Richard Horwell  QC

Richard Horwell QC

Call: 1976 QC: 2006
3 Raymond Buildings
Gray's Inn
London WC1R 5BH
+44 (0)20 7400 6400

Details of practice

Richard Horwell's practice encompasses all aspects of the criminal law in both this jurisdiction and Strasbourg with particular experience in commercial fraud, drug importations, terrorism and murder trials.  He has also appeared before tribunals including the GMC and RAC Motorsport.  His public law experience includes inquests and advising on the legality of entry and search warrants and arrest.

Before 2006 his practice was necessarily prosecution led by virtue of his appointment to Treasury Counsel in 1991.  He was appointed Senior Treasury Counsel in 1996 (an appointment considered equivalent to Silk) and was appointed First Senior Treasury Counsel in 2002, a position he held until taking Silk in 2006, during which time he was often instructed to advise on the construction of statutes, sentencing and prosecution policy; consistently instructed in the most complex and high profile cases; and often advising on and representing the Crown in matters of national security.  Since taking Silk he has successfully reversed the weight of his practice between defence and prosecution; his practice is now almost exclusively for the defence barring instructions from the Financial Services Authority. 

As a Silk his practice has centred on high profile criminal trials for the defence and financial crime including pre-charge advice to companies and individuals who are the subject of investigations.  During this time he has been instructed by BCL Burton Copeland, Clifford Chance, Corker Binning, Herbert Smith, Russell Jones & Walker, Slaughter and May and Field Fisher Waterhouse amongst others.

He has particular experience and interest in appellate work.  He has been instructed in over 300 appeal cases, including Attorney General References.  He has appeared in the consolidated appeals re 'baby shaking' and is currently instructed on behalf of Jeremy Bamber.

Directory recommendations

‘He is one of the top QCs in general crime and has huge amounts of experience and skills which he brings to cases’.  ‘Has notable expertise in cases that straddle the divide between criminal law and human rights.’ Chambers UK 2015: Crime

‘An extremely wise and experienced advocate.’ Chambers UK 2015: Inquests

‘He has the ability to talk about something which is fairly complex in a way that everyone can understand.’ Chambers UK 2015: Financial Crime

‘Experienced in public inquests’ The Legal 500 2014: Administrative & Public & Law

‘His ability on the defence side is hard to match.’ The Legal 500 2014: Crime

‘A superb barrister.’ The Legal 500 2014: Fraud

"Extremely experienced barrister" Richard Horwell QC's "knowledge of the law is vast, and his ability to apply it is undoubted."  His practice covers all criminal law matters and he is a veteran of handling cases that go all the way to Strasbourg. Commercial fraud, terrorism and murder all figure prominently in his caseload, and he is noted for the strength of his appellate practice.  In the case of Overmeer he successfully defended a Brazilian national accused of the attempted murder of his girlfriend.  Chambers UK 2013:  Crime

The "excellent" Richard Horwell QC has a broad criminal practice, with a substantial fraud element to it.  Solicitors comment that "he's so good in front of a jury because he has that gravitas that comes with years of experience."  Recently, he dealt with a restraint order imposed on the UK assets of a Brazilian hedge fund following a Brazilian fraud investigationChambers UK 2013:  Fraud

"A significant track record in appellate cases" The Legal 500 2011 Crime

"An exceptionally talented counsel with a huge breadth of experience" The Legal 500 2011 Fraud: Criminal

"Methodical and thorough" The Legal 500 2011:  Public and Administrative Law

"Richard Horwell QC is applauded for his broad commercial fraud practice and his expertise in relation to multi-jurisdictional matters." Chambers UK 2011: Fraud

"Richard Horwell QC has a stellar commercial fraud practice and is particularly experienced at advising on multi-jurisdictional issues" Chambers UK 2010

"The impressive Richard Horwell" is "a barrister long admired for his poise and precision" Chambers UK 2009

Education/professional qualifications

Called 1976


Bencher of Gray's Inn
Appointed Treasury Counsel 1991
Senior Treasury Counsel 1996 - 2006
First Senior Treasury Counsel 2002 - 2006
Appointed a Recorder 2004
Queen's Counsel 2006

Direct access

Richard Horwell QC is qualified to accept instructions direct from clients under the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme. This means that members of the public who seek specialist advice can come direct to him. In addition, he welcomes instructions from solicitors, in-house law departments, qualified foreign lawyers, and clients licensed by the Bar Council to give instructions direct to barristers under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Scheme. 

 For further information please contact our Clerks.

Notable cases

Fraud/financial crime

Instructed by solicitors registered in the Cayman Islands to advise large investment company ($500 million Hedge Fund) registered in the British Virgin Islands. Multi-jurisdictional issues relating to BVI, Brazillian and European law.

Gangar and White: Counsel for the director of an investment company prosecuted by the SFO in a £140m Ponzi fraud and the corruption of a US prosecutor.

Instructed on behalf of a director arrested by the SFO in its investigation into payments made by BAE.

Advised the FSA re Insider dealing.

Instructed on behalf of a solicitor charged with a land registration fraud.

Advised regarding the SFO's investigations re "Oil for Food".

Advised a company director under SFO investigation for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Instructed on behalf of a company director charged with money laundering.

R v P:  Represented a former Deputy Headmaster at a famous English school indicted on five counts of indecent assault going back 30 to 45 years.  After submissions lasting two days the proceedings were stayed as an abuse of the process.  Inadequacies in the police investigation were highlighted.


Counsel for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. The Guardian in 2008 reported that:  "Horwell was the only barrister to enhance his reputation at the inquests with a series of devastating cross-examinations of key witnesses, including Fayed and his head of security, John Macnamara, which fully exposed the weaknesses of their allegations."

Counsel for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Counsel for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.

Continuing to advise ACPO and the Metropolitan Police Service on the implementation and development of the post-Stockwell changes.

Advised ACPO on the drafting of part of the "Police Use of Firearms Manual".

Gave presentations in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Perth for the Australian Federal Police on the lessons learnt from Stockwell and the need to record decisions and their rationale.

Advised Avon and Somerset Constabulary on the legality of an entry and search warrant.

Counsel for "G" (7 October 2011) who challenged and successfully quashed an entry and search warrant which the Administrative Court described as  "casual and slipshod".


P:  Represented the Deputy Head Master of a famous school charged with historic sexual abuse of pupils.  Prosecution stayed as an abuse of the process of the court. 

R:  Represented a lawyer charged with the historic sexual abuse of a child.  The defence highlighted the inadequate investigation and eventually the prosecution offered no evidence. 

Jones:  Represented a businessman charged with money laundering.  After long negotiations the prosecution offered no evidence.

Dusan:  Importation of drugs

Bailey:  Counsel for the defendant in the "N'Dubz" GBH trial.

Ingoldsby:  Counsel for the son of an international businessman charged with murder.

Booker:  Counsel for an appellant in an appeal against conviction for supplying drugs and instructed in the re-trial.

Advised the Managing Director of a Jersey based Trust Company in connection with charges of forgery and perverting the course of justice.

Representing Jeremy Bamber following the appeal against sentence and the application to the European Court of Human Rights as to whether the imposition of an irreducible life sentence amounts to a violation of Article 3.

Represented a Brazilian national who was charged with attempted murder after he had stabbed his girlfriend. Found not guilty by reason of insanity. Apart from the preparation of the psychiatric defence, also advised on issues concerning immigration and the Mental Health Act.

Aslan:  Prosecuted a Turkish man with mental health issues who was found guilty of the murder of a 15 year old schoolboy.

Prior to taking silk

Instructed by the Serious Fraud Office in Grob and Posgate; Guinness; and advisory work in respect of other investigations.

Represented the managing director of MTM who had been charged by the Serious Fraud Office.

The Security Express robbery: Ronnie Knight, Freddie Foreman and others - then the largest cash robbery in British history.

Various IRA trials including: the plot to assassinate the Prime Minister; the Stoke Newington lorry bomb; the Heathrow mortar bomb attacks; and the conspiracy to obtain munitions from Iraq - this involved an operation which covered five other jurisdictions

Badat: the terrorist who trained with Richard Reid and who conspired to bring down a passenger aircraft when in flight.

Trooper Williams: instructed after this British soldier had been charged with the murder of a citizen in Iraq.

Regan, Horncy and Rees: the murder of three generations of the Chohan family. The longest and most complex murder case to have been tried at the Old Bailey.

Harris, Rock, Cherry and Faulder: the consolidated appeals in which the Court of Appeal reviewed the medical evidence and hypotheses surrounding "shaken baby syndrome".

Smith: the murder of school girl Toni-Ann Byfield.

Hanson and White: the murder of the banker John Monckton.

Nelson: the murder of PC Patrick Dunne and William Danso.

Gonzalez: the London and south coast serial killer.

Carty and Brown: the murder of the solicitor Tom ap Rhys Pyrce.

Instructed on behalf of a group of directors who were considered for prosecution by the SFO in the investigation into price fixing in the pharmaceutical industry.