Nick Johnson QC

Call 1994
Silk 2016

"He's extremely thorough, has tremendous attention to detail and is extremely talented."

Chambers and Partners 2019
Photo of Nick Johnson QC


Nick began to specialise in criminal fraud cases in about 2001 when he successfully acted for a director in a property fraud case, arguing on an interim appeal that the reverse burden of proof under s.206 of the Insolvency Act was incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. Over the years, he began to act more frequently as leading counsel in some of the largest fraud jury trials in the UK. Many such cases had an international dimension and Nick first became involved in multi-jurisdictional work in 2008, when he was instructed to act for a former VP Finance in relation to an international corporate bribery and corruption case, investigated civilly and criminally in three separate jurisdictions, a case which is still ongoing in Athens. This in turn has led to him being retained by companies and individuals, both advising on preventative measures such as Bribery Act compliance, wider strategic advice in civil fraud, DPAs and civil recovery at a pre-arrest and charge stage, and also acting in UK trials or as part of an expert legal team in other jurisdictions. Such advice, strategy and advocacy from an early stage can make a considerable difference. He has experience of corporate investigations brought by the DOJ in the US and investigations in Europe and the Middle East. He is also retained by specialist fraud prosecuting agencies.

Alongside his fraud specialism, Nick continues to act for individuals charged with serious and organised criminal offences, from murder and firearms cases to serious sexual offences and drugs conspiracies. Since taking silk in 2016, Nick quickly received instructions to lead significant murder trials, including prosecuting a joint enterprise shooting and defending in the murder case involving 7-year-old Katie Rough. He is skilled at appellate work, having appeared twice in the House of Lords and argued successful appeals against conviction in the Court of Appeal.

Key areas of practice include:

Fraud – carousel, pharmaceutical, NHS, boiler room, diversion, long-firm, landfill tax, HMRC, property etc, often with international aspects. Bribery and corporate corruption work. Includes private work in relation to large organisations and senior executives, including cross-jurisdictional work – e.g. US FCPA 1977, UK Bribery Act 2010. Related money laundering, confiscation and civil recovery proceedings. Example cases below.

Other Serious Crime – homicide, including joint enterprise murder, corporate manslaughter, large scale drugs, firearms and other organised crime. Also regulatory crime, serious sexual offences and acting for police and other professionals. Example cases below.

Nick is also experienced in cybercrime, cyber security and the criminal and regulatory aspects of cryptocurrencies.

In addition, Nick has developed his experience in quasi-criminal work:

  • Extradition & Asylum – including re the US, Russian Federation, CIS
  • Police and other professional disciplinary proceedings
  • Public law, judicial review and appellate work
  • Supreme Court proceedings
  • Health and Safety enforcement
  • Inquests – often involving death while in custody and health and safety aspects
  • Civil Recovery Orders in the UK and foreign jurisdictions, including the provisions under the new Criminal Finances Act
  • DPAs in the UK and the US
  • AML measures
  • Sanctions
  • Civil fraud


Criminal Cases

SFO/DOJ/Greece v. X and Others. 2008-Ongoing – Joint SFO/US DOJ & SEC/Greek Fraud investigation into international bribery and corruption by former Johnson & Johnson executives relating to paying bribes for the use of medical devices by surgeons.  J&J has paid $70m US and £5m UK settlements and entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Nick is sole UK counsel for a former VP of Finance, said to be the architect of the acquisition model hiding the bribes.  Nick and his team successfully negotiated with the SFO, DOJ, SEC and FBI so that no charges were brought either in the UK or the US. Criminal proceedings before the Fraud Court in Athens are ongoing. There are highly complex issues of double jeopardy, admissibility, disclosure and international comity in concurrent and lengthy multi-jurisdictional criminal proceedings. Working alongside international lawyers and experts in multiple jurisdictions.
R v. H and Others. 2014-Ongoing – International fraud and money laundering investigation. £12m said to have been obtained via a diversion fraud from UK public bodies including NHS Trusts. Nick acts for a Dubai based company director and represented him in Dubai and the UK, advising as to the criminal law in both jurisdictions and extradition. A large case running to 50,000 pages of material. Nick successfully avoided a conviction for fraud.
R v. X and Others. 2014-Ongoing – Nick acts for a company director in one of the first UK Bribery Act prosecutions, relating to bribes and facilitation payments in the construction industry in London.
R (MOD Fraud) v K International. 2014-Ongoing – Corporate corruption investigation by the fraud department of the Ministry of Defence, into a company who provides services to active troop operations in the Middle East. Nick acts for company directors, alleged to have paid bribes in return for inside information relating to the tendering process for securing large construction contracts.
Operation N. 2016-Ongoing – Nick is instructed as leading QC to prosecute multiple defendants for the fraudulent evasion of landfill tax to the value of apx £75m.
R v. Stubbs and Others. 2016-7 – Prosecution of joint enterprise murder, involving three defendants who targeted, chased down and then shot their victim in the back – included post-Jogee joint enterprise issues, diminished responsibility arising from effects of a prior head injury and admissibility concerning PAS material.
R v. Ali and Others. 2016 – 7 – Prosecution of multiple defendants for murder/manslaughter/death by driving, arising from an attack upon a homeless man, who was then driven over while prone in the road. Complex issues of causation.
R v. X (a minor). 2017 – Nick was instructed to lead the defence, acting for a 15 year old female in the York murder case concerning 7-year-old Katie Rough.
R v. Russell. 2016 – Defence leader for a man serving life for the attempted murder and rape of an elderly woman in her 80s, then charged with a like offence. It was a “cold case” where a modern investigation anaylsed historical evidence, also involving a very challenging client with extreme psychopathy. Heard by the Recorder of London at the Old Bailey.
Russian Federation v. Moskvitin. 2013-4 – Part 2 Extradition Act proceedings regarding an alleged high profile murder of a police officer who had allegedly raped a child. Case involved human rights objections relating to prison conditions, evidence obtained through torture and unfair trial procedures. Required travel to Moscow and liaison with Russian lawyers and authorities.
R v. Wright. 2013 – Instructed by the specialist Central Fraud Division of the CPS to prosecute a high profile charity fraud case of Kevin Wright, who set up charitable appeals around the UK, purportedly for children with cancer in urgent need of specialist treatment in the USA when, in reality, he had no intention of arranging for the children to be treated there and, instead, used the money for his own business and personal interests. The defendant had dishonestly appropriated just short of £1m, including £171,500 stolen from an appeal for the benefit of his own son. Included calling live link medical evidence from New York.
R v. Taylor. 2013 – Leading Junior acting for a former detective constable, successful defence to an allegation of a large scale conspiracy to defraud in a multi handed trial lasting 4 months. Alleged fraud spanned multiple business offering debt recovery, debt elimination and escort services in Spain and the UK.
R v. K & Others. 2012 – 2015 –  Leading junior counsel in one of the UK’s largest VHCC MTIC mobile telephone frauds, acting for one of the main Trial 1 defendants, trial listed for 5 months.
R v. Carbert & Others. 2011 – Successful defence of senior manager in 3 month trial relating to property fraud, s.9 Fraud Act 2006, statutory construction and application of the identification principle.
R v. Potter & Others. 2011 – Leading Junior for main defendant in 4 month boiler room SFO fraud, cut-throat defence, 40,000 plus pages, cross-examination of 50 witnesses, extensive expert scientific evidence relating to biofuels and bio-plastics, accountancy evidence.
Inquest re AM (a minor). 2011 – Acted for family in jury inquest concerning the death of a toddler at a nursery, choking incident, cross examination of pathologists, issues of standards of nursery care, ambulance practices and training.
R v. Kemp. 2010-11 – Successful defence of company director in largest ever investigation into pharmaceutical counterfeiting in the EU. MHRA’s largest prosecution to date, 5 month trial, required extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical regulations and industry, international aspects.
R v. Lee. 2010 – Leading Junior defending in “Ritz hotel fraud” – successful defence of alleged conspiracy to defraud by falsely representing that the Ritz hotel in London could be sold. Expert issues relating to the commercial property industry, international aspects.
R v Young-Morgan. 2010 – Successful defence relating to allegation of fraudulent operation of a solicitors’ practice. Fitness to plead and stand trial issues, expert psychiatric evidence.
R v. Anderson. 2007 – Conspiracy to murder (contract shooting), instructed after initial conviction, resurrected a successful appeal against conviction, against original pros team. Then leading junior in re-trial which resulted in charge being discontinued.
R v. PFE & Others. Acted for company and chief executive in 6 week trial of gross negligent manslaughter arising from crushing accident in an industrial baling machine.
R v. Charlton. Prosecuted an 8 week murder – female killed partner during sexual role-play, complicated scientific, psychiatric and IT issues, defence of slow-burn provocation and traumatic amnesia.
Appellate Level Cases of Note:
R v. Zaboli & Ors [2010] EWCA Crim1273. – Successful appeal in conspiracy to blackmail.
R v. Fielding [2010] EWCA Crim 427. Successful appeal in conspiracy to defraud, Court of Appeal referring to the “attractive and persuasive argument”.
R (Green) v. Police Complaints Authority & Oths (House of Lords) [2004] 1 WLR 725, UKHL6. Black youth driven over during police chase and surveillance operation, subsequent claim of deliberate racist attack by an agent of the State, issues as to the impact of Arts 2 & 3 ECHR upon a victim’s rights of disclosure and effective involvement in subsequent investigations into police driver, who I acted for. Established important principles governing a victim’s rights in various proceedings.
R v. DM [2008] EWCA Crim 1544. Successful preparatory hearing interim appeal in an armed robbery case, concerning the scope of previous acquittal evidence as bad character and the application in this context of s.101(3) of the CJA 2003.
R v. Anderson [2006] EWCA Crim 1506.  Leading junior in successful appeal against conviction in conspiracy to murder (contract killing), issue as to limits upon legitimate cross-examination of credibility, prosecution offered no evidence on main charge at re- trial.
A-Gs Refs (139, 140, 141) of 2006 [2007] EWCA Crim 463. Appropriate levels of sentencing for large-scale importation of cannabis.
R v. Anderson [2006]. EWCA Crim 1506 – Leading junior in successful appeal against conviction in conspiracy to murder (contract killing), issue as to limits upon legitimate cross-examination of credibility, prosecution offered no evidence on main charge at
re- trial.
A-Gs Refs (139, 140, 141) of 2006 [2007]. EWCA Crim 463 – appropriate levels of sentencing for large-scale importation of cannabis.
R v. Hill [2004] EWCA Crim 1855 – successful appeal in conspiracy to defraud.
R (Wardle) v. Crown Court at Leeds – [2001] 2 WLR 865 (House of Lords) – elderly man attacked and killed during a burglary, prosecution changed charge from murder to manslaughter after unjustifiable delay, issues of custody time limits, abuse of process, statutory construction, Art 5 ECHR.
R (P(A) and Others) v. Leeds Youth Court [2001]. 5 Arch News 1 DC – ambit of abuse jurisdiction in magistrates’ court, advance disclosure.
R v. Carass Times 21.1.02 CA. Statutory construction of reverse burden of proof s.206 of the Insolvency Act in the light of the Human Rights Act.