Nicholas James

Nicholas James is a leading fraud practitioner with particular expertise in complex financial and business crime.

His recent cases include representing a former Barclays trader convicted of Libor rigging in an appeal against conviction (R v Pabon [2018] EWCA Crim 420; [2018] Lloyd’s Rep. F.C. 258; [2018] Crim. L.R. 662) and defending a company director in a series of three complex fraud trials alleging fraudulent trading, false accounting and defrauding Natwest.

He is presently instructed in Operation Balaban, a Carbon Credit fraud and two MTIC frauds – Operation Lithium and Operation Epsom.

As an astute tactician and compelling advocate, Nicholas is able to present complex and voluminous cases to juries in an attractive and engaging way.  His attention to detail and commitment mean that he is highly valued by solicitors and regularly instructed to defend professional clients.

For further information about Nick’s experience and expertise, please see the Serious Crime and Fraud sections below.

Fraud

Nicholas has appeared in the full range of long and complex fraud trials from banking fraud, to fraudulent trading, Tax fraud and boiler room fraud.

Over the next 12 months he will defend in a carbon credit fraud, two MTIC frauds and a cybercrime case involving an attack on a US state pension scheme.

Notable Cases

R v Pabon – Court of Appeal (2018)

Led by Tom Allen QC, Nicholas appeared in the Court of Appeal for one of the Barclays traders who had been convicted of Libor rigging.  The appeal focused on an expert called by the SFO to explain banking, including Libor and STIR, to the Jury.  However, it became apparent during the retrial of a co-defendant that the witness was not in fact an expert in those areas and had not complied with his duties as an expert.

R v H & Ors – Sheffield CC – 2017

Nick acted for the main defendant in this complex fraud case concerning allegations of fraudulent trading, fraud and money laundering. The Crown alleged that the defendants had deliberately allowed the company to go into liquidation to avoid paying creditors, only to start a ‘phoenix’ company.   However, during the trial the defence uncovered that this was on the advice of a Liquidator, who in fact was assisting the Police investigation. The Crown were forced to abandon this aspect of the case and H went on to be acquitted of all other charges.

R v S & Ors – Portsmouth CC – 2017

Nick defended one of four defendants alleged to have laundered the proceeds of a cybercrime. By hacking into internal networks, the fraudsters posed as high value suppliers to businesses. These businesses were tricked into paying large sums into the defendant’s accounts. Through examining metadata and IP addresses linked to whatsapp messages and emails, Nick was able to show that S was an innocent dupe of sophisticated criminals. S was acquitted.

R v M & Ors – Cambridge CC – 2017

Nick defended M, the first defendant in this sophisticated courier fraud. The gang targeted the elderly and, pretending to be Police Officers, convinced them to withdraw and hand over large amounts of cash to associates who would pose as couriers. The trial centred on complex evidence from cell site, car trackers and Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

R v H – Sheffield CC – 2016

Nick was led by Andrew Trollope QC in this complex fraud case concerning allegations of fraudulent trading and theft against a company director.  The case gave rise to several complex legal issues including the true ownership of company assets, the position of creditors and whether a company director can steal land from that company.  Following a four-week trial, H was acquitted of the main allegations.

R v U – Southwark CC – 2016

U was alleged to have organised numerous fraudulent car insurances by providing false information.  He was charged with a conspiracy to defraud along with three others.  This was a voluminous case involving thousands of pages of telephone and computer evidence.  On the first day of trial all co-defendants pleaded guilty.  Nick obtained disclosure of the full files from the insurance company and, following extensive cross-examination of the witness from this company, successfully argued that there was no case to answer.

R v M (2014) – Central Criminal Court

A £37m money-laundering trial at the Old Bailey in which the Crown was forced to offer no evidence once the defence had exposed a wide range of failings in the investigation. This was a factually complex case involving thousands of pages of financial documents. In her judgment HHJ Wendy Joseph QC labelled the NCA incompetent. On behalf of Mohaideen it had been submitted that the Indictment was wrongly cast and that the Crown’s figures were inaccurate. The subsequent investigations led to the end of the case. Nick was led junior.

Press reports here and here

R v L (2013) – Cambridge Crown Court

Junior alone defending in Operation Magpie, believed to be the largest ever Trading Standards rogue trading prosecution. In total 17 defendants were charged. Nick represented the wife of the main defendant. The defendant was convicted following a re-trial, the jury having failed to reach a verdict at the first trial. An application to stay the case as an abuse of process due to adverse publicity was made when newspapers published prejudicial details prior to the re-trial.

R v M (2012) – Liverpool Crown Court

This was a five-handed insurance fraud involving loss assessors and landlords. Nick represented the only defendant to be acquitted by the jury. The case concerned a variety of fraudulent misrepresentations designed to avoid claims being caught by certain exclusion clauses. The case involved challenging expert evidence from insurance investigators, loss adjusters and mechanical engineers.

R v B (2011) – Southwark Crown Court

Junior alone in a 12 week multi-handed diversion fraud concerning the evasion of £10m of VAT due on imported counterfeit cigarettes. Nick represented the defendant who organised the transport of the cigarettes in the UK. The conspirators were said to have links to the mafia. Evidence included covert recordings, surveillance and cell site. The head of the conspiracy was given the maximum sentence due to the size and value of the fraud.

R v D (2009) – Northampton Crown Court

Led by Junior defending the first Defendant in this 6 handed 17 Count trial primarily concerning a £500k fraud on Northamptonshire County Council as well as money laundering and tax evasion allegations. The Defendant was acquitted of all counts at the conclusion of the Crown’s case following 9 weeks of evidence

R v K (2006) – St Albans Crown Court

Led Junior representing the main defendant in a large scale mortgage fraud. The evidence included many hours of covert recordings.

R v B (2005) – Maidstone Crown Court

Led Junior representing the main defendant in a multi-million pound cigarette smuggling conspiracy

 

Serious crime

Nick has defended in the full range of the most serious, complex and sensitive criminal cases across the country and is regularly instructed as leading junior. He is considered an expert in RIPA and telephone evidence, including cell site.

In the last two years, he has successfully defended in cases involving modern slavery, drugs, firearms and homicide.

Notable cases

R v E & Ors – Central Criminal Court – 2017

Three-handed murder trial following a knife fight between four men which was captured on film and witnessed by numerous members of the public. Alleged to have been a deliberate and planned attack on the deceased, the Jury acquitted of murder despite the defendant not giving evidence. E and another were convicted of manslaughter.

R v R & Ors – Nottingham CC – 2017

Operation Pottery was the largest Modern Slavery case to be prosecuted in the UK. Victims were collected from homeless shelters and soup kitchens, kept in dilapidated caravans and forced to work for as little as £10 per day. Many of them remained with R for years. Nick defended R in the second of two Forced Compulsory Labour trials.

R v S & Ors. – Birmingham CC –  2016

This 6-handed trial was part of a nationwide investigation into an organised crime gang who were posting parcels of Class B drugs from China to dozens of addresses in the UK.    Nick represented the man alleged to be the contact for the London side of the conspiracy. The evidence was wide-ranging and included covert recordings and surveillance.  S gave a no comment interview, did not give evidence and was acquitted by the jury following an 8-week trial.

R v T – Southwark CC – 2016

Nick defended T who was found in possession of two loaded pistols, 16 kilos of Cocaine, 47 kilos of Ketamine and 124 kilos of Cannabis.  Applications for full disclosure were made including for the intelligence which led the police to T address. Based on this Information the Crown agreed to accept a basis of plea which significantly minimised his involvement.

 R v B – Snaresbrook CC – 2015

A four-week gang-related stabbing involving five defendants at Snaresbrook Crown Court.  The defendants were alleged to be from the Kingshold Boys gang and the victim from the London Fields gang.  There is a history of violence between them including murder. The Crown sought to adduce this evidence but this was successfully resisted.  The incident was caught on CCTV and was initially treated as attempted murder.  B was acquitted of s18 and convicted of s20.  This year the Court of Appeal granted leave to appeal the conviction on a joint-enterprise point.

R v C – Southampton CC – 2015

A three-week conspiracy to supply class A drugs at Southampton Crown Court.  The evidence consisted of covert surveillance, recordings and photographs of several drugs houses in the area. C was said to be part of a London gang looking to control the local market.  The evidence placed him at each of the drugs houses as well as in a hotel room where drugs and money were seized.  C was acquitted by the jury.

R v G (2014) – Bristol Crown Court

Nick acts as Leading Junior in this high profile conspiracy to produce class A drugs in Bristol. This Organised Crime Group is alleged to have planned an industrial sized chemical lab to produce Crystal Meth and MDMA. The Crown relies on covert audio recordings, evidence which is the subject to challenge under RIPA. Following the late disclosure of hundreds of hours of recordings during the trial Mr Justice Grigson discharged the Jury and the case will be re-tried in 2015. There will be Abuse of Process arguments.

Press reports here and here

R v M (2014) – Central Criminal Court

A £37m money-laundering trial at the Old Bailey in which the Crown was forced to offer no evidence once the defence had exposed a wide range of failings in the investigation. This was a factually complex case involving thousands of pages of financial documents. In her judgment HHJ Wendy Joseph QC labelled the NCA incompetent. On behalf of Mohaideen it had been submitted that the Indictment was wrongly cast and that the Crown’s figures were inaccurate. The subsequent investigations led to the end of the case. Nick was led junior.

Press reports here and here

R v N (2014) – Southwark Crown Court

Operation Akan targeted an Organised Crime Group based in Essex and Central London alleged to be supplying drugs and laundering money. In all 18 people were charged. Nick represented a defendant charged with laundering £500k of drugs money through his business in London as junior alone. This was a 7 handed trial which lasted 4 weeks at Southwark CC. The defence involved challenge to expert fingerprint evidence and complex points of law relating to the point at which monies become the proceeds of crime.

R v P (2013) – Stafford Crown Court

Led Junior in a 12 week Conspiracy to Cause Explosions arising out of a series of nail bombs detonated in the Staffordshire area. The defendants included men with links to terrorist groups in Northern Ireland. Nick was junior counsel for the man who drove the bomber to the sites and then assisted him to escape to Belfast. The evidence included covertly recorded conversations from bugged prison visits

R v B (2013) – Liverpool Crown Court

Leading Junior in this 10 week firearms conspiracy involving a Liverpool gang feud. Nick represented the girlfriend of the head of a gang called the Croxteth Young Guns who was said to have helped organise retaliation shootings for her partner. She was the only defendant charged with conspiracy to be acquitted.

R v R (2012) – Liverpool Crown Court

Led Junior in this 12 week high profile murder case. The case concerned the execution of a doorman in Liverpool, who was shot in the face at point blank range with a shotgun. Nick acted for a man who drove the gunman to the scene but denied knowing what was planned. Following a cut throat defence, he was acquitted of murder and convicted of perverting the course of justice having lied to the police during the investigation. The police deployed a covert recording in this case although the evidence was never adduced.

R v G (2011) – Central Criminal Court 

Led Junior defending one of two men accused of a gang related execution on the Broadwater Farm Estate in May 2010. Both defendants were acquitted by the Jury following a 3 week trial involving anonymous witnesses and cell-site expert evidence

R v M (2010) – Snaresbrook Crown Court

Junior alone in a case concerning two counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and dangerous driving. The defendant was alleged to have pointed a gun in a man’s face and pulled the trigger. When the gun failed the defendant got in his car and drove away, hitting the man as he did so. Opposing experts were called on the issue of whether this was a deliberate act or simply an accident as he tried to get away. The defendant was acquitted of all counts.

R v W (2010) – Winchester Crown Court

Led Junior Counsel in a substantial Cocaine Importation re-trial. When the re-trial began the Crown sought to have the abuse of process arguments conducted by Special Counsel. This was unprecedented and resisted by the defence. Ultimately the Crown was forced to offer no evidence. The central argument on appeal and at the outset of the re-trial concerned the lawfulness of telephone intercepts.

R v C (2009) – Norwich Crown Court

Led by Sir Desmond De Silva defending a man alleged to be responsible for organising a shooting as a punishment for a drugs debt. The defendant was acquitted of any involvement with the shooting. The Defendant was convicted of other less serious offences following a 10 week trial.

R v G (2009) – Central Criminal Court

Defending an Armed Robbery case concerning an 18 year old Defendant who was acting under Duress. The Defendant was acquitted of both robberies.

R v O’G (2008) – Luton Crown Court

Led junior in a two-handed cut throat Murder case following a fatal stabbing. The Defendant was acquitted of Murder, assisting an offender and affray.

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