Nicola Shannon KC

Call: 1997 / Silk: 2023

Download vCard
‘Nicola is a hard-working advocate who clearly knows the brief backwards.’ (Legal 500, 2023)

Appointed King’s Counsel in March 2023, Nicola Shannon KC led successful leading Junior practice in crime, both prosecuting and defending.

Her practice is focused on serious and complex crime, with an emphasis on organized crime, fraud, modern slavery and serious sexual offences.  Many of her cases involve intelligence-led investigations and international mutual legal assistance.

She has regularly undertaken leading briefs for the last decade and is often selected to deal with novel and challenging areas of law.

She often appears against Silks and her cases frequently attract significant media attention (see media links below).

Nicola Shannon KC has experience in criminal courts at all levels, including the House of Lords/ Supreme Court, where she was junior counsel in R v Saik (2006) UKHL 18, a leading case on the mental element in offences of money-laundering.  She continues to deal with complex matters at appellate level on her own.

She advises the CPS and police investigators at an early stage in Organised Crime and Serious Sexual Cases, often involving sensitive political or cultural issues.

She often deals with cases involving vulnerable witnesses and defendants, especially those involving particularly complex issues of expert evidence or requiring creative use of special measures and expert assistance to support effective presentation of the case.

In 2019 she led the prosecution team in a rare prosecution of social media-based Child Sexual Exploitation within the Orthodox Jewish communities in London and Manchester.  In 2020, she again led for the prosecution in a difficult Child Sexual Exploitation case brought to charge under the Victim’s Right to Review by the mother of a young woman with Down’s Syndrome and severe learning difficulties who had been raped by a play worker at the specialist centre she attended.  On this occasion Nicola brought in communication specialists and expert evidence on speech and language as well as psychiatric and psychological expert evidence in order to secure a conviction for sexual activity with a person lacking capacity to consent.

Serious and Organised Crime

Op.Kelvin/ R v P and other (2016 – 17, Inner London CC):

In 2016 – 2017, Nicola was leading counsel for the Crown in two trials prosecuting the leaders of the most significant drugs supply lines in Sussex for offences arising out of a strategic firearms incident involving the false imprisonment, robbery and torture of two young Kurdish men over a period of 6 hours (Op. Kelvin). Complex telephone cell-site, DNA and identification evidence was deployed to secure the conviction of all five defendants. Evidence was secured from abroad via cooperation with the local Liaison Magistrate and International Letters of Request. Sentences imposed ranged from 10 to 22 years. Nicola subsequently responded in the Court of Appeal which upheld both convictions and sentence. (Abdullah and another R (2019) EWCA Crim 1137).

Mews stories here, here and here

R v S and others:

In 2018 Nicola was instructed in the only prosecution of an organised crime group for the sale of ‘Spice’ in prison, in a Conspiracy straddling the coming into force of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Convictions were secured in relation to the taking of prohibited items into Lewes Prison for the purpose of the dealing, and the consequent possession of criminal property. Both followed extensive legal argument in relation to the scientific validity for the Home Office guidance on the testing of psychoactive substances and parliamentary intention in the passing of the Act. Disclosure included Committee-stage Home Office correspondence and memos. Nicola also dealt with the allied POCA proceedings. (R v S and others)

News story here, here and here

R v DL (Lewes C C, 2019):

Another case related to the supply of drugs immediately prior to the death of a celebrity victim who fell out of a window at a party in Brighton having ingested class A drugs. The criminal prosecution of a high-profile defendant followed on from an Inquest in the Coroner’s Court. Following guilty pleas to Possession with Intent to Supply the drugs found at the flat, the sentence imposed was successfully appealed as being unduly lenient. (R v DL) The investigation was the subject of an ITV documentary ‘The Death of Aimee Spencer’ presented by Katie Piper.

News stories here, here and here

Nicola also regularly undertakes gang-related work and firearms cases. She recently represented a young man facing firearms offences after his DNA was found on a loaded gun. Nicola secured his acquittal after successfully challenging the validity of the expert evidence on cell-site and telephone/video evidence and sympathetically presenting possibilities for secondary transfer.

Nicola is currently instructed, leading Kemi Fapohunda, to prosecute an Albanian organised crime group in relation to commercial people smuggling and money laundering of the proceeds (Op. Correspond, Snaresbrook C C, trial Sept. 2022)


Nicola has extensive experience as Leading counsel in complex and high-value fraud. She is on the SFO ‘A’ Panel and cases often involve international tracing and the calling of witnesses from abroad as well as ‘insider’ and ‘QE’ witnesses.
Early in her career she was Junior counsel in the House of Lords, in the case of R v Saik, (2006) UKHL 18, which remains the leading case on mens rea in money laundering cases.

R v H and others (Op.s Synthetic and Viracocha) (2013)

She was Leading counsel for the Defence in a multi-million pound money laundering/ drugs importation case prosecuted at Maidstone Crown Court by the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The trial culminated in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings in which the prosecution sought confiscation orders valued at £138Million.

Op. Mitchum:

Nicola has also defended in a sophisticated immigration fraud involving Sikh ‘Minister of Religion’ visas provided by a bogus charity bringing in workers for Sikh temples from Sri Lanka under a new scheme conferring ‘A’ – rated Sponsor status. The indictment alleged frauds against both the Home Office and the Charity Commission. Nicola’s client was acquitted following submissions at the close of the Prosecution case.

As leading counsel she has also prosecuted a number of high value benefit frauds for local authorities, including one involving a gender-reassigned identity fraudster :
R v MJ, Harrow C C

And an extended family occupying a series of jointly-owned properties:
R v PP and others, Harrow C C

Modern Slavery

As defence counsel, Nicola is often instructed in ‘s45 defence’ cases involving expert evidence re. trafficking and exploitation.
She has a depth of experience in this area, having been one of the first barristers to develop defence expertise when instructed to represent Irish Travellers charged with offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour under s71 Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (the forerunner to the Modern Slavery Act 2015), appearing in each of the first series of trials under the Act.

Nicola was Leading Defence counsel in the first trial under this new legislation at Luton Crown Court in Summer 2012.

Nicola then went on to appear as led Junior counsel in a similar case at Bristol Crown Court beginning in September 2012.

In the former her client was the only defendant acquitted and in the latter her client was acquitted of Conspiracy to Hold Another in Servitude and his sentence following conviction for the lesser charge of Forced Labour was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General as being ‘unduly lenient’ (A.G.’s Ref. No.4 of 2013). Nicola successfully defended it before the full court.

Subsequent to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Nicola regularly deals with defences under s45 and recently secured an acquittal for her client in a substantial county lines drugs case at Leeds CC (R v AA).
She has also prosecuted cases involving international trafficking, including one case in which a teenager was lured to fake employment abroad by a UK nightclub owner who subsequently offered to pay for her sexual services. She secured convictions, and was successful in the Court of Appeal, despite an attempt by the defendant to forge expert evidence in an attempt to pervert the course of justice : R v McG (Lewes CC (2017 – 18), CACD, 2019)


Nicola has been appointed to the Counter-Terrorism specialist panel at Grade 4 (the highest non- Silk grading).

She has previously been led in a terrorism case in which detailed submissions were made as to the various meanings of ‘jihad’ in Islamic teaching and culture, securing a partial acquittal (R v N)

Serious Sexual Offences

Nicola has been appointed to the Counter-Terrorism specialist panel at Grade 4 (the highest non- Silk grading).

She has previously been led in a terrorism case in which detailed submissions were made as to the various meanings of ‘jihad’ in Islamic teaching and culture, securing a partial acquittal (R v N)

TAB: Serious Sexual Offences:

As a member of the RASSO panel for prosecuting Serious Sexual Offences Nicola has undertaken extensive training in dealing with vulnerable witnesses and has frequently used intermediaries when both prosecuting and defending.

She is authorised to judge such cases when sitting as a Crown Court Recorder and as an advocate often appears against Silks.

R v K:
Nicola represented an international rugby player charged with two ‘strangling’ rapes and assaults. The case attracted significant press attention after it became known that he was a recent student at Princeton University.

R v F:
In December 2020 she was Leading Counsel for the Crown in a case brought consequent to the victim’s right to review, which involved the systematic grooming and sexual exploitation of a very vulnerable young person at a specialist play centre for children with learning difficulties. Previous complaints had been overlooked and Nicola advised on an indictment incorporating charges invoking the protection afforded those without capacity to consent. Complex legal points were argued against a QC for the defence and psychiatric and psychological evidence was adduced to support the prosecution case. She advised on the instruction of a speech and language therapist as an expert witness in addition to assistance at trial from an intermediary. A conviction was secured in this difficult and sensitive case.
Op. Shelduck:
In July 2019 she was Leading Counsel for the Crown in the first prosecution of Child Sexual Exploitation within the Orthodox Jewish communities of London and Manchester. The prosecution involved highly sensitive cultural issues and community sensibilities as well as extremely vulnerable complainants (as young as 12) and a wider international paedophile ring and suicide pact aspect. Witnesses were located both in the UK and abroad, and an attempt to pervert the course of justice by indirect intimidation of witnesses was tried alongside the substantive counts. A trial software system was employed for the first time by the Metropolitan Police to search and review the extraordinarily high volume of electronic material seized. Nicola and her junior were involved in the assessment of the ‘robustness’ of the consequent disclosure product.

As Defence counsel she has often been selected to represent young people charged with the most serious sexual offending, including stranger rape of an adult by a 14 year old with learning difficulties, and Incitement (of children) to sexual activity by an immature young adult with multiple vulnerabilities. In the latter case, following a negotiated plea and the adducing of expert medical and psychological evidence, she secured a suspended sentence for her client.

She was also instructed to represent a client charged with a notorious series of ‘stranger’ sexual assaults and attempted rape of young women committed over a year on the campus of Surrey University and linked by forensic evidence found at the scenes (R v D)

Cases frequently involve a cross-jurisdictional element: sex-trafficking to the UK in one case; luring a teenager abroad with the promise of legitimate employment before attempting to pay for sexual services in another (R v McG).

Nicola regularly prosecutes complex cases involving violence against Women and Girls, in particular where the complainant is especially vulnerable . She recently prosecuted a case in which, having met her online, the defendant subjected a young woman who was registered blind to what was described by the trial judge at sentence as a “night of sexual torture and humiliation” involving non-fatal strangulation and rape. (R v CA, Snaresbrook C C, 2021)

She is currently instructed, leading Margia Mostafa, to Prosecute a campaign of 6 stranger rapes, involving the used of knives and a hammer against young women followed from Camden Town tube station and raped on their doorsteps. (Op. Madryn, Wood Green C C, case ongoing)

She is also instructed, leading Oliver Doherty, to defend a foster carer accused of grooming and committing multiple sexual offences against two of his foster daughters and a third complainant. (R v S, Canterbury C C, case ongoing)

Regulatory Crime

Nicola is also instructed in Regulatory crime, including infringement of Trade Marks (with particular experience in software cases), Environmental Protection Act matters and Licensing.


Nicola also undertakes sensitive cases for CPS Special Casework Unit, including the prosecution of police officers for misconduct in the course of their duties. One such case involved two police officers accused of a series of baton assaults on a member of the public followed by arresting the complainant in an attempt to prevent scrutiny of their conduct.
R v P and W, Hendon MC):

Proceeds of Crime

Experienced in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings and Confiscation following trial.
Nicola undertakes review of Confiscation on private instruction.

  • uk-included-new-silk-2024

Furnival Chambers