David Spens QC


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Ranked by Legal 500 in Band 1 of Leading Silks in Crime at the London Bar. 1.10.17
1.10.2017 More >

QEB News: David Spens QC represents senior partner of small commercial firm in Court of Appeal
08.07.2016 More >

David Spens QC shortlisted for Legal 500 Criminal QC of the year award
5.11.2015 More >

David Spens QC and Tom Coke-Smyth comment in the Press Gazette on the latest developments in Operation Elveden and the changes introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015
9.6.2015 More >

Prosecution decide to offer no evidence in the retrial of Clive Goodman and Andy Coulson in News of the World corruption case.
18.4.2015 More >

David Spens QC secures notable acquittals for an international sales manager accused by the SFO of bribery in three African states.
23.12.2014 More >

David Spens QC: Notable case

R v Patrick Neale Orr (2016)

David Spens QC, in the Court of Appeal, successfully appeals the conviction for money laundering of the senior partner of a small City firm.

The defendant's co-accused, Scheffer and Bakker, were Dutch nationals who worked with the United Nations Development Program. In 2004/5 a $42 million contract for the supply and distribution of medical aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was to be put out for tender. Scheffer and Bakker negotiated an agreement with a Danish pharmaceuticals company, Missionpharma, that in return for assistance in securing a contract the co-accused would receive a percentage of payments made under it. Missionpharma was successful in its bid and paid the defendant 5% of their contractual payments through a company set up specifically for this purpose, HC Consultants Limited ("HCC"). Throughout 2006 to 2007 $1.2 million was paid accordingly, which the prosecution asserted were corrupt payments. The defendant, a solicitor in private practice, acted for Scheffer and Bakker. He drafted the agreements, set up HCC and became the sole director and signatory on HCC's bank accounts. Over the course of 2006/7, he dealt with the payments from Missionpharma through HCC's bank accounts on instructions from his co-accused.

He was indicted on one count of fraudulent trading, and a second of being concerned in a money laundering arrangement. After delay caused by his co-accused' requests for disclosure, his first trial, with Scheffer, began in October 2012. It was terminated when he became unwell shortly after his cross-examination by the prosecution had begun.

His second trial,again through no fault of his, did not begin until October 2014. After giving evidence in chief, when the prosecution was due to cross-examine him he became similarly unwell. Two psychiatrists examined him. He was found to be suffering from depression at the high end of 'moderate' in the 'mild, moderate, severe' spectrum, and from an acute stress reaction to the prospect of being cross-examined and challenged in public. It was agreed that his condition was genuine. Mr Spens QC submitted that he was unfit to be tried in the Pritchard, as modified by John (M), sense, and that the jury should be discharged from giving a verdict but proceed to a hearing under Section 4A of the Criminal Procedure and Insanity Act 1964 of whether he "did the act". The judge found he was unfit to be cross-examined but not that he was 'unfit to be tried'. He ordered that the case continue, despite the defendant's inability to be cross-examined, with the prosecution speech curtailed so as not to include comment on any matter the defendant might have been able to meet in cross-examination.

After a retirement of over 21 hours and a majority verdict direction, the jury acquitted him of Count 1, but convicted him 10-1 on Count 2 on the basis he must have at least suspected the payments he dealt with were the proceeds of crime.

The issue for the Court of Appeal was whether the judge had been correct to rule the defendant, despite his involuntary incapacity to be cross-examined, was nonetheless not 'unfit to be tried'.

The Court of Appeal, on the facts, held he had been 'unfit to be tried', and that the Section 4A procedure should be been followed. The conviction was quashed. No retrial was ordered.

David Spens QC was instructed by the Stokoe Partnership

Notable cases:

R v Reynolds (2017)
Representing the Sales and Tendering Manager in SFO's prosecution of Alstom for bribery in Lithuania.

R v Patrick Neale Orr (2016)
David Spens QC, in the Court of Appeal, successfully appeals the conviction for money laundering of the senior partner of a small commercial City firm.

R v Forrester (2014)
Secures notable acquittals for an international sales manager accused by SFO of bribery in three African states.

R -v- Clive Goodman, Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson and others (2013)
Represented the journalist Clive Goodman in the News of the World phone hacking and corruption case.

R -v- KD (2012)
Secured the acquittal of KD accused of involvement in the first carbon credit fraud prosecuted. 

R -v- AA (2011)
Represented the first youth to attack the victim in the Victoria Station murder.

R -v- Gilmour (Charlie) (2011)
Represented the son of the Pink Floyd guitarist who was at the forefront of the London student protests.

R -v- Black (2011)
Defended a serial abductor and killer of young girls in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.