Emma Shafton

Emma joined Chambers in 2011. She has since developed a busy criminal practice (both prosecuting and defending) as a led junior and as a junior alone. She also has a regulatory practice representing professional people in fitness to practise and disciplinary proceedings. She is known for her meticulous preparation, attention to detail and tenacity.

Organised crime

Emma is regularly instructed in cases of a serious, complex and often multi-handed nature. Recently, Emma has spent three months as a led junior representing a client alleged to be the head of a heroin and cocaine racket operating in Merseyside, and three months appearing as led junior for the defence in a case concerning a nationwide conspiracy to cause explosions. She has developed a reputation for her expertise in dealing with complex telecommunications evidence. Emma is a Level 3 Prosecutor and has been appointed to the Crown Prosecution Service’s Serious Crime Group specialist panel.

Financial crime

Emma has particular experience in financial crime and the proceeds of crime. As a led junior, Emma appeared for the defence at the Isleworth Crown Court in confiscation proceedings arising from £42 million money laundering convictions and at the Blackfriars Crown Court for one of ten defendants charged with multi-million-pound money laundering offences. In the Magistrates’ Court, Emma defends in civil enforcement and cash forfeiture proceedings. Emma completed a secondment at the Serious Fraud Office between July 2015 and March 2016 as disclosure counsel, providing assistance with an investigation into liquidity auctions held by the Bank of England during the financial crisis. Emma was appointed to the CPS Specialist Fraud List at Level 3 in 2018.

Professional Clients

Emma frequently represents professional people (often members of trade unions) in both criminal and regulatory matters. She has represented members of the Prison Officers Association, the Royal College of Midwifery, Unison and Unite. In the criminal courts, Emma has represented prison officers charged with misconduct in public office and accused of assaulting inmates. To date, all of these cases have resulted in acquittals. Emma has successfully defended a teacher maliciously charged with sexually assaulting a teenage student. In the regulatory sphere, Emma frequently represents health and care professionals including nurses, midwives, paramedics and social workers facing allegations of professional misconduct. Emma now accepts instructions to represent athletes facing disciplinary proceedings before their governing body and is currently retained by a Premier 15s women’s Rugby team as stand-in counsel.

Serious sexual offences

Emma has defended clients charged with serious sexual offences, including allegations of offences against children. She has experience dealing with allegations of historic sexual assault. She has been involved in cases involving vulnerable defendants, complainants and intermediaries.

Emma accepts direct instructions from the public under the Bar Direct scheme.

Notable Cases

R v CL (Maidstone Crown Court, 2018)

 Led by Ben Gordon, appeared on behalf of one of 4 prison officers charged with misconduct in public office. The charges arose out of an undercover investigation conducted by the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ programme into juvenile prison Medway Secure Training Centre run by G4S. Ben and Emma’s client was acquitted of all counts after a 9-week trial.

Press reports here


R v GM (Snaresbrook Crown Court, 2018)

As junior alone, secured unanimous acquittals in a historic sex case. Emma’s client was accused of indecently assaulting two sisters aged 6 and 7 in 1981. The allegations were first reported to the police in 2015 and 2017.


R v Gower (Isleworth Crown Court, 2018)

 As junior alone for the Crown, prosecuted a conspiracy to supply cocaine (5 kilograms). The defendant was unanimously convicted.


R v NO (2017)

Emma represented a teacher of 47 years’ standing charged with sexually assaulting a teenage student. A successful submission of no case to answer was made. The case was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘File of 4’ programme in February 2018.

Link to programme here


R v TLT (Kingston Crown Court, 2017)

Appeared for the lead defendant in a planned aggravated burglary of the address of two “high-class escorts” in Knightsbridge.


R v NM ‘Operation Sydney’ (Liverpool Crown Court, 2017)

 Appeared as led junior for one of eight defendants charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and commit commercial burglaries. The charges related to a nationwide campaign of thefts from ATMs (automatic teller machines) employing either ‘gas attack’ or ‘drag out’ methods. The case involved complex telecommunications evidence.

Press reports here


R v KD (Sheffield Crown Court, 2017)

 Appearing as junior alone, secured the unanimous acquittal of a man of good character charged with assault by penetration and sexual assault of a female under the age of 13. The defence was one of fabrication.


R v GW & another (Maidstone Crown Court, 2017)

Appearing as junior alone secured the unanimous acquittal of a prison officer charged with misconduct in public office. It was alleged that she and her senior officer colluded to plant an improvised weapon in the cell of a prisoner.

Press reports here


R v Leon Grant [2017] EWCA Crim 414 (Court of Appeal, Criminal Division)

Successful appeal against conviction for domestic ABH in respect of a jury irregularity.


R v Mark Chandler (Southwark Crown Court, 2017)

Appeared as junior alone for a defendant charged with possession of two kilograms of heroin with intention to supply.


R v Tony Hackett ‘Operation Cygnet’ (Blackfriars Crown Court, 2016)

Acted as junior alone for a defendant in a thirteen-handed football violent disorder concerning Arsenal and West Ham supporters. Emma’s client was the only defendant to be spared an immediate custodial sentence.

Press reports here


R v JO (2016)

Appearing on a certificate for counsel for a 15-year-old defendant, (13 at the time of the allegations), charged with three other male juveniles with serious sexual offences against a female classmate on school premises. The defendant was acquitted of two of the three charges against him and avoided notification.


R v Kyle Sheils ‘Operation Supola’ (Liverpool Crown Court, 2016)

Led by Tarquin McCalla for the lead defendant in a multi-handed conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine. The case last for three months and the papers served exceeded 150,000 pages. The case involved extensive and complex telecommunications evidence.

Press reports here


R v JA and another ‘Operation Okha’ (Isleworth Crown Court, 2016)

Acted for the second defendant alleged to have acted in joint enterprise with his brother by stabbing a young male twice. The offence was gang-related. Successful submission of no case to answer in respect of the section 18 GBH charge.


R v LO (Blackfriars Crown Court, 2016)

Defended in a nine-handed conspiracy to handle stolen goods. High value goods from Louis Vuitton, Sloane Street were stolen during a ‘smash-and-grab’ burglary.

Press reports here


R v AT (Wood Green Crown Court, 2016)

Acted as junior alone for the defendant charged with assault by penetration and sexual assault. The case was particularly sensitive, both defendant and complainant residents in a supported-living care home for adults. Both had a variety of mental health conditions and learning disabilities. The complainant was assisted by an intermediary at trial. The defendant was unanimously acquitted of all charges.


R v IY ‘Operation Gravati’ (Wood Green Crown Court, 2016)

 Acted as junior alone for the second defendant charged with possessing and discharging a Skorpion submachine gun with intent to endanger life. The Prosecution offered no evidence two weeks prior to trial.


R v TD (Wood Green Crown Court, 2015)

Acting as junior alone secured the acquittal of a defendant charged with arson with intent to endanger life (setting fire to a residential home with occupants inside). The case involved extensive legal argument.


R v PFH (Wood Green Crown Court, 2015)

Acted as junior alone for a defendant charged with carrying out an ammonia attack. The defendant was acquitted of the assault.


 R v AR & ors ‘Operation Kelpie’ (Basildon Crown Court, 2015)

Appeared for the third defendant in a nine-handed prosecution concerning the organised criminal activities of a group of men from Essex. The defendants faced charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Press reports here


R v Sherrine Xavier [2014] EWCA Crim 50

Successful appeal against sentence in a three-handed case of conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. The defendant received a non-custodial sentence. The case was reported, the Court of Appeal revisiting the definition of ‘vulnerable victim’.


R v OO (2014)

Represented a 15-year-old boy charged with a series of sexual offences against a girl under the age of 13 including rape. The defendant was sentenced to a twelve-month Referral Order.


R v Solmaz Jalali ‘Operation Distraction’ (Blackfriars Crown Court, 2013)

 Led by Kieran Galvin in a nine-week multi-handed money laundering trial. The case centered around two money exchange businesses in North London, which the Crown said acted as a front to launder millions of pounds throughout the indictment period in 2011. The case papers were voluminous, exceeding 12,000 pages, and the defendant received a suspended sentence of imprisonment.

 Press reports here



R v Naveed Ahmad (Isleworth Crown Court, 2012)

Led by Lisa Freeman in confiscation proceedings following a conviction for multi-million-pound money-laundering offences.

Press reports here


R v Gary Dobson (Central Criminal Court, 2011)

As Stephen Moses’ pupil (now QC), assisted the defence team for Gary Dobson, who was charged with the murder of Stephen Lawrence.


Professional Regulation & Discipline

Aside from crime, Emma also has a thriving civil regulatory practice. She frequently acts on behalf of professionals appearing before the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health and Care Professions Tribunal in fitness to practise proceedings. She has also, unusually, appeared before the Association of Child Psychotherapists on two occasions and is often approached by solicitors to deal with proceedings before smaller, more niche regulators. Emma acts for registrants at all stages of proceedings, from interim order to post-adjudication review and her experience means that she is familiar with the legal principles underpinning all healthcare regulators and equipped to deal with any case.

Notable cases:

NMC v CE (2017)

Represented a midwife of over 30-years standing with an unblemished career, accused of failing to act upon reports of reduced fetal movements and sharp abdominal pain in a full-term high risk expectant mother. The baby in question was born with significant brain damage and sadly passed away aged 2. The registrant’s case was that no such reports were made to her. The NMC found none of the facts against the registrant proved and dismissed the case against her.

NMC v KZ (2017)

Represented a midwife facing numerous charges concerning the care of two patients, including a charge of dishonesty (alleged falsification of clinical records). The NMC found none of the facts against the registrant proved and dismissed the case against her.

HCPC v RD (2017)

Represented a social worker working within the Foster Care team at an Inner London borough Council. He faced 7 charges alleging a lack of competence/misconduct and had been dismissed following an internal disciplinary hearing. The HCPC did not find misconduct or lack of competence and the registrant was free to return to practice without restriction.

NMC v AS (2016)

Represented a nurse charged with lack of competence. She had been suspended by her Trust and the NMC for two years pending the conclusion of the referral. Several successful submissions of no case to answer were made and several of the charges found not proved. The registrant was allowed to return to work with an unrestrictive conditions of practice order in place.

NMC v PW (2015)

Secured a Conditions of Practice Order at the outcome of proceedings for a registrant who had been suspended for two years by the NMC pending the conclusion of the proceedings. The case involved the deaths of two patients.

 NMC v SH (2015)

Represented a nurse working in an NHS hospital who was charged with assaulting a patient by forcibly bathing her. Misconduct was not found on any charge after a three-year process from Disciplinary Proceedings at Trust level until the conclusion of the NMC proceedings. The case raised important issues relating to a patient’s capacity to consent when not subject to admission under the Mental Health Act.

HCPC v RL (2015)

Represented a social worker employed by West Sussex County Council who faced various conduct charges alleging that she became too personally involved with a family who had a young child under a Special Guardianship Order. Exceptionally, Emma persuaded the panel to take ‘no further action’ at the sanction stage of proceedings arguing that the public interest component had been satisfied by a finding of impairment under that head and making submissions as to proportionality. The registrant had been unable to find work for over two years pending the resolution of proceedings and was able to reapply for jobs without any restriction or caution attached to her pin.

 NMC v AB & another (2015)

Successfully persuaded the NMC screening team not to proceed with referrals made against two members of staff at a private nursing home by use of ‘early engagement’.

 NMC v DA (2014)

Represented a nurse who was the manager of a private BUPA care home. Charged with a series of medication errors and conduct charges. Successful submissions of no case to answer at both facts and misconduct stages. Misconduct not found on any of the eight charges.


Road Traffic

Emma is frequently called upon to advise and represent defendants in complex road traffic matters. She is known for her success in advancing arguments of exceptional hardship and special reasons. Emma has dealt with cases involving laced drinks, emergencies, necessity/duress of circumstance, and calibration of speed cameras and has extensive experience of instructing expert witnesses to assist in the preparation of the defence case.

Education, prizes & awards

LLB (Hons.) Law (First Class)

The College of Law, Bloomsbury, London (2011)

Bar Professional Training Course (Outstanding)

The College of Law, Bloomsbury, London (2011)

Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction)

The College of Law, Bloomsbury, London (2010)

BA (Hons) History

University of York (2009)

Lincoln’s Inn Cholmley Studentship (2011)

Buchanan Prize (BPTC Result of ‘Outstanding’) (2011)

Lincoln’s Inn Lord Denning Scholarship (2010)

Lincoln’s Inn Lord Brougham Scholarship (2009)

Lincoln’s Inn Hardwicke Entrance Award (2009)


Professional memberships

Criminal Bar Association

Young Fraud Lawyers Association

Free Representation Unit

Amicus (Assisting Lawyers for Justice on Death Row)

The Denning Society

Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers


‘Cash Forfeiture: A Practical Guide’ (2015)