gang violence, significant organised crime, drug trafficking and importation, human trafficking, and the most severe cases of wounding, causing grievous bodily harm, rape, and sexual assault. Ben’s notable expertise in the Modern Slavery Act and the operation of the National Referral Mechanism render him an in-demand legal professional. He has delivered influential lectures and talks on the subject, both individually and in collaboration with other top-tier experts in the field. As leading counsel, Ben has participated in numerous high-level cases, demonstrating experience both alone and led in the Court of Appeal and High Court. Unfazed professionally, he frequently defends against two-counsel prosecution teams (silk and junior) while presenting highly persuasive arguments that have earned praise from judges and opponents alike. In 2022, Ben delivered a highly influential argument in the so-called “CTLs judicial review”, the outcome of which was eagerly anticipated by all criminal lawyers and the Government – particularly for its impact on the CBA industrial action. Additionally, Ben possesses remarkable expertise in IT evidence, boasting a level of technical knowledge that sets him apart from many legal practitioners. His well-known ability to cross-examine experts in multiple forensic fields often leads to his involvement in complex cases. Ben’s skill set also encompasses military law, where he has successfully represented service personnel in courts-martial, earning the admiration and respect of military discipline staff, whilst unafraid of asserting his independence from the Armed Forces in cases where there is a systemic failing from them. His experience in conducting jury/Article 2 inquests and more routine inquests further adds to his value as a legal team asset. Furthermore, Ben is a trailblazer in the legal community for his efforts in establishing the LGBTQIA+ Law Clinic. This initiative reflects his dedication to ensuring marginalized communities receive top-tier legal representation. Ben is a strategic legal professional whose skills and expertise are highly valued in his field. His experience and legal acumen make him the ideal choice for clients seeking the very best legal representation.   Testimonials Thank you so much for all the hard work that you and your pupil did for us! – IS: Crown Court Trial (Historic sexual offence) Absolutely brilliant. Amazing. Couldn’t get better. Chuffed! – Jamie Jones: Crown Court Trial (Serious violent crime) We cannot thank you enough for the all the support given to us as a family. Thank you. – JC: Client & Family (Sexual offence) Ben’s computer expertise is exceptional and, in my case, it was crucial. Thank you so much. – SM: Lay client charged with sexual offences Mr Knight is absolutely brilliant at what he does and he always goes the extra mile in his profession. His attention to detail and legal knowledge is incredible & I feel he really cares about his clients including myself when he represented me. – Michael Browne: Courts-Martial I am writing this short paragraph just to say thanks for everything Mr Ben Knight has done for me…if it wasn’t for Ben my life would have been finished I went through a very difficult time over these last 6 months and I appreciate all the bail applications even though the first and second application didn’t go through…Ben still tried his hardest for me to prove my innocence. I am so thankful to him and to my solicitors who stuck by me and fought for me. I appreciate everything you have done for me and for treating me like a normal human being and not judging me even though I was on serious charges. Thank you so much; you don’t understand how happy I am to finally have another chance to make my life better for mine and my family’s sake. I most definitely will be telling people if they need a barrister to definitely come to you. – Faisal Hussain: Crown Court Trial Defendant I would like to thank my legal team. They are amazing and I would recommend them to everyone. Once again, thank you for your great service. – DB: Crown Court – Attempted Murder – Acquittal I recently instructed Mr Benjamin Knight in respect of a Client facing separate indictments containing multiple counts of Making, Possessing and Distributing Indecent Photographs of Children. Mr Knight was identified as Counsel due to his level of experience and expertise both legally but with the additional factor of experience and knowledge in the world of IT. From the outset Mr Knight was approachable and readily available to provide clear and concise advice and guidance both in relation to legal issues but importantly in relation to technical issues regarding computers and associated software. The Client and his family were of good character and the Criminal Justice System was completely alien to them. Mr Knight guided them through the process in a calm and reassured manner making himself available on multiple occasions for case conferences. I would not hesitate to recommend instructing Mr Knight in any future matter and in particularly allegations where there is an element of IT/software based evidence. – Kevin Liston – Crime Partner at Russell and Russell (IIoC and Extreme Pornography)

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Umar Shahzad

Umar specialises in: Crime Family Law Civil & Commercial Litigation Human Rights Public Law 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. Chaynee practises predominantly in crime and inquests. Her further sub-specialisms include forensic science, maritime criminal law, maritime inquests, Higher Education inquests, and medical and mental health inquests. She currently accepts instructions nationally, with a focus on London and North Wales. Chaynee is an Honorary Lecturer in Emergency Medical Law at QMUL and the Blizard Institute – and has been involved with providing legal teaching on their MSc Emergency & Resuscitation Medicine since 2019. From 2023, she will also be teaching on their new MSc in Enhancing the Safety and Wellbeing of Persons in Care and Custody. Chaynee is also an Honorary Lecturer in Criminal Law (Department of Law), and Honorary Lecturer in Medicine: Medical Law (Department of Medicine) at Bangor University. She is also now the second contributor to the leading national Undergraduate textbook in Criminal Law – Smith, Hogan and Ormerod’s Essentials of Criminal Law – assisting the principal author, Professor David Ormerod CBE KC. Prior to practice, Chaynee spent over a decade as a University Law Lecturer and academic, teaching Criminal Law, Evidence, and Media Law, working as Head of Admissions for Law (Law Admissions Tutor), and as Director of an Innocence Casework Unit. As a member of Middle Temple since 2012, she was Called to the Bar in 2019. She is the Adviser (Lay Non-Medic) in Teaching & Learning and Examinations for the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath), and Full Member of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences (BAFS). She is also a member of the Criminal Bar Association, the Inquest Lawyers’ Group, the Honourable Society of Middle Temple, the Society of Legal Scholars, the Peer Review Panel of the International Journal of Emergency Services (IJES), and a Fast-Track Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Before lecturing, she was a Deck Rating in the Merchant Navy, and, as a member of the Cruising Association, Young Cruisers’ Association, and Bar Yacht Club, she maintains a keen interest in getting afloat whenever possible. Chaynee also has a keen interest in pre-hospital care and pre-hospital emergency medicine. In addition to her legal work in this area, she successfully completed the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC) Course, and is a First Responder with GoodSAM for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

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