Richard Whittam QC

Year of Call: 1983  Silk: 2008  Recorder: 2009  Deputy High Court Judge: 2016


Richard Whittam QC is a specialist criminal practitioner with experience in the most complex and high profile criminal cases. Until November 2015 he was First Senior Treasury Counsel [Crime]. Throughout his time as Treasury Counsel he maintained his defence practice.

He was awarded Crime Silk of the Year 2016 and again ranked as a Leading QC in the 2017 edition of the Chambers & Partners Guide to the Bar, which states Richard is “renowned and respected by commentators for his tenacity, work ethic and superior jury advocacy”. He has been ranked by Chambers as a leading barrister for over 16 years: “He is really top-drawer and has very impressive court craft”; “He takes everything in his stride. Nothing seems to bother him and he just won’t be deflected from achieving a good result”; “astute, hardworking and meticulous in his paperwork”; “a strong Treasury Counsel who realises that to be effective, you don’t need to be an enemy of your opponent”; “a fearless advocate who glides through proceedings with effortless style” and “a stunning addition to any team with pep and industry to spare”.

Richard was instructed by the SFO regarding its investigation into RR plc. He led a team of junior counsel and advised the SFO about the Deferred Prosecution Agreement. He dealt with all the substantive law issues [including jurisdiction], the negotiations and penalty. He appeared at both the private and public hearings. The outcome was that RR plc agreed to a total penalty of £497.25 million plus £13 million costs.

In addition to appearing in court Richard advises on law and strategy pre-charge in important and sensitive cases.

Along with Peter Wanless he advised the Home Office about the apparently ‘missing’ files. He is seen by the media as an expert on criminal law, not least after his appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee to answer questions about the Wanless Whittam report: [in particular, after 3.44]. Richard was interviewed live by Joshua Rozenberg about the Pistorius trial [Law in Action].

He has been instructed in cases where others had failed to find a way to conduct the case. He prosecuted a man for making millions of pounds by manufacturing and selling fake bomb detectors in Iraq and other countries. That trial was the subject of a Vanity Fair article Vanity Fair article. It was a case that, until Richard was instructed, no-one had been able to prosecute.

Short Biography

  • 2016: Crime Silk of the year
  • 2016 – date: Deputy High Court Judge
  • 2014 – date: Member of the RFU Judicial Panel
  • 2014 – date: Legal Adviser to and Independent Examiner for Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
  • 2013 – 2015: First Senior Treasury Counsel to the Crown at the Central Criminal Court
  • 2012 – date: Legal Assessor to the NMC
  • 2010 – date: Nominated by Chairman of the Bar to sit on the Joint Tribunal for Fee Disputes with Solicitors
  • 2009 – 2013: Legal Adviser to the General Social Care Council
  • 2009 – date: Recorder of the Crown Court (approved to sit at the Central Criminal Court)
  • 2008 – date: Queen’s Counsel
  • 2006 – 2015: Senior Treasury Counsel to the Crown at the Central Criminal Court
  • 2002 – 2006: First Junior Treasury Counsel to the Crown at the Central Criminal Court
  • 1998 – 2006: Junior Treasury Counsel to the Crown at the Central Criminal Court
  • 1983: Called to the Bar, Gray’s Inn


Richard has an impressive appellate practice. He advised and represented the Law Officers in respect of Unduly Lenient Sentences for almost two decades. Below are some of the cases in which he was instructed in the last 18 months. Save for Incedal, he did not appear in the trials at first instance. Recently he was instructed by the Director of the Service Prosecution Authority to respond to the appeal of Alexander Blackman [Former Marine Sgt Blackman aka Marine A] to respond to his appeal against his conviction for murder. The Court Martial Appeal Court comprised of five judges: Lord Thomas CJ; President QBD [Sir Brian Leveson]; Vice President Court of Appeal Criminal Division [Hallett LJ]; Openshaw J and Sweeney J.


R v Kahar, Ziamani & Others, [2016] EWCA Crim 568: Richard was instructed to intervene on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Court was specially assembled to give definitive guidance on sentencing in s5 Terrorism cases. It was another five-judge court: Lord Thomas CJ; President QBD [Sir Brian Leveson]; Hickinbottom J; Sweeney J and Cheema-Grubb J. Lord Thomas agreed with, and adopted, Richard’s submissions [see judgement §§ 12& 13].

R v Hunter and others [2015] 2 Cr App R 9: The Court of Appeal reviewed good character. Richard had not appeared in any of the trials. The case was again sufficiently important for five judges to sit: Lord Thomas CJ; President QBD [Sir Brian Leveson]; Vice President Court of Appeal Criminal Division [Hallett LJ]; Coulson J and Globe J].

R v Incedal No 2 [2016] 1 Cr. App. R. 33: The second appeal lasted for four days. Richard persuaded Lord Thomas CJ to agree it was necessary for some parts of exceptional criminal trials to be heard in private despite his great reluctance to do so [Lord Thomas CJ, Vice President Court of Appeal Criminal Division [Hallett LJ] and Sharp LJ].

R v R & 7 others, [2016] 1 Cr. App. R. 20: A huge Inland Revenue prosecution had gone wrong and the trial had been stayed five years after the proceedings had commenced. The Court reviewed the statutory disclosure regime. Richard was instructed by the Attorney General to intervene. It was another specially convened court, on this occasion three Lord Justices of Appeal, all of whom historically had given guidance on disclosure: President QBD [Sir Brian Leveson], Gross LJ [Senior Presiding Judge England and Wales] and Fulford LJ [Gross’ successor].

Richard was instructed in two very important historic murder appeals where he had not appeared in either of the trials. Despite well-orchestrated campaigns in each appeal, all convictions were upheld:

Alan Charlton & Idris Ali [2016] EWCA Crim 52: Vice President Court of Appeal Criminal Division [Hallett LJ]: Historic murder of a teenager after she had been raped, with the background of massive police corruption in South Wales [Mouncher etc].

Kevin Lane [2015] EWCA Crim 1226: [Rafferty LJ]: Historic gangland murder. The appeal based on what was accepted to be a ‘spectacularly dishonest’ police officer was dismissed.

Coroners Inquests

Richard Whittam advised the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the Inquest into the death of Ninety-six men, women and children who died as a result of the Hillsborough Disaster on 15 April 1989. It remains the most serious tragedy in UK sporting history.


Crime Silk of the Year 2016 [Chambers and Partners UK Guide to the Bar].

In addition to his work summarised under the heading ‘Overview’, Richard Whittam QC led the team of advocates instructed by the SFO to assist in its investigation into Rolls Royce plc [which, at the time, was the largest single investigation carried out by the SFO]. He prosecuted the murderers of Jo Cox, Lee Rigby and the man accused of murdering PC Blakelock. Richard also prosecuted Erol Incedal in the ‘secret’ terrorist trial. He regularly appears in large and complex cases such as Ali & Others – the ‘Airlines Plot’ to blow up simultaneously several transatlantic aircraft [which, at the time, was the largest police investigation in the world].

Please see the individual Specialisms headings for further examples of his specialist criminal work.


SFO v Rolls Royce Plc

Richard was instructed in 2013 to lead a team of experienced junior counsel who advised across different jurisdictions on the four strands of the work carried out by Rolls Royce [Civil Aviation, Defence Aviation, Energy & Marine divisions].

The draft indictment included five allegations of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, one count of false accounting and five counts of failure to prevent bribery. The facts are spread across two decades in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, Nigeria and China.

In summary, the draft indictment reflected: agreements to make corrupt payments to agents in connection with the sale of Trent aero engines for civil aircraft in Indonesia and Thailand between 1989 and 2006 (Counts 1-4); the concealment or obfuscation of the use of intermediaries to facilitate its Defence business in India between 2005 and 2009 when the use of intermediaries was restricted (Count 5) and the making of a corrupt payment in 2006/7 to recover a list of intermediaries that had been taken from RR in India (Count 6); an agreement to make corrupt payments to agents in connection with the supply of gas compression equipment in Russia between January 2008 and December 2009 (Count 7); failing to prevent bribery in conducting its Energy business in Nigeria and Indonesia between the commencement of the Bribery Act 2010 and May 2013 (Count 8) and July 2013 (Count 9) and similar failures in relation to its Civil business in Indonesia, China and Malaysia between the commencement of the Bribery Act 2010 and December 2013 (Counts 10-12).

The full judgement of Sir Brian Leveson, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and appendices ‘A‘ and ‘B‘ are found here.

The Statement of Facts is found here, as is the Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

Richard, instructed by Richard Egan of Tuckers Solicitors, secured the acquittal of X, a man of good character, who was charged with insider dealing in relation to the takeover of Logica plc by CGI.


R v McCormick: James McCormick was a businessman indicted with making and selling articles for use in fraud, namely bomb detectors that did not work. Some were sold to Iraq and used on checkpoints on the edge of the Green Zone. The CPS had decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Richard was asked to advise whether a prosecution could be brought, and if so, for what. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to the maximum sentence available. The Court of Appeal upheld the sentence. This was the first in a series of prosecutions of several defendants for like devices.


Richard Whittam’s practice has an international element.

He has spoken at conferences in the USA, Australia and Spain and made a presentation to the US Attorney General.

Richard has taught European, African and Asian judges. He has an intimate knowledge as to how investigations are conducted in different jurisdictions and is familiar with obtaining evidence from abroad.

He has appeared in cases in the Isle of Man.


Richard Whittam Prosecuted the case of Erol Incedal and another [formerly referred to as AB and CD].

He advises on production orders, warrants and the protection afforded to journalists under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Military Law

Richard Whittam was instructed to advise the Director of the Service Prosecution Authority in relation to alleged War Crimes and he advised the Attorney General as to whether the sentence passed on the former SAS Sergeant, Danny Nightingale was unduly lenient.

Recently he was instructed by the Director of the Service Prosecution Authority to respond to the appeal of Alexander Blackman [Former Marine Sgt Blackman aka Marine A] against his conviction for murder. The Court Martial Appeal Court comprised of five judges: Lord Thomas CJ; President QBD [Sir Brian Leveson]; Vice President Court of Appeal Criminal Division [Hallett LJ]; Openshaw J and Sweeney J.

He has appeared in Court Martial trials in the UK and in Germany.

Murder & Manslaughter


R v Thomas Mair: Richard Whittam QC led the prosecution team that prosecuted Thomas Mair for the murder of Jo Cox MP. Jo Cox was the first woman Member of Parliament to be murdered and the first sitting MP to be murdered since Ian Gow was murdered in 1990. Thomas Mair received a whole life sentence.

R v Adebolajo & Adebowale: The defendants were two radical Islamists who ran down and then murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby in a street in Woolwich. They deliberately targeted a British soldier and attempted to decapitate him in public. Novel issues of law arose, including the legal meaning of “Queen’s Peace”. The issue of fitness to be tried was raised and the court heard evidence over a number of days from three consultant psychiatrists. The family liaison with Lee Rigby’s relatives and friends was somewhat complicated by the fact that the deceased was estranged, but not divorced, from his wife [with whom he had a young child] and he was engaged to be married to another woman. Despite those complications, after Richard explained the need to have a cohesive approach, all the relatives and friends agreed to be seen as a collective group at the end of each court day.

R v J, the murder of PC Blakelock: Richard did not advise on the prospects of success but was instructed to prosecute the case. He resisted an application to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process and a submission of no case to answer at the close of the prosecution case.

R v Kunene & Kunene: The defendants were married and adherents to their own particular interpretation of Seventh Day Adventism. As a vegan, the mother did not provide sufficient nourishment for her infant child by breast-feeding and the health of the infant deteriorated. Despite warnings over a period of months from her family, no medical help was sought and the infant died. Both defendants pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

R v Igbinedion: The defendant stamped on his 3-year-old nephew whilst he was looking after him, causing ‘catastrophic injuries’ that killed him. It was necessary to call as a witness the defendant’s own daughter, who was aged 9 at the time [10 when she gave evidence]. She gave evidence via the video link, and had to be treated as hostile.

R v Williams & Others: A multi-handed murder trial [eight defendants, all with two counsel] most notable because one of the defendants was profoundly deaf. The entire proceedings were simultaneously translated into British Sign Language, and the deaf defendant had the benefit of an Intermediary throughout the trial, including when he gave evidence in his own defence. The prosecution also relied on anonymous witnesses. The Court of Appeal recently upheld the convictions.

R v Attila Ban: An hotel receptionist murdered two work colleagues in his own flat and then hid under a bed for two days whilst the police conducted their investigation in and around the premises. Expert psychiatric evidence called by both sides. The family liaison was difficult because the mother of one of the deceased was from Hungary and had little understanding of the English Legal System. Richard explained the proceedings to both families before the trial commenced and at the end of each court day.

R v K & Others: The deceased was the subject of mistaken identity. He was shot dead as he left a fast food outlet in what was intended to be a further attack by one gang on another. Considerable reliance was placed on telephone records, CCTV recordings, and scientific evidence.

R v Naik: The defendant was a solicitor who took over the representation of a 14-year-old boy in an attempt to persuade him to plead guilty so that the interview he had given to the police would not feature in the trial of the gang leader. The boy did not change his plea and was murdered on the eve of the trial. The gang leader coordinated the murder from inside prison by the illegal use of mobile phones. Richard successfully prosecuted that gang leader in an earlier trial. In the trial of the solicitor for perverting the course of justice, a number of legal issues arose, including legal professional privilege.

Professional Discipline

Richard Whittam QC is a Legal Adviser to, and the Independent Examiner for, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Previously he was also a legal assessor for the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the GSCC. He advises the IPCC in relation to deaths caused by police officers and is a member of the RFU Judicial Panel.

Health & Safety

Richard Whittam QC is familiar with the “Work Related Deaths: A Protocol for Liaison” and its application in conjunction with the “Work Related Deaths Protocol: Practical Guide” from his work as First Senior Treasury Counsel [Crime].   He has prosecuted and advised in cases of gross negligence manslaughter [Medical and Industrial].  He is familiar with the assessment of reasonable foreseeability of serious and obvious risk of death: R-v-Rose [2017] 2 Cr App R 28


  • ARDL
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • First Senior Treasury Counsel [Crime] 2013-2015
  • Fraud Lawyers Association
  • International Associate Member of the American Bar Association
  • RFU Judicial Panel
  • South Eastern Circuit


  • LLB (Hons), University College London