Cairns Nelson KC

Call 1987

Photo of Cairns Nelson KC


Cairns is an experienced criminal barrister with substantial expertise in the field of fraud, particularly revenue fraud (direct and indirect tax frauds) including civil actions.

He has appeared in a number of cases involving prosecutions relating to the trade in military goods under the Export and Trade Control legislation and regulations. This is a complex area of law, involving UK statutory provisions, EC directives and UN sanctions. He has appeared in most of the leading complex cases in this field, involving military aircraft parts to Iran, bombs to Sri Lanka, and body armour to Iraq.

Cairns also has wide experience of defending homicide cases.

In the regulatory field, he recently represented the BSB in an appeal concerning the fairness of the Bar disciplinary processes.

Criminal Cases


R v B & Others (Lewes Crown Court) – Manslaughter – travellers accused of killing a farmer

R v DC & Others (Manchester Crown Court) – Murder

R v T & Others (Guildford Crown Court) – Conspiracy to kidnap and firebomb the homes of leading businessmen

R v Aburto-Rojas (Central Criminal Court) – Murder

R v Akhtar & Others (Wood Green Crown Court) – Conspiracy to commit armed robberies

R v MB (Kingston Crown Court) – attempted murder

AG v Curtic Warren – advised Jersey defence lawyers on right to Jury trial

AG v Michel – assisted Jersey defence advocate in trial of lawyer accused of perverting public justice

R v Sarig and Feckleton – Lead prosecution counsel in a case attracting much public interest. Two arms dealers were found guilty of brokering illegal arms deals to a number of destinations including Sri Lanka; an estimated £2m of weapons including bombs and heavy ammunition was traded since 2005

R v Nik & Others – a high profile case concerning alleged shipments of Military aircraft parts to Iran


R v Cooke & Others (Reading Crown Court) – Attempted murder

R v S, H & L (Central Criminal Court) – murder

(B & Others) – Defended in the Dome corruption case at Southwark Crown Court (defendant acquitted), the South Wales lease finance fraud case at Newport Crown Court, (defendant acquitted) an asset stripping fraud in Birmingham (Mills) (defendant convicted)

(R v Sayers) – Prosecuted crime family for tax evasion

(R v K) – Prosecuted lawyer for tax evasion

November 2011 – Represented the Bar Standards Board at an appeal before the Visitors of COIC (Burnett J) defending the disciplinary processes of COIC against a wholesale attack on the system and in particular the payment of expenses to the lay panel members of disciplinary tribunal by the Bar Council

2012 – Advised OFT in relation to consumer protection legislation in both the criminal and civil law contexts; cowboy builders and tickets touts

OFT v Gyre – Appeared for OFT in High Court application for an Enterprise Act enforcement order against Norwegian ticket web sites selling Olympic tickets.

R v Brophy & Others – Dome corruption case; defended a lighting contractor on allegations of making corrupt payments to the Head of Lighting at the Dome

R v P & Others – Allegation of corruption against BT Police employees in the award of contracts- lead counsel for the Crown.

R v R – Defending allegations of insider dealing by FSA; a company director selling shares allegedly with inside knowledge

R v K – City solicitor accused of tax evasion in relation to his off-shore income in Lichtenstein and Switzerland. Appeared for the Revenue. This is the most recent and leading case on the scope of the decision in Saunders,

the admissibility of material obtained by compulsion in Family Ancillary Relief proceedings and alleged admissions made in a “without prejudice” setting

R v S & Others – An Al Capone prosecution of organised crime family in North East of England for tax evasion in relation to their profits from pubs, clubs etc.

AG v M (Jersey case) – Advising defendant lawyer in relation to allegations of perverting the course of justice in respect of the alleged dissipation of assets from a money launderer.

MFC Finance – Led for the SFO in the prosecution of an investment fraud by an IFA. Currently advising the SFO on a mortgage fraud investigation.