Craig Harris

A specialist in Sports Law, Serious & Financial Crime and Regulatory proceedings


Ranked as a leader at the Bar in Sports Law and Crime by The Legal 500.   The directory says:

“He is a powerful and persuasive advocate who is able to deal with novel and complex issues with ease.  He provides clear and considered advice.  An ability to build an immediate rapport with lay clients even in the most testing of circumstances”.

“A passionate lawyer, whose commitment to a case is admirable and does not go unnoticed by clients.  He thinks carefully about the arguments he wishes to make and works collaboratively when preparing a case”.

Previous editions of the directory said:

‘He is very experienced – articulate and composed, with a good eye for detail.  A powerful advocate as much as he is technically able, he is excellent in cases with novel issues.  A persuasive advocate inside and outside the courtroom, with a sharp intellect to gain the best possible result.’

‘He has a superb eye for detail and grasps the issues in a case quickly, however substantial or complex the evidence.  An excellent tactician, appreciated for his thorough approach.  An impressive advocate and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Clearly very experienced and comfortable in sports disciplinary proceedings.  Always thinking laterally’.

He has ‘Boundless knowledge’. Young, Summers & Corker on Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings (3rd ed.)


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Craig has extensive experience conducting the most serious, complex and high-profile cases at trial, before the Court of Appeal, UK Supreme Court, European Court of Human Rights and numerous sports dispute & regulatory tribunals, where he offers a unique combination of sports law expertise and many years experience as a courtroom trial advocate.

He is qualified to act on a Direct Access basis, offering cost-effective, expert advice and leading representation to clients with direct access to their barrister. This service can also be accessed by, or through intermediaries including companies/clubs, employers, agents, governing bodies and other organisations.

See the sections below for further details, notable cases and press reports by practice area.

Sports Law
  • Counsel to the League Managers Association, advising & representing managers in the Premier League and EFL.
  • Appointed to sit on the Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators.
  • Sits as Chair of the England Boxing disciplinary panel and FA National Serious Case and Anti-Discrimination panel.
  • Listed on the Welsh Rugby Union’s list of disciplinary panel counsel.
  • High-profile cases include advising/acting for club Chief Executives, managers, players, staff, intermediaries & other Participants before FA disciplinary and arbitral (Rule K) tribunals, as well as acting for The FA itself: Including in The Football Association v Arsene Wenger – see the Commission’s decision here – and acting for the former Club CEO in the seminal appeal of Hartlepool Utd v The FA, concerning disguised intermediary payments.
  • Has advised world sport governing bodies on internal and international integrity investigations.
  • Experienced in dealing with the full range of misconduct allegations, including safeguarding, discrimination and integrity/betting matters, both in and out of competition, as well as violations of the agents and intermediaries rules.
  • Appointed as General Counsel to First Access Sports, under a Bar dual-capacity practising certificate.
  • Significant recent matters have included advising the National League on the viability of holding its 2019/20 season Playoffs under the Coronavirus Regulations, acting for Port Vale FC striker Tom Pope in FA disciplinary proceedings and the successful defence of Jamie Jones against match-fixing allegations before the World Snooker Association.
  • Also advises clients on employment-related issues arising under professional sports contracts, including termination agreements that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Other high-profile clients have included Thomas Hitzlsperger (the former German international and Premier League football star, ‘Der Hammer’, who kept his licence after speeding at over 100mph), Derek ‘Del Boy’ Chirsora (the World Heavyweight boxing title contender), Eric Hall (the flamboyant football and entertainment industry agent), Franz Drameh (DC Legends of Tomorrow actor) & Tempa T (UK grime artist). 

Sports tribunal proceedings & clients remain confidential where not already published.

Serious Crime

Craig appears regularly in cases of murder, kidnap, people trafficking, serious violence, firearms, large-scale drugs operations, arson, serious sexual offences and offences of dishonesty, including fraud and proceedings for perverting the course of justice.

He acted for Edwards in Harkins & Edwards v The UK before the European Court of Human Rights, represented the Appellant in the leading case concerning strict liability R v Robinson-Pierre (successfully opposing the Crown’s application for leave to appeal at Supreme Court level) and numerous high-profile, organised crime & people trafficking cases, including ‘The UK’s largest importation‘ and ‘Europe’s largest drugs conspiracy

He is also experienced in dealing with regulatory offences at all levels of the justice system, including Trading Standards, Health & Safety and HMO-related matters, acting for defendants and private prosecutors, and has represented high-profile individuals charged with motoring proceedings.

His expertise includes:

  • Complicated conspiracy cases, centring around Organised Criminal Networks
  • Cases involving informants and Public Interest Immunity-protected material
  • Serious road traffic collisions resulting in multiple fatalities
  • Significant Trading Standards and Local Authority prosecutions
  • Sensitive cases concerning sexual misconduct and related matters
  • Advising independently on appeal following criminal conviction
  • Applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission

Notable cases below.


HOMICIDE

The murder of Elton Gash (March 2020):  Youth stabbing in public park.

The murder of Shahena Uddin (Dec, 2015): Familial homicide – death of vulnerable adult – Further press reports

The Surjeet Singh killing (2014): Conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent – violent disorder – stabbing – Press reports here

The Reece Menzies murder (2013): Alleged gangland murder – shooting – manslaughter verdicts – Press reports here


SERIOUS VIOLENCE & FIREARMS

R v Thompson (2017/18): Alleged conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life, including a loaded Uzi – successful appeal against conviction

R v Halstead (2017): Alleged GBH with intent – chopping off index finger for drugs debt – Press reports here

R v Lightfoot (2017): Alleged false imprisonment – GBH with intent – threats to injure with a pneumatic drill

R v Islam (2017): Relating to a spree of shootings in tit-for-tat gang warfare around the Bedford area – shotguns and scorpion machine gun – Press reports here

R v Hamilton (2016): Alleged kidnapping at gunpoint – successful duress defence – Press reports here

R v Merice Brown (2015): Attempted murder – shooting – confession 10 years after the event – Press reports here

R v Darko-Kwakye (2014-2015): Leading counsel – Gangland kidnap for ransom – drugs deal gone wrong – second revenge kidnap followed – torture – firearms – hot irons – GBH – perverting the course of justice – see the trial Judge’s observations here

R v Garratty & Others (2013): Armed robbery – Flying Squad  – conspiracy to rob to multiple small businesses with live firearms – Press reports here

R v Bethel & Others (2013): Armed robbery – orchestrated raid of a high value goods storage facility – use of cable ties, CS gas and multiple getaway vehicles

Football-related violence:  Including West Ham and Sunderland violence (2014) – Violent disorder at the Wembley FA Cup Final amongst Millwall fans (2013) – Operartion Balconi (widespread violence between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham fans)

R v Sahil Patel (2010): Gangland drug-related kidnap for ransom


DRUGS

R v Wakeling & Others:  Conspiracy to import £8m worth of amphetamine – Press Reports here

R v Hart & Others (2017): Conspiracy to import massive amounts of Class A drugs – dropped from light aircraft flown into the UK under radar – Press reports here

Operation Casino (2016): Conspiracy to flood the Midlands with Class A drugs trafficked from London

Operation Brutus (2015):  Widespread commercial drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy – Press reports here

R v Bhatia (2013/14):  SOCA prosecution – multi-million pound drugs and cigarette importation – approximately 50kg of cocaine, 100kg of cannabis and millions of cigarettes imported through a bonded warehouse – Led by Oliver Blunt QC

Operation Nemesis (2013) – Acted for Scott Rafferty – family drugs “empire” – Press reports here

R v Dang & Others (Operation Opaque; Central Criminal Court, 2012): International organised crime syndicate conspiring to produce cannabis on largest ever scale in the UK – said to be the largest drugs conspiracy ever uncovered in Europe – acquitted following 4-month trial – Press reports here

R v Glen Cornick (Operation Beath II, 2011): The UK’s largest drugs importation – tonnes of cocaine and cannabis imported worth more than £100million – £28million confiscation proceedings conducted alone – Led by Oliver Blunt QC – Press reports here

The “K Network” (2011): Conspiracy to supply drugs from London to Norwich – flooding Norwich with class A drugs – represented a leading defendant


DISHONESTY:  PERVERTING & REGULATORY OFFENCES

R v Tamale (2017) – Alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice arising out of the murder of Khiry Ford – Press reports here 

R v Iqbal (2015): Trading Standards prosecution – large-scale conspiracy to produce and import counterfeit clothing from Pakistan – confiscation proceedings pending

R v S & Others (2013): Newham Borough Council prosecution – extensive HMO and regulatory/welfare offences charged against a limited company and its directors in person – successful application of the ruling in Sumal and Sons to stay confiscation proceedings worth more than half-a-million pounds

R v Omarov & Angelov (2013): Perverting the course of justice – alleged to attempt by a Russian billionaire and a head hotel concierge to “buy off” a prosecution witness – acted for the concierge – Press reports here

R v Nicholas & Smith (2012): Retained as leading counsel – DEFRA prosecution – animal welfare and “cattle ringing” fraud


SERIOUS SEXUAL OFFENCES

R v Csomor, Ruszo & Others: International people trafficking for sexual exploitation – management of brothels – human slavery – Press reports here

R v TM (2016): Attempted “stranger rape”- Press reports here

R v SH (2014): Rape following serious violence within relationship – issues surrounding application of the ‘section 75’ presumptions against consent

R v MH (2014): Rape – adult defendant with IQ of a child – fitness to plead in issue

R v MP (2012):  Alleged kidnap, false imprisonment and violent gang rape

R v RJ (2010): Sexual offences against children – historical allegations – multiple complainants – making and possession of indecent images

R v D (2009):  Perverting the course of justice – juvenile charged with making false allegations to have been victim of a double rape by two brothers

Financial Crime & Asset Recovery

Craig was retained for the defendant Shah in $billion international dividend-arbitrage proceedings (Dubai) related to the ‘cum-ex’ trading scandal.

He is regularly instructed in multi-million-pound fraud matters and is experienced in conducting all ancillary proceedings that arise out of fraud, money laundering and other dishonesty cases, including contesting multi-million pound confiscation proceedings, forfeiture applications and applications for disqualification of directors.

He is also experienced in dealing with cash detention and forfeiture applications before the magistrates court, including having acted for the Defendant in Kent Police v Rusha: Cash detention and forfeiture proceedings resulting from the infamous £50m Tonbridge Securitas depot heist.

Notable cases below.


R v J & J (2019): Private prosecution of solicitors alleged to have to defrauded their employer company by generation of false profit and bonus schedules

R v Mosley (2017/18): Large scale wine fraud and confiscation proceedings – Press reports here

Re SS (up to 2017) – Retained in $billion international, multi-jurisdictional dividend arbitrage/withholding tax proceedings (Dubai) – Press reports here

R v Bolster (2017) – An alleged fake “Botox” injection fraud by unqualified medical practitioners – Press reports here

R v Ashman (2016) – Alleged laundering of a drug-lord’s criminal proceeds – Press reports here

R v Karl Gilleeney (2014) – VAT fraud conspiracy

R v Smith (Operation Bugs, 2013): Trading Standards prosecution – conspiracy to defraud – national Sky box warranty fraud – Press reports here

Operation Icicle (2012): Large-scale car ringing and exportation conspiracy

R v Glen Cornick (Operation Beath II, 2011): The UK’s largest drugs importation – tonnes of cocaine and cannabis imported worth more than £100million – £28million confiscation proceedings conducted alone – Led by Oliver Blunt QC – Press reports here

Regulatory, Licensing & Civil Proceedings

Craig appears at all levels of the justice system dealing with Trading Standards prosecutions, regulatory offences and associated matters, including acting for pilots before the Civil Aviation Authority, against whom Craig secured a successful outcome for a jet pilot who admitted flying 60+ worldwide passenger flights without the requisite licence rating.

He has also appeared before:

  • Licensing Committee hearings.
  • The County Court.
  • The Coroner’s Court.

He is available to conduct site visits and provides advice at all stages of the licensing process, from the application and renewal stage through to breach and revocation proceedings.

Appellate Cases

R v Thompson [2018] EWCA Crim 2082Successful appeal against conviction – conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life – sentence of 18 years imprisonment quashed

R v F [2014] EWCA Crim 2788:  Successful appeal against sentence – sexual offences – submissions described by the Court of Appeal as “skilled” and “carefully formulated”

R v Robinson-Pierre [2013] EWCA Crim 2396: Seminal case concerning interpretation of section 3(1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 – extent to which liability is “strict” – prosecution application for leave successfully opposed at Supreme Court level – Press reports here and here

Harkins and Edwards v the UK (European Court of Human Rights, 2012; Application No.32650/07); Argued that extradition to the USA to face charges for an “execution style murder” and possible life imprisonment without possibility of parole would violate Article 3 of the European Convention – overturned the House of Lords decision in Wellington regarding application of the Convention in extradition cases – Led by Mark Summers QC – ECHR press release of judgment and press reports

R v Maurice Flanders [2011] EWCA Crim 2121: Appeal against sentence – dwelling burglary – multitude of antecedent burglaries – effect on sentence – application of section 153 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 vis-a-vis public protection in sentencing

R v Lyons [2010] EWCA Crim 155: Appeal against sentence against refusal of the single judge to grant leave – appropriate sentence for multiple breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order – submissions described by the Court of Appeal as “exceptionally competent”, “bold” and “succinctly but forcefully made”

Publications & Lectures

Panel speaker at the LawInSport global Football Law Conference, 2020.

‘The English FA v Hartlepool United:  Are “deterrent sanctions” permissible?’ Football Legal International Journal, Issue #10, December 2018

Acknowledged contributor to Young, Summers & Corker on Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings (Bloomsbury, 3rd ed.)

Policy Knowledge Event Lecture:  A New Strategy to Tackle Dangerous Dogs – Assessing the Reforms to the Dangerous Dogs Act, May 2015

Regular speaker and lecturer at events concerning criminal law and sports disciplinary procedures

Please contact Craig by email or via Chambers’ clerks to discuss inviting him to speak at an event.

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