Craig Harris

A sports law, criminal defence & asset forfeiture specialist


‘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’

Ranked as a leading individual at the Bar by The Legal 500 – Crime, Fraud & Sports Law 2017

‘A high aptitude for dealing with thorny arguments’

The Legal 500, 2016

He has ‘Boundless knowledge’  

Young, Summers & Corker on Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings


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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 disciplinary tribunals.

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 through intermediaries including agents, clubs and other organisations.

Sports Law:

  • Panel counsel to the League Managers Association, representing managers in the Premier League and EFL
  • Listed on the Welsh Rugby Union’s list of counsel for disciplinary and anti-doping cases
  • Appointed to sit on the Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators
  • Sits as Chair of the England Boxing and FA National Anti-Discrimination disciplinary panels
  • High-profile cases include acting for club Chief Executives, managers, players, staff, agents & other Participants before FA tribunals, as well as acting for The FA itself: Including in The Football Association v Arsene Wenger – see the Commission’s decision here
  • Experienced in dealing with the full range of misconduct allegations, including safeguarding, discrimination and integrity matters (violations of “insider betting” regulations), both in and out of competition

Crime & Asset Forfeiture:

  • Acted for Edwards in Harkins & Edwards v The UK before the European Court of Human Rights
  • Represented the Appellant in the seminal case of R v Robinson-Pierre concerning strict liability – Crown’s application for leave to appeal successfully opposed at Supreme Court level
  • Retained in $billion international dividend-arbitrage proceedings (Dubai)
  • Appeared in numerous high-profile murder, organised crime & people trafficking cases (see below)
  • Acted in multiple international drug trafficking cases: Including ‘The UK’s largest importation‘ and ‘Europe’s largest drugs conspiracy
  • Instructed in multi-million-pound fraud matters & connected confiscation proceedings
  • Appears at all levels of the justice system dealing with regulatory offences and associated matters

High-profile clients have included Thomas Hitzlsperger (former German international and Premier League football star, ‘Der Hammer’), Derek ‘Del Boy’ Chirsora (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 remain confidential.

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

Sports Law

Craig is appointed to sit as Chair of:

  • The Football Association’s National Anti-Discrimination Disciplinary Commission; and
  • The England Boxing Disciplinary Panel

He is also appointed to sit on the Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators (2018-2021)

He is retained on The League Managers Association and Sport Resolutions panels of counsel, advising and representing managers of clubs in the Premier League and EFL through the LMA and acting in a wide range of sporting disputes through Sport Resolutions.

He has acted for the Football Association and numerous other high-profile clients, appearing regularly before Football Association Regulatory Commission and Appeal Board hearings.

Many of these matters remain confidential.  Cases include:

  • The FA v Hartlepool United & Others (acted for the former club CEO in a significant appeal concerning disguised payment of agents fees for player transfers)
  • Acting for numerous club managers and other coaching staff
  • The FA v Arsene Wenger (2016/17 season) – see the Commission decision here
  • A high-profile Premier League player’s appeal against suspension arising out of the “Battle of Stamford Bridge” (Chelsea v Tottenham, 2015/16 season)
  • The Witton Park Rose & Crown FC v Black Bull AFC mass confrontation
  • Multiple on and off-field misconduct cases, including aggravated breaches of FA Rule E3
  • Violations of the “insider” betting regulations
  • Breaches of the Agents and Intermediaries rules

Craig is also recommended on the Welsh Rugby Union’s list of counsel for disciplinary and anti-doping cases and is listed on the Sport Resolutions panel of pro bono counsel, offering pro bono services across a wide range of sports.

He is part of the inaugural Law in Sport mentorship scheme (2018/19).

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.  Notable cases and press reports are listed below.

He is also experienced in dealing with regulatory offences at all levels of the justice system, including Health & Safety and HMO-related matters, acting for defendants and private prosecutors.  

His expertise includes:

  • Complicated conspiracy cases, centring around Organised Criminal Networks
  • Cases involving informants and Public Interest Immunity-protected material
  • 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

Craig has a particular interest in cases involving novel law and legal argument, as demonstrated in the notable cases section below, as well as those involving complex issues of expert evidence.

In that regard he has advised and represented notable clients across the spectrum of driving offences, including those involving road collisions resulting in multiple fatalities.

Craig also has experience of dealing with cases concerning the mental health provisions and historical allegations.  He has conducted cases centring on fitness to plead, not-insane automatism and insanity defences, and cases involving young and vulnerable defendants and witnesses.

Notable cases below.


HOMICIDE

The murder of Shahena Uddin (Dec, 2015): Murder – 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

Fraud & Asset Recovery

Craig is experienced in conducting all ancillary proceedings that arise particularly out of fraud, money laundering and other dishonesty cases.

In addition to significant fraud trials in themselves, he has contested multi-million pound confiscation proceedings, forfeiture applications and applications for disqualification of directors.

His experience in this field has seen him retained by the defence to advise in a pre-charge investigation into a $billion international withholding tax and dividend arbitrage fraud (based in Dubai) and associated money laundering allegations.

Notable cases below.

R v J & J (2018): 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

Licensing & Civil Proceedings

Craig has appeared before:

  • Licensing Committee hearings
  • Disciplinary tribunals
  • The County Court
  • The Coroner’s Court
  • The magistrates court in cash forfeiture proceedings, including for the Defendant in Kent Police v Rusha:  Cash detention and forfeiture proceedings stemming from the infamous £50m Tonbridge Securitas depot heist

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

Reported 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

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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