Richard Thomas

Year of Call

Richard Thomas

Richard is a criminal justice specialist and has been instructed in many of the high profile trials and appeals in recent years. He has a substantial trial practice but is a versatile advocate and in 2014-15 has received instructions in cases relating to criminal justice brought in the Crown Court, the Court of Appeal – civil and criminal divisions, the Supreme Court, Privy Council, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Administrative, Queen’s Bench and Chancery Divisions of the High Court.


He is highly ranked in Chambers and Partners 2016 who note that “he handles a range of matters including sensitive terrorism trials, and war crimes, murder and serious fraud cases.” That publication records that opposition counsel stated "He is a very bright advocate who knows the law inside out. You have to be on your toes when against him as he is a daunting prospect for any advocate” and solicitors appreciated his “effective advocacy style and collaborative approach” and found "he is very easy to work with, extremely bright, extremely talented, down-to-earth and a good team player".

National Security and Terrorism

Richard is instructed in terrorism trials and related extradition, financial and SIAC proceedings. Cases in 2013-5 include:

  • R v Gildo (Central Criminal Court, 2015): The defendant was a Swedish national who was transiting through Heathrow en route to the Philippine’s. He volunteered in a Schedule 7 interview that he had travelled to Syria, and then returned to Syria with the full knowledge of the Swedish authorities. Along with the UK, Sweden is a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism but operates a policy of rehabilitation rather than prosecution. It was argued on his behalf that prosecuting in the UK these circumstances amounted to an abuse of process and that, in addition, when he was in Syria in 2012, the UK security services were involved in the supply of arms to the rebels fighting President Assad and that it would be unconscionable to prosecute in circumstances where the government was encouraging and facilitating the very activity in which the defendant was involved. The defence relied on reports of investigative journalists and pressed for disclosure from the security services as to the veracity of those reports. The Recorder of London was not required to rule as the prosecution, having requested a further adjournment and having consulted with the Attorney General, then offered no evidence. 
  • R v R, B, K (Central Criminal Court, 2015, ongoing): Allegation of preparing for an act of terrorism relating to the conflict in Syria.
  • R v Shafiq (Central Criminal Court, 2015): ”Jihadi bride” case in which the allegation of assisting in the preparation of a terrorist act arose solely from internet communication.
  • R v Incedal (Central Criminal Court, 2015): The trial was held under unprecedented levels of security and secrecy on the grounds of national security. The trial was originally ordered to be held entirely behind closed doors but, amidst widespread criticism across the political spectrum, the Court of Appeal varied the order slightly to allow accredited journalists to be present for small parts of the case.
  • R v Tahari (Central Criminal Court, 2014, ongoing): This case, linked to that of Moazzam Begg, related to allegations of terrorist funding. Eventually, the cases against all three defendants were dropped.
  • Troitino v Spain (Westminster Magistrates Court, 2014, ongoing): Attempt by Spain to extradite former ETA prisoner who had fled the impact of the ‘Parot doctrine’. 
  • SSHD v Z (SIAC, 2014)
  • R v Islam (Kingston Crown Court, 2013) Prosecution for terrorist offences arising from the capture of two journalists (including John Cantlie) in Syria who were shot as they tried to escape and treated by one of the defendants, an NHS doctor.
  • R v A and others (Central Criminal Court and Court of Appeal, 2013): Prosecution for terrorist offences arising from plan to bomb an EDL march in Dewsbury.
  • A v Police (2013): Cash forfeiture proceedings against a person convicted of a terrorist offence. 

Homicide and Related Grave Offences

Richard has extensive experience of murder cases, both at trial and on appeal. Instructions in 2014-5 include:

  • R v Sardar (Central Criminal Court, 2015) Defendant charged with murder and conspiracy to murder relating to the death of an American soldier in Iraq during the Second Gulf War in 2007. Complex proceedings involving a FBI investigation based primarily on a forensic examination of remnants of exploded IEDs. First known use of universal jurisdiction to prosecute for conspiracy to murder.  
  • Khan and Hunte v The State (2015 UKPC 33) Appellants convicted of murder in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and sentenced to death. Seven Judge Board of the Privy Council convened to re-opening the decision of the Board in Ramdeen.
  • Patrick Lovelace v The State (Privy Council, 2015) Appeal against the sentence of death imposed for murder in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • R v Abdul Hannan (Canterbury Crown Court, 2014): Defendant charged with murder of a woman whose body was found under the floorboards in a shop.
  • R v Bruce Childs (Court of Appeal [2014] EWCA Crim 1884): Appellant pleaded guilty in 1980 to 6 murders and gave Queen’s Evidence against his co-defendants. The appeal was described by the QC instructed by the Crown as “the most complex forensic case in modern criminal history”. The appeal was based on the impact of the appellant’s personality disorder on his plea. The appendices to one of the four expert reports ran to 49 Lever Arch files.
  • R v Jewell (Court of Appeal [2014] EWCA Crim 414): Appeal against murder conviction. Challenge to role of the trial judge in removing the defence of loss of control.
  • R v M (2014) Instructed to advise on application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission following conviction of a youth for murder on a joint enterprise basis.

Regulatory and Financial Crime

Richard has been instructed in substantial fraud and money laundering trials and related confiscation proceedings. In addition, he has experience of the interconnected civil proceedings relating to asset forfeiture and the proceeds of crime and has been instructed in this regard in cases in the Administrative Court, the Chancery Division and the Court of Appeal Civil Division. He has been instructed in numerous applications for certificates of inadequacy, in management and enforcement receiver proceedings in the High Court and regularly appears for respondents in civil cash forfeiture applications made by the Metropolitan Police and Revenue and Customs. He is currently instructed in an application to the European Court of Human Rights arising from a recent Supreme Court decision on confiscation orders. Richard is co-author of the Blackstone's Guide to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (OUP 2015). Recent instructions include:

  • R v Gohil (Southwark Crown Court): Solicitor facing multi-million pound confiscation proceedings following his conviction, along with a former governor of the Delta province in Nigeria, James Ibori, of involvement in corruption. 
  • R v X (Reading Crown Court): Operations manager facing fraud allegations arising out of the delivery of large government welfare to work contract (A4E).
  • R v Bharion (Leicester Crown Court): £100 million + loss to Virgin Media arising from international fraud to decrypt transmission of digital television.

Richard has a wide experience of regulatory work, defending both companies and individual directors: In recent years, this work has included instructions for the defence in prosecutions brought by many of the regulatory authorities. Richard also represents professionals facing charges from their own regulatory bodies - from teachers to boxing trainers – and has represented both solicitors and barristers facing criminal charges.

  • R v Friend and others (Croydon Crown Court) Defending prosecution brought by DEFRA relating to the sales of unauthorised veterinary medicines. The allegation involved multi-million pound trading in India, Russia and Europe.
  • R v Guney (Guildford Crown Court) Defending director of cemetery prosecuted by the Environment Agency for alleged breaches of EC Waste Directive.
  • R v E (Oxford Crown Court) Defending director in Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform prosecution arising out of irregularities in winding up proceedings before the High Court.
  • R v A Ltd Advising company in local authority prosecution arising out of breaches of EC food storage regulations.
  • R v P (Reading Crown Court) Defending company in Health and Safety Executive prosecution following two deaths on a farm.
  • R v X Ltd. HMRC prosecution for breaches of VAT regulations.
  • R v X (Southwark Crown Court) Defending solicitor facing charges of fraud.

Other Serious Criminal Offences

As a trial advocate, Richard has been instructed in cases of attempted murder and other allegations of serious violence, the importation of Class A drugs, and rape and other sexual offences. He is a contributing author to Human Rights in the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime (OUP, 2009). Instructions include:

  • R v Doyle and others (ongoing) The defendant is charged with conspiracy to burgle and money laundering offences arising from the raid on the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company which is widely report as the largest haul in criminal history.
  • R v Williams The defendant was released from prison having served 27 years of a life sentence for manslaughter and then soon after attacked a neighbour stabbing him repeatedly. This case of attempted murder involved complex psychiatric evidence (which was obtained following a successful judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency’s refusal to pay the hourly rate charged by the leading expert instructed by the defence).
  • Jahmel Blakeney v The State Application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal of Bermuda against convictions for attempted murder. Issues arising as to admissibility of “gang” expert evidence and the accuracy of expert evidence of low copy-number DNA and gun-shot residue (GSR).
  • R v X Rape allegation in which the Crown attempted to proceed both on the basis that the complainant was too intoxicated to consent or that she was able to consent but did not do so.
  • R v Collins and 8 others Multiple shootings by organised gang at the police on the ground and the police helicopter during the Birmingham riots. This was the most serious case arising from the nationwide disorder of summer 2011 and the only case to be charged as riot. Seven week trial in front of the Recorder of Birmingham.
  • R v Flinders Significant importation and distribution of Class A drugs throughout the Midlands and North of England. Two month trial involving a significant challenge to the use of probe evidence. 
  • The ‘Ratcliffe Power Station’ protest (Nottingham Crown Court) Crown offer no evidence following abuse of process application arising out of evidence emerging that Mark Stone/Kennedy had been operating as an undercover police officer. Numerous public inquiries and investigations followed.
  • R v X Attempted Murder involving a stabbing to the heart.
  • R v LB and 10 others: Domestic and international car ringing conspiracy.
  • R v YB Defendant with mental health problems charged with rape.

Criminal Appeals

Richard's has a substantial practice appellate practice and has been involved in many appeals against conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal and well as the House of Lords, Privy Council and European Court of Human Rights. Reported judgments have described his appellate advocacy as “a model of an appeal before these courts” (Fulford LJ, Wang) and “a model of clarity” (Carr J, Kelly).  He also has significant experience of applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. He is regularly instructed at the appellate stage and reported cases in which he has been involved have addressed issues including constitutional arguments, abuse of process, Article 6 ECHR and reverse burdens, the incorporation of international human rights instruments and sentencing guidelines. He is a contributing author to the second edition of Taylor on Appeals (OUP, 2012). Cases in which he has been instructed include:

  • R v Lewis (Court of Appeal [2015] 1 Cr App R (S) 38 [2015] Crim LR 235) Challenge to the use of consecutive sentences to circumvent the statutory maximum sentence for firearms offences.
  • Shazad Khan v The State (Privy Council, 2015, judgment awaited) Appellants convicted of murder in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and sentenced to death. Seven judge Board convened to address Respondent’s attempts to re-open the decision of the Board in Ramdeen.
  • R v Davis and others (Court of Appeal [2014] 2 Cr App R (S) 11) Sentencing guidance on drugs offences.
  • R v Bruce Childs (Court of Appeal [2014] EWCA Crim 1884): Appellant pleaded guilty in 1980 to 6 murders and gave Queen’s Evidence against his co-defendants. The appeal was described by the QC instructed by the Crown as “the most complex forensic case in modern criminal history”. The appeal was based on the impact of the appellant’s personality disorder on his plea. The appendices to one of the four expert reports ran to 49 Lever Arch files.
  • R v Chukwu (Court of Appeal [2014] EWCA Crim 1405) Conviction of a soldier following his guilty plea overturned on the basis that advice given to him by his previous legal representatives was inadequate.
  • R v Jewell (Court of Appeal [2014] EWCA Crim 414): Judge’s role in removing defence of loss of control.
  • R v Mateta and others [Court of Appeal [2014] 1 WLR 1516; [2013] 2 Cr. App. R. 35;  [2014] Crim.L.R.227: (Court of Appeal) Special Court convened to give guidance on appeals arising from a failure to advise on the statutory defence in section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • R v Jewell Uddin and others (Court of Appeal, 2014) Appeal against lengthy EDS imposed for terrorist offences.
  • Jahmel Blakeney v The State (Privy Council, 2014) Application for leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal of Bermuda against convictions for attempted murder
  • R v LZ (Court of Appeal [2012] EWCA Crim 1867) Conviction of victim of trafficking quashed despite initial guilty plea.
  • R v T (Footwear Evidence) (Court of Appeal [2011] 1 Cr App R 9): Murder conviction quashed following challenge to use of Bayesian analysis by forensic scientists.
  • Tillett v The Queen (Privy Council [2011] UKPC 21: Appeal against murder conviction from Court of Appeal of Belize.
  • R v Rahma Mohamed (2011) 1 Cr App R 35 (Court of Appeal) Refugee's conviction overturned (despite guilty pleas) following erroneous advice as to the statutory defence.
  • R v Marangawanda [2009] EWCA Crim 60 (Court of Appeal) Appeal against convictions imposed for s.20 GBH based on reckless transmission of disease.
  • R v Asfaw (UNHCR intervening) (2008) 1 AC 1061 (House of Lords) Constitutional argument on extent to which defendants can rely on unincorporated human rights treaties.
  • R v Anthony Willis (2007, Court of Appeal, judgment withheld) Murder conviction quashed.
  • R v Kirton [2007] EWCA Crim 1908 (Court of Appeal) Life sentence imposed on grounds of dangerousness quashed.
  • R v (1) Weng (Da Hua) and (2) Wang (Guo Xing) [2006] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 97 (Court of Appeal) Chelmsford Crown Court criticised for approach taken in sentencing foreign nationals.
  • R v Asfaw [2006] Crim. L. R. 906 (Court of Appeal) Lord Chief Justice rules on extent to which defendants can rely directly on rights afforded under international human rights treaties. Abuse of process arising out of CPS policy.
  • R v Wang (Bei Bei) [2005] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 79 (Court of Appeal) First sentencing case under new "no document" legislation. Sentence significantly reduced and recommendation for deportation overturned.
  • R v Embaye (Senait Tekie) and Navabi (Fraydon)The Times, December 5th 2005, [2005] EWCA Crim 2865) Compatibility of the reverse burden with Article 6 ECHR, statutory interpretation, the principle of legality and incorporation of international human rights instruments.

Prison Law and Crime Related Public Law

Richard advises and appears in challenges by way of judicial review or case stated to decisions made relating to criminal justice. He is also currently involved in a number of innovative private law claims in which clients are seeking damages arising from misfeasance in public offence and wrongful prosecutions. In SXH v CPS the Court of Appeal Civil Division recognised for the first time that Article 8 ECHR may give rise to a cause of action for damages as a result of a wrongful prosecution. The Supreme Court has recently granted leave to appeal. 

Cases include:

  • Aslam v Sheffield Magistrates Court: Permission granted to JR the decision to proceed to enforcement of a confiscation order when there was an outstanding application to the CCRC relating to the original confiscation order (ongoing).
  • BID v CPS & Home Office: JR of the guidance issued as to the approach to the public interest test in cases involving refugees. Both defendants agreed to withdraw the guidance and re-issue.
  • SXH v CPS [2014] EWCA Civ 90: A private law claim seeking damages under Article 8 ECHR relating to a decision to prosecute. (Case on appeal to the Supreme Court).
  • A v CPS: Instructed by complainant to advise on challenge to CPS refusal to prosecute the alleged perpetrator.
  • Reeves v CCRC: JR of the CCRC for refusal to investigate retraction statements made by child complainants post-conviction.
  • Bauer and others v DPP (Liberty intervening) [2013] 1 WLR 1617: Appeal arising from the conviction of UKUncut protestors in Fortnum and Mason. Case addressed special relationship between Articles 10 and 11 ECHR and joint enterprise.
  • X v CPS: Instructed to advise on challenge to Ministry of Justice’s refusal to award compensation to a man wrongly convicted.
  • R (on the application of Guney) v Central Criminal Court (LSC intervening): Judicial review of the decision to award costs against a defendant acquitted of conspiracy to murder (led junior).
  • R v M: Instructed to advise on a judicial review of the decision of the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refuse to refer the conviction of a 15 year old despite the post-conviction confession of his co-defendant to prison officers (junior alone).
  • R (HN) v Director of Public Prosecutions: Judicial review of CPS decision to prosecute a trafficked minor (junior alone).
  • DPP v Inegbu [2008] EWHC 3242 (Admin) Case stated addressing lacuna in new prosecution regime (junior alone).
  • In the matter of R (2008) CJA/108/2007 High Court bail jurisdiction (junior alone).
  • Soe Thet v DPP (2007) 2 All ER 425, [2007] INLR 71, The Times, November 1st 2006 The Lord Chief Justice's ruling emasculated the prosecutions regime introduced in section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004 (junior alone)
  • R v M [2007] EWHC 1032 (Admin) Term of ASBO quashed (junior alone)

Courts Martial

Richard appears for military personnel charged with criminal offences both in the UK and when serving abroad, particularly Germany. He has experience of cases involving offences committed shortly after returning from operational service and issues surrounding whether the army have properly managed that return and the impact that tours in Afghanistan and Iraq had on the offending behaviour. He has been instructed to defend Army and RAF personnel charged with violent and sexual offences as well as the military offences of AWOL and desertion.

International Crime

Richard has been instructed in cases in, and appeals to the Privy Council from, Greneda, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and appeared in the final criminal appeal to the Privy Council from Belize. He has wide experience of working collaboratively with local lawyers and has a significant advisory practice in those jurisdictions. He also represented a UK citizen who had been incarcerated in Laos for six years and negotiated, through the FCO, his transfer to the UK. 


Richard advises national newspapers and broadcasters in relation to potential criminal liability arising from both the process of the investigation and the publication or broadcast. His experience as a criminal practitioner in high profile criminal trials attracting significant media interest allows him to give practical and robust advice. Richard was instructed in both the Crown Court and Court of Appeal proceedings in the ongoing terrorist case in which the judge uniquely ordered the trial to be held entirely in camera (Guardian News and Media Ltd and others and AB and CD) and has a good knowledge of the law relating to reporting restrictions and the open justice principles.

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