Harriet Johnson


Year of Call

Harriet Johnson

Having trained as a specialist criminal barrister, Harriet’s practice has expanded to include related areas of civil and human rights law. She is qualified to undertake direct access work meaning that, in appropriate cases, members of the public can instruct her without the need for a solicitor.


Harriet is valued by instructing solicitors for her precise and detailed case preparation as well as her legal and tactical insight. However, it is her skilled and compelling advocacy that most commonly attracts both client and judicial praise.


Harriet is a powerful speaker and has been invited to deliver keynote addresses at conferences all over the world.  She is a fierce advocate of women’s rights, and founded Doughty Street’s #DoughtyStWomen events; an annual series of conferences for lawyers, charities, academics and activists that focuses on what more the law can do for women.  Harriet is a trustee of the charity Women In Prison.


Harriet practices in all area of criminal law.  Acting as junior alone, she has developed a specialism in the handling of vulnerable witnesses, and particularly in the art of conducting effective cross-examination under the new guidelines.  She has conducted a number of trials at court centres piloting the s. 28 scheme for pre-recorded cross-examination of witnesses, which makes her a valued asset for solicitors navigating the procedures for the first time as the scheme is rolled out nationally.

As a led junior Harriet has experience in the most serious and complex cases, including murder and multi-handed drugs and fraud conspiracies.  She is valued in particular for her incredibly detailed approach to evidence, as well as for her easy manner with difficult clients.

Harriet’s recent instructions include:

  • R v KI - Acting as junior alone in defence of a man charged with three counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice.  The complainant was 17 at the time that the allegations were first made, but was deemed by experts to have the mental capacity of a toddler.  The case involved careful cross-examination, with extremely limited questioning, of the complainant, as well as detailed analysis of expert reports concerning DNA evidence.
  • R v SO - Defence of a mother charged with two counts of child cruelty and three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.  The complainants in respect of all charges were the Defendant’s children, ranging from 6 to 15 years in age.  Harriet’s careful cross-examination earned praise from the Judge for the sensitive yet effective way in which it was conducted.
  • R v IO - Acting for one of four defendants charged with two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.  All defendants and complainants were polish nationals.  The case also featured over a dozen eye-witnesses as well as relying heavily on blood-spatter experts.

Actions Against the Police

Harriet has developed a specialist practice in private law actions against public authorities.  Her background as a criminal practitioner means she has a particular expertise in claims arising out of the misuse of police search and seizure powers.  She is regularly instructed in actions against the police, in particular in claims of false imprisonment, assault, misfeasance, malicious prosecution, negligence, and breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.  


Harriet has experience of representing requested persons in extradition cases under Part 1 and part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003.  Her expertise in criminal law means she is well placed to advise on issues of dual criminality and the repatriation of prisoners facing custodial sentences.


BA (Hons) Philosophy and Political Science, Trinity College, University of Dublin

LLB (Hons) BPP Law School

Bar Vocational Course, College of Law

South-Eastern Circuit Florida Criminal Advocacy Scholarship



Bar Human Rights Committee

Young Legal Aid Lawyers

Young Fraud Lawyers Association

Association of Women Barristers

Criminal Bar Association





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