James Harrison

Year of Call: 2002  


The mainstays of James Harrison’s criminal practice are drugs and violence, fraudulent and sexual offence cases, in the Crown Court and Court of Appeal and the foundations for his growing practice in somewhat more niche areas of law.

Technologically savvy, down to earth and realistic, clients can expect a dedicated approach to mastering their case, straightforward advice and a quiet yet fierce tenacity in fighting their corner.

Clients can expect diligence, excellent client handling skills and first rate advocacy.


As is inevitable with any practice including serious drug and acquisitive criminal offending James has wide ranging experience of all aspects of Proceeds of Crime work; confiscation, restraint and forfeiture.


  • P: Accepted instructions post-conviction for a defendant said to have been con-cerned in masterminding the importation of over 100kgs of cocaine into the UK. Conducted the final hearing at which the Crown sought a benefit figure in excess of £12million and hidden assets in excess of £1 million.
  • D: Confiscation proceedings – instructed post conviction for DBIS in case where sole asset held in name of third party and issues further complicated by status of D as undischarged bankrupt.
  • C (Chambers Review): Court of Appeal – instructed post conviction. Part of CA review of cases where confiscation orders wrongly made in tobacco importation cases.
  • R: Post acquittal attempts by police to forfeit cash seized upon arrest. All cash returned, costs against police.


In an era where ever more criminal practitioners are seeking to develop practice in other areas, James continues to regard serious and organised crime as the mainstay of his practice. Glowing reviews from solicitors and clients alike for his approach in court and out of it underline his expertise.


  • L: Drug production and supply, firearms and allegations of police corruption including the leaking of sensitive information to notorious Manchester criminals.
  • F: £100K ram-raid on Cheshire jewellers.
  • T: Conspiracy to commit armed robbery comprising 14 such offences over 6 month period.
  • R: Conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Alleged co-conspirator shot dead by police officers upon arrest.


Technological advances in the commission and detection of fraud based crime, as well as in the prosecution and defence of such offences are ideally suited to James’ skill set. His ability to use technology to present evidence to a client’s advantage together with his attention to detail have led to repeated instruction in this area.


  • R: Decade long allegation of cheating the revenue, thorough alleged falsified VAT returns, invoices and sham companies.
  • J: As a led junior, defended an insurance broker accused of 30 counts of defrauding commercial and private clients by failing to incept insurance policies on their behalf. Acquitted of all counts.
  • G: Substantial fraud on London Underground Ltd, brought about by the lodging of fraudulent invoices, purportedly from well known advertising agency.
  • C: Duty fraud concerning warehousing and distribution of counterfeit cigarettes.
  • H: Led junior. Allegations of substantial conspiracies to defraud NHS and patients over years through mischarging of patients and manipulation of NHS billing system.

Murder & Manslaughter

James has accepted instructions to act both for prosecution and defence in allegations of murder.


  • H: Led junior. Secured the conviction of H for the murder of a man on Southend seafront, whilst on bail awaiting sentence for an offence of GBH.
  • L: As led junior, defended the first defendant in a multi-handed allegation of murder.
  • Concerned the murder of a man in the course of burglary of his home where the defendant accepted planning and arranging the burglary but not intending that violence should be used by those who carried out the burglary. Acquitted of murder.


Called to the Bar in 2002, James was taken on as a tenant at 2 Bedford Row following pupillage. He remains committed to practice as both a prosecutor (CPS grade 3) and a defender, firmly believing that one cannot truly master either one without regular exposure to the other.


  • B: Prosecuted. Allegation of perverting the course of justice against serving Metropolitan Police officer, found to have forged court documents to secure the arrest of his former partner.
  • B & Others: Led junior. Allegation of substantial and sophisticated cigarette importation via haulage firm involving falsified tachographs ad documentation.
  • J & G: Allegation of tax credit fraud and associated offences of money laundering. Prosecuted, instructed to advise from pre-charge stage.
  • H: Led junior. Secured the conviction of H for the murder of a man on Southend seafront, whilst on bail awaiting sentence for an offence of GBH.


Outside general criminal practice, James has undertaken prosecution and defence briefs in regulatory matters including DBIS, Environment Agency, Information Commissioner and Health and Safety prosecutions, financial services matters (having spent 6 months on secondment to the Financial Services Authority), professional disciplinary work and inquests. He has appeared in Trading Standards cases and has a growing practice in relation to cases concerning the Fire Safety Regulations (in both the Magistrates and Crown Courts). James has also appeared in licensing appeals and represented Transport for London in Environment Act proceedings.

Road Traffic

James regularly undertakes specialist defence work in relation to Road Traffic matters. He appears for insurer and private clients (including a fair number of household names!) and has an understanding of the expectations and demands of each. He has particular knowledge of defences arising from procedural or technological irregularities and has undertaken appellate (Divisional Court) work.

Serious Sexual Offences

In the current climate, where allegations of sexual misbehaviour are ever more prevalent, as are the prejudices which accompany them in the minds of many potential jurors, James believes that all defendants are entitled to the very best representation and can receive it within the Legal Aid system. He has developed a determined, compassionate and successful approach to dealing with defendants and complainants in such cases, where there is ever more emphasis on the need of the advocate to tread carefully in what are always sensitive matters.


  • S: Multiple historic allegations of rape, buggery and indecency upon wife and daughter.
  • P: Allegation of violent attempted rape on next door neighbour.
  • Willett: Multiple allegations of familial rape, including rape of brother in prison.
  • A: Allegations of serious predatory sexual assaults by a youth on multiple complainants.
  • D-P: Allegation of serious sexual assault by a hairdresser on a “hair model”.