Called to the Bar:1973

Silk:1995

  • Former Treasury Counsel with a great eye for every detail of a case and translating it effortlessly for the jury; he has a formidable reputation as a tactician, for powerful cross-examination, and securing acquittals against the odds.

    Corporate & Financial Crime

    David Spens QC has a niche practice, defending senior individuals accused by the SFO of serious bribery: Forrester (Smith & Ouzman; Mauritania, Ghana, Somaliland) Chapman (Securency; Nigeria) Reynolds (Alstom; Lithuania) and is advising in the Barratt Homes Investigation.

    Other key areas of his white collar defence practice include health and safety, gross negligence manslaughter and fraud.

    Crime

    David secured the acquittal of Clive Goodman, the royal editor in the News of the World phone hacking trial.

    He defends prominent individuals accused of sexual offences, particularly historical ones. He recently secured the acquittal of a philanthropist alleged to have committed offences in Barbados, Grenada and London. He is currently advising a high profile individual in respect of allegations in the Caribbean and Paris.

    His clients have ranged from celebrities – Cynthia Payne (Madam Sin), Charlie Gilmour – to notorious killers – Learco Chindamo, Kenneth Erskine (the Stockwell Strangler) and Robert Black.

    Reviews

    Chambers UK 2020: Crime – Band 1; Financial Crime – Band 2

    Legal 500 2020: Business and Regulatory Crime (Including Global investigations) – Tier 3; Crime – Tier 3.

    ‘Modest, extremely thorough and has a very good, even temper.’ ‘He has the ability to pick out detail, but is also very good on strategy. He's hugely reassuring for clients.’ Chambers UK Crime (2020)

    ‘He is very, very methodical and extremely good with client care.’ ‘A brilliant tactician.’ Chambers UK Financial Crime (2020)

    ‘A very good performer.’ Legal 500 Business & Regulatory Crime (2020)

    ‘His ability to get to the detail of a case is outstanding.’ Legal 500 Crime (2020)

    ‘Charming and highly respected.’ ‘He's immensely experienced, absolutely brilliant with clients and someone with a great eye for detail.’ Chambers UK Crime (2019)

    ‘An incredibly effective advocate who is invaluable in a complex fraud case; he makes the complex simple.’ Chambers UK Financial Crime (2019)

    ‘A real heavyweight silk with immense experience – his eye for detail is superb.’ Legal 500 Business & Regulatory Crime (2018)

    ‘His eye for detail is superb and he has a really great manner with clients.’ Legal 500 Crime (2018)

    ‘A master tactician.’ ‘He is on an intellectual par with the judges, if not higher. They treat him with such respect. He is a very good speech-maker.’ Chambers UK Financial Crime (2018)

    ‘Very thorough and someone with a great eye for detail, he's also very good with clients.’ ‘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.’ ‘He's really the master of his brief – absolutely everything is crossed and dotted.’ Chambers UK Crime (2018)

    ‘The extent to which he has every detail while seeing the wider picture is quite extraordinary.’ Legal 500 Business and Regulatory Crime (2017)

    ‘He is a heavyweight when it comes to serious crime.’ ‘He is charming and clever, and has superb analysis. He’s also second to none as a tactician.’ Chambers UK Crime (2015)

    Appointments

    • 2009 - 2010: Leader, South Eastern Circuit
    • 2004 - 2005: Chairman, Criminal Bar Association
    • 1988-1995: Treasury Counsel, Central Criminal Court
    • 1994: Recorder authorised to sit at Central Criminal Court
    • Appointed to the official List of Counsel of lawyers eligible to practice before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in the Hague

    Professional Memberships

    • Criminal Bar Association
    • Fraud Lawyers Association
    • British Italian Lawyers Association
    • Bencher, Inner Temple

    Education

    • University of Kent at Canterbury (BA)

    Privacy Notice

    Recent Cases

    • Mohammed Abdul Shakur is currently on trial at the Old Bailey, accused of murdering his wife, Juli Begum, and their children, Anika and Thanha Khanum, aged five and six, on New Year’s Day in 2007.Mr Begum is alleged to have fled the country in the d...

      ...
    • David Spens QC 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 Nigerian Se...

      ...
    • Patryk Olowniuk was shot in Bedford on Saturday 27th October 2018. Three men, Ryan Davis, Marcus West and Lance Marshalleck, were charged with his murder. At the Central Criminal Court on Monday Ryan Davis was acquitted of murder and possession of a firea...

      ...
    • David Spens QC and Caoimhe Daly prosecute former care home boss, 71, found guilty of a number of sex offences against boys in his care in North Wales.

      ...
    • David Spens QC leading Paul Raudnitz was instructed to represent an ex-commando who was accused of murdering an 83-year-old.

      ...
    • David Spens QC represented a philanthropist accused of sexual abuse of a female in three different countries.

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

      ...
    • David Spens QC was instructed to represent the Director of Business Development in Africa of an Australian company.

      ...
    • David Spens QC represented a young woman who suffocated her two-month-old child to death.

      ...

    News

    Articles

  • Corporate and Financial Crime

    A master tactician and one of the brightest intellects; a natural in the defence of individuals facing high profile bribery and corruption charges.

    Experience 

    David Spens QC has a reputation built from a vast and varied experience across the full spectrum of financial crime offences, often involving multiple jurisdictions.

    In December 2014, David secured the acquittal of the international sales manager of a UK security printing company, Smith and Ouzman, accused by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of three counts of bribery in Ghana, Mauritania and Somaliland. This was made particularly remarkable by the fact that in the same prosecution the company and two directors were convicted of bribery in Kenya.

    He represented 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 Nigerian Security and Minting Plc to obtain contracts worth millions of euros.

    David represented the Global Sales Director of Alstom Power Ltd., Boiler Retrofits Unit who was accused by the SFO of conspiracy to pay bribes to government ministers and officials at the Elektrenai Power Station in Lithuania between 2002 and 2010 to obtain contracts worth 240m euros to refurbish it.

    He is currently advising in the Barratt Homes case.

    David’s experience of health and safety and manslaughter by gross negligence includes: R v AW, the alleged manslaughter of a Naval Lieutenant by a Petty Officer at the Military Diving School; and R v MG, involving the alleged manslaughter of a welder who was blown up while mending a petrol tanker. Both defendants were acquitted of all charges.

    David is considered to be one of the most astute and commanding advocates at the senior bar. Notwithstanding his rank, he continues to be regarded as a real team player and a pleasure to work with.

    Notable Cases

    • R v Nicholas Reynolds (2018)
      Representing the Global Sales Director of Alstom Power Ltd accused by the SFO of bribery in Lithuania.
       
    • R v Peter Chapman (2016)
      Representing the Director of Business Development in Africa of Securency accused by the SFO of bribery in Nigeria.
       
    • R v Timothy Forrester (2014)
      Secured notable acquittals for an international sales manager accused by the SFO of bribery in three African states.
       
    • R v KD (2012)
      Secured the acquittal of KD accused of involvement in the first carbon credit fraud prosecution.

    Reviews

    Chambers UK 2020: Financial Crime – Band 2

    Legal 500 2020: Business and Regulatory Crime (Including Global investigations) – Tier 3

    ‘He is very, very methodical and extremely good with client care.’ ‘A brilliant tactician.’ Chambers UK Financial Crime (2020)

    ‘A very good performer.’ Legal 500 Business & Regulatory Crime (2020)

    ‘An incredibly effective advocate' who is 'invaluable in a complex fraud case; he makes the complex simple.’ Chambers UK Financial Crime (2019)

    ‘A real heavyweight silk with immense experience – his eye for detail is superb.’ Legal 500 Business & Regulatory Crime (2018)

    ‘A master tactician.’ Chambers UK (2018)

    ‘He is on an intellectual par with the judges, if not higher. They treat him with such respect. He is a very good speech-maker.’ Chambers UK (2018)

    ‘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 (2017)

    ‘His grasp of the evidence and painstaking attention to detail is really impressive.’ Legal 500 (2017)

    ‘The extent to which he has every detail while seeing the wider picture is quite extraordinary.’ Legal 500 Business and Regulatory Crime (2017)

    ‘He is an attractive advocate who is cool, concise, and economical.’ Chambers UK (2016)

    ‘You can see in court that he has the judiciary’s respect.’ Legal 500 (2016)

    ‘Bribery Act matters are a core part of his practice.’ Legal 500 (2016)

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

    ‘Invariably has the ear of the court.’ Legal 500 (2015)

    Recent Cases

    • David Spens QC 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 Nigerian Se...

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

    • David Spens QC was instructed to represent the Director of Business Development in Africa of an Australian company.

    News

  • A silk with a formidable reputation as a heavyweight in the field of general crime; he is revered for his meticulous preparation, powerful cross-examination and superior advocacy.

    Overview

    David secured the acquittal of Clive Goodman, the royal editor, in the News of the World phone hacking trial.

    He defends prominent individuals accused of sexual offences, particularly historical ones.

    Experience 

    A heavyweight in this field, David’s experience spans the full spectrum of serious crime; he frequently obtains acquittals against the odds. He is a particularly searching cross-examiner.

    David successfully represented Clive Goodman, former News of the World royal editor, in the ‘phone hacking trial' featuring Rebekah Brooks and Andrew Coulson.

    David secured the acquittal of a care worker accused of sexually assaulting a vulnerable Ethiopian adolescent who was 13 but had the communication skills of a three-year-old. He had to be cross-examined through an interpreter, an intermediary and using visual aids.

    Recently David successfully represented Roger England, a philanthropist who was accused of sexual abuse of an adolescent female, to whom he was the legal guardian, in Barbados, Granada and London over a nine-year period. Currently he is leading a UK legal team, including another silk, advising a high-profile individual accused of allegations in the Caribbean and Paris.

    David has defended in all types of murder cases; since defending Learco Chindamo (of the murder of headmaster Philip Lawrence in 1998), David has been the go-to silk for defending high-profile murder. Many have involved joint enterprise. He has acted in more than 250 murder cases and has special skill in cross-examining pathologists and forensic psychiatrists.

    David is regarded as an expert in the field of terrorism. He 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 airport bomb plot.

    David is recognised as the master of his brief and as someone who has the respect of the Judges; his cross-examination and speech-making skills are amongst the finest.

    Notable Cases 

    • R v Alexander Palmer (2018)
      Represented a former commando accused of killing an 83-year-old dog walker.
       
    • R v Bryan David (2018)
      Successfully prosecuted the headmaster of a children’s home for historical sex abuse of 13 vulnerable children in his care.
       
    • R v Clive Goodman, Rebekah Brooks, Andrew Coulson & Others (2014)
      Successfully defended Clive Goodman, News of the World royal editor, in the phone hacking trial.
       
    • R v AA (2011)
      Defended the first youth to attack the victim in the Victoria Station murder. He was acquitted of murder.
       
    • R v Charlie Gilmour (2011)
      Defended the son of the Pink Floyd guitarist who was at the forefront of the London student protests.
       
    • R v Robert Black (2011)
      Defended a serial abductor and killer of young girls in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Reviews

    Chambers UK 2020: Crime – Band 1

    Legal 500 2020: Crime – Tier 3

    ‘Modest, extremely thorough and has a very good, even temper.’ ‘He has the ability to pick out detail, but is also very good on strategy. He's hugely reassuring for clients.’ Chambers UK Crime (2020)

    ‘His ability to get to the detail of a case is outstanding.’ Legal 500 Crime (2020)

    ‘Charming and highly respected.’ ‘He's immensely experienced, absolutely brilliant with clients and someone with a great eye for detail.’ Chambers UK Crime (2019)

    ‘His eye for detail is superb and he has a really great manner with clients.’ Legal 500 Crime (2018)

    ‘Very thorough and someone with a great eye for detail, he's also very good with clients.’ ‘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.’ ‘He's really the master of his brief – absolutely everything is crossed and dotted.’ Chambers UK Crime (2018)

    ‘He’s a very good tactician who is very good in front of the jury and very well respected by the judiciary.’ Chambers UK (2017)

    ‘He is a heavyweight when it comes to serious crime.’ Legal 500 (2017)

    ‘He is an attractive advocate who is cool, concise and economical.’ Chambers UK (2016)

    ‘Steely in court with the opposition, and tender and caring towards his clients.’ Legal 500 (2016)

    ‘A highly regarded and sophisticated senior silk.’ Legal 500 (2016)

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

    ‘He is a very stylish advocate, whom juries like because of his down-to-earth approach.’ Chambers UK (2015)

    Recent Cases

    • Mohammed Abdul Shakur is currently on trial at the Old Bailey, accused of murdering his wife, Juli Begum, and their children, Anika and Thanha Khanum, aged five and six, on New Year’s Day in 2007.Mr Begum is alleged to have fled the country in the d...

    • Patryk Olowniuk was shot in Bedford on Saturday 27th October 2018. Three men, Ryan Davis, Marcus West and Lance Marshalleck, were charged with his murder. At the Central Criminal Court on Monday Ryan Davis was acquitted of murder and possession of a firea...

    • David Spens QC and Caoimhe Daly prosecute former care home boss, 71, found guilty of a number of sex offences against boys in his care in North Wales.

    • David Spens QC leading Paul Raudnitz was instructed to represent an ex-commando who was accused of murdering an 83-year-old.

    • David Spens QC represented a philanthropist accused of sexual abuse of a female in three different countries.

    • David Spens QC represented a young woman who suffocated her two-month-old child to death.

    News

    Articles