Grahame James


Recognised in Chambers & Partners as a leading junior in all areas of financial and organised crime.

Grahame has practiced exclusively as a criminal defence advocate for over thirty years, and in that time has developed a leading junior practice, specialising in large scale and high profile fraud and organised crime.

His high acquittal rate is testament to his dedication to the client and his attention to the detail of every case.

He has represented accountants, and corporate leaders caught up in fraud, copyright theft, VAT, trademark disputes and the like. He has defended in cases of child murder, mercy killings, gangland assassinations, kidnapping, and drug and people trafficking on international scales.

A fierce defender of the English legal system, and the right to trial by one’s peers, “you can lose the Judge, but you must always keep the jury on your side”.


Business Crime

Grahame is a leading defence practitioner in fraud. He has been involved in several of the more significant cases prosecuted by the SFO, HMRC and the FSA. They often involve high volume, complex and multiple complainant cases.


Notable Cases

R v Ahmed, (Southwark CC 2019): Instructed as Leading Counsel to represent a Company Director charged with missing trader intra community VAT fraud (MTIC), and money laundering, prosecuted by HMRC. This was a sizeable VHCC prosecution. It concerned ten or more defendants and their alleged participation with multiple Limited companies involved in the importation of beverages with estimated losses to the revenue in excess of £80M.

R v Locke, (Southwark CC 2018): Instructed as Leading Counsel to represent Mr. Locke, the primary defendant, in a 6-week trial at Southwark Crown Court concerning a £1 million pension liberation fraud, the first prosecution of its kind in the UK. The case concerned multiple parties who joined the fraud in order to transfer their pensions from their pension companies under the guise of an occupational pension scheme, where upon the funds were split; 50% went to the customer and 50% was kept by the fraud. The whole operation relied upon multiple limited companies, sophisticated documentation, overseas bank accounts, companies and of course accountants. The trial revealed the complicity of all parties in this most unusual and singular case, and the Crown were forced to admit the fraudulent involvement of their complainants. This was only possible by the endeavours of the defence team who had approx. 100,000 emails to scan for evidence of complicity, resulting in the defendant being acquitted of 6 counts and reducing considerably the financial implications.

R v K, (Southwark CC 2018). A prosecution by the SFO against Mr. K who was based in Dubai, and was alleged to be involved in bribery and corruption surrounding his consultancy business that assisted in securing over $50M contracts to build an oil well in Iraq. Investigations are proceeding but he was prosecuted at Southwark CC in 2016 for offences under the Criminal Justice Act which was the first prosecution of its kind in Britain. Wall Street Journal.

R v Abbott & others, (Guildford CC 2018). Mr Abbott was charged with mortgage fraud on a commercial scale, providing details and backgrounds for customers to defraud the lenders, resulting in huge potential loss. Accountants and financial advisers were drawn into this conspiracy that had far wider ramifications than expected.

Grahame has particular expertise in representing those accused of organised crime. His cases are frequently of long duration and involve substantial amounts of evidence on a wide range of issues, including telephonic, banking and computer material. He acts predominantly as leading junior.

Most recently, he has been representing those charged with firearms and drug offences, and kidnapping.


Notable Cases 

R v Wishart (Liverpool CC 2019). Successfully secured the acquittal, after a 4 month trial, of a man accused with ten others of conspiracy to endanger life and to traffic firearms including Uzi sub-machine guns, sawn-off shot guns, pistols, and the most criminally used single gun in the UK. The case centered upon two gangs in Liverpool with drug trafficking affiliations and spanned several months of activity including the shooting of a man in the head, and a gun fight in the street. A complex and complicated case with protracted legal submissions and disclosure issues which stopped the case at half-time, only for the Crown to add fresh charges, requiring the Jury to acquit.

R v Zabir (Kingston CC 2019) Successfully secured the acquittal of the first of 6 defendants in a 7 week drugs conspiracy trial, involving the sale and distribution of multiple kilos of class A drugs between London and the Midlands. The Crown amassed telephonic evidence, CCTV, surveillance and forensic evidence, but singularly lost the vital legal arguments to introduce the most damning peripheral evidence.

R v Gningue, (CCC 2018): Counsel successfully secured the acquittal of a defendant charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, and robbery. He was one of three men so charged, the case revolving around the torture of a man in the defendant’s flat to extort money from him. He was whipped and beaten and threatened with a hot iron before agreeing to go to his bank to get out a loan. The case was clearly about something that none of them would reveal. The Crown relied upon forensics, telephone evidence, cell site and CCTV and direct testimony, but the defence were still able to create a significant doubt in the minds of the jury.

R v Aziz, (CCC 2017): Successfully secured the acquittal of defendant charged with false imprisonment and torture, allegedly connected to a central London drug gang’s retribution. The case was unusual and forensically challenging in that the majority of the events over an entire day were caught on a cctv security system owned by one of the defendants. The victim was kidnapped then tied up in a garage and tortured with electrical cables, hammers, an oxyacetylene torch, petrol, pliers and more.

R v Burr & others, (Birmingham 2016). Successfully secured the acquittal of Mr. Burr, following a 13 week trial concerning conspiracy to supply class A drugs on a National scale, from the Midlands through London and abroad. Huge amount of material relied upon by the Crown with time lines, phones, cell site, observations etc. Close forensic analysis of the core material running to many thousands of pages resulted in the destruction of the Crown’s theories and ultimately the acquittal of Mr. Burr.

R v Malik & others (Birmingham 2018) Following the acquittal in the above case, the main defendant Mr. Malik, who had had a hung jury, instructed Grahame as leading junior to represent him, rather than Queen’s Counsel who was presently instructed. A further two trials on varying drugs conspiracies ensued lasting a total of 4 months and with 14 defendants. Malik was acquitted on all counts in both trials, and as a result, all co-defendants beneath him were acquitted with him. This was a huge case, both voluminous and complex. A good example of the prosecution getting overly confident in the overwhelming strength of their case.

R v Blaga, (Southwark CC 2015). First on Indictment at Southwark Crown Court of 8 week multi-handed conspiracy to traffic, prostitute and rape women from Hungary. Early case invoking the new stringent vulnerable witness provisions.

Grahame has acted as both leading junior and led junior in some high profile murder trials, frequently tried before the Central Criminal Court.

Grahame has acted as both leading junior and led junior in some high profile murder trials, frequently tried before the Central Criminal Court.


Notable Cases

R v Smith (CCC, 2019): Representing the first of 6 defendants in a 10 week trial involving murder by arson. An attack that was motivated by drug gang rivalry in South East London.

The case turned on highly complex evidential features of cell site data, observation and covert video surveillance. A cut-throat defence was pursued by all defendants.

R v Garner (Leicester CC 2018): Representing one of two defendants charged with the murder by stabbing of a young man, thought to be in revenge for an earlier killing. A tit-for-tat style homicide after confrontation between rival drug gangs.

R v Tinuoso. Acted alone in Central Criminal court for Defendant charged with Murder of a complete stranger “on a whim”. Case involved complicated psychiatric issues and hospital negligence for early release of mental patient.

R v Manai. (CCC 2017) Manai was charged with one other on a double murder. Police were called to a flat where two mutilated bodies were discovered having suffered a brutal slaying using knives and steam iron, believed to be classic revenge killings by Southern Italian nationals. Case built upon compilation of forensic, telephonic, csi, cctv, and post mortem analysis, and complicated by a cut-throat defence.

R v Jacob. (CCC 2016) Tragic case of the murder of a baby by its parents, involving shaken baby syndrome. The case naturally turned on in-depth forensic analysis with multiple experts.

R v Hall. (Lewes CC) Highly emotional case involving a father charged with the “mercy” killing of his teenage daughter who severely suffered with chronic depression. Charged with murder, he refused to accept manslaughter as this would imply he was reckless or acting without intent. Highly connected with the Church and friends with the Chief Constable, this was a high profile and tragic case.

Grahame is frequently instructed in all areas of serious sexual offending, from child grooming and stranger rape, to human trafficking and historic sexual abuse to indecent images and domestic allegations

He was instructed in the Oxford child-grooming case, as the only non-silk, at the Central Criminal Court in 2016 and was the only one of 12 defendants to be acquitted following a 4 month trial.


  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association.
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