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
1.10.17 More >

QEB News: David Spens QC represents senior partner of small commercial City 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

Call 1973
Silk 1995

Practice: Business Crime and Crime

"A master tactician." Chambers UK (2018)

"He is a heavyweight when it comes to serious crime" Legal 500 (2017)

Praised for his advocacy, he has vast experience of both serious general crime and financial crime. "He's a very good tactician who is very good in front of the jury and very well respected by the judiciary."' Chambers UK - Crime (2017)

"Steely in court with the opposition, tender and caring towards his clients." "You can see in court he has the judiciary's respect." - Legal 500 (2016)

"He is an attractive advocate who is cool, concise, and economical" - Chambers UK (2016)

"A highly regarded and sophisticated senior silk." - Legal 500 (2015)

"He is charming and clever, and has superb analysis. He is also second to none as a tactician." - Chambers UK (2015)

David Spens QC has built a formidable reputation for securing acquittals against the odds.

He is a shrewd advocate described by the Legal 500 as using "the intelligent strategy and tactical analysis of a military general" and "very astute, cuts to the core, hugely respected by Judges." (2015) He displays equal expertise whether defending complex cases of business crime, health and safety, serious sexual offences, murder or terrorism.


Formerly a Treasury Counsel. He is a sought after silk who has acted in numerous high profile and sensitive cases.

"A very stylish advocate whom juries like because of his down to earth approach" Chambers UK (2015), David's approach to cases is to provide real leadership and direction to his team.

His frank, approachable and creative manner inspires confidence in solicitors and clients alike.

Business Crime

In acquiring a successful track record in defending frauds David has "forged a particular reputation for representing businessmen in trouble. Popular with the judiciary his manner has been described as a blend of subtely and flair, and he is felt to lend any case he is involved in a level of gravitas". "A tremendously hard worker, both impressive and witty before judge and jury".  Chambers UK.

"He is on an intellectual par with the judges, if not higher. They treat him with such respect.” – Chambers UK, (2018)

“The extent to which he has every detail while seeing the wider picture is quite extraordinary.” – Legal 500, (2017)

David is developing a niche practice defending individuals accused of bribery and corruption both in the UK and overseas.

He instructed to represent the manager for Sales and Tendering for Performance Projects Europe in SFO's prosecution of Alstom Power Ltd for bribery in respect of two contracts worth €225 million to refurbish a Lithuanian Power Station (Operation Yuletide).

In December 2014 he secured the acquittal of the international sales manager of a UK security printing company, Smith and Ouzman, accused by the SFO of 3 counts of bribery in Ghana, Mauritania and Somaliland despite the fact that in the same prosecution the company and two directors were convicted of bribery in Kenya. 

He was instructed to represent the Director of Business Development in Africa of an Australian company, Securency, a supplier of polymer substrate used to manufacture polymer banknotes, who was accused by the SFO of paying bribes to the Nigerian Security and Minting PLC to obtain contracts worth many millions of Euros.

Manslaughter by Gross Negligence; Health and Safety Legislation

David is instructed in such cases including:

R v AW

This involved the alleged manslaughter of a Naval Lieutenant by a Petty Officer at the Military Diving School, Gosport, Hampshire. The Lieutenant died while diving under the supervision of the Petty Officer. The case required a mastery of the principles of diving, the pathology of death by drowning, the military rules regulating diving and the relevant health and safety legislation.

R v MG

This involved the alleged manslaughter of a welder who was blown up while mending the inner bulkhead of a petrol tanker. It required a thorough understanding of the inner workings of petrol tankers, how they are 'degassed', the principles of welding and the relevant health and safety legislation.

Both defendants were acquitted of all charges.


"His ability to apply forensic skill and judgement to crimes of serious violence is excellent and he has an engaging manner with client, judge and jury." – Chambers UK, (2018)

Serious Sexual Offences

David undertakes such cases, particularly historical ones, and recently secured the acquittal of a care worker accused of sexually assaulting a vulnerable Ethiopian adolescent. The young man was 13 but had the communication skills of a 3/4 year old. He had to be cross-examined through not just an interpreter but also an intermediary and using visual aids. David has just secured the acquittal of a philanthropist accused of sexual abuse of a female, to whom he was the legal guardian, in Barbados, Granada and London over a 9 year period. He is currently instructed to represent an engineer alleged to have sexually abused his 5 year old daughter. He is a Recorder ticketed to try serious sexual offences and is an accredited facilitator for training barristers how to handle vulnerable witnesses.


Since defending Learco Chindamo, the youth convicted of murdering headmaster Philip Lawrence in 1998, David has been instructed in many cases of murder, many involving joint enterprise. He has acted in more than 250 murder cases and has special expertise in cross-examining pathologists and forensic psychiatrists. He was recently involved in a 3 month long case of familial homicide contrary to section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

He has just been instructed to represent an ex-commando who is accused of murdering an 83 year old dog walker in woodland near Norwich by cutting his throat.


David was instructed in three of the most serious cases; R v WM (2007). the 21 July 2005 attempt to bomb the London Underground; R v II (2009) the plan by a suicide bomber to blow up the Broadmead Shopping Centre in Bristol; R v NH (2010), the Heathrow aiport bomb plot.


1994 Recorder authorised to sit at Central Criminal Court


1988-1995 Treasury Counsel, Central Criminal Court


Former Chairman, Criminal Bar Association and former Leader, South Eastern Circuit.


Professional Memberships

Criminal Bar Association

Fraud Lawyers Association

British Italian Lawyers Association

Bencher, Inner Temple


French, Italian

Direct Public Access

David accepts work via direct public access. For further information please click here.

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.