“Majestic” Chambers UK

 ‘A tactically brilliant silk.’ The Legal 500

‘A brilliant cross-examiner with an instinctive feel for the right approach in every case.’  The Legal 500

Details of practice

Recognised for many years as of one of the foremost barristers in his area, Alisdair practises in serious crime and professional discipline. He is well-known as specialist defence counsel in homicide, fraud, and difficult, complex sexual offences. He has acted in many very high profile cases, including the successful defence of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell. He is a former Times Lawyer of the Week and also practises in professional disciplinary tribunals, inquests, and licensing.

Alisdair is currently instructed to defend in a claim of professional negligence against solicitors in the high profile case of footballer Ched Evans following his acquittal of rape charges, subsequent to his conviction and appeals. He is instructed to defend a high profile solicitor before the SDT in allegations of sexual misconduct. He has just successfully represented one of the lead officers in the police discipline case arising from the death of Sean Rigg. (Click here to read the article from the BBC). He is also instructed in cases of murder, money laundering, and fraud around the country.

He has a successful appellate practice in both the Court of Appeal, where he is asked to take over cases in which he was not previously instructed, and in the form of judicial review.

He is ranked in Chambers UK and The Legal 500.

Fraud and corruption

Alisdair has been at the forefront of fraud work throughout his practice. Whether it has been advising in high-profile cases, strategic management of crises to prevent litigation, or representing high net worth individuals at every stage of the criminal process, Alisdair’s experience and expertise is in constant demand. He has defended in a variety of VAT, missing trader, income tax and regulatory frauds. His background degree in economics enables him to master the financial details and nuances. Solicitors and lay clients value his approachable style and analytic ability.

Alisdair has extensive defence experience of tax evasion, missing trader and other VAT frauds, frauds on public bodies such as the NHS, and frauds in the obtaining of contracts from government departments.


Alisdair is heavily sought after as leading counsel for the defence in allegations of murder. He has experience of the successful defence of very young defendants, gang crime, and loss of control manslaughter cases. He is currently instructed in murder cases around the country.

Professional discipline

Alisdair has widespread experience defending senior police officers in allegations of corruption. He has allied experience of judicial review proceedings, and among other claims and cases, he appeared for the successful defendants in the leading case on judicial review of police conduct and disciplinary proceedings R (Chief Constable of the Derbyshire Constabulary) v The Police Appeals Tribunal (Green and Stewart – Interested Parties) [2012] EWHC 2280.

Alisdair has an enviable record in representing police officers in disciplinary hearings and before the Crown Courts and he well understands the unique pressures of these situations for his client.

Alisdair also acts for lawyers, doctors, and dentists before their professional disciplinary bodies. He has particular expertise in allegations of sexual misconduct against professionals.


Alisdair acts for operators and residents at all levels. He recently acted on appeal for a well-known South London nightclub against which review proceedings had been brought following crime and disorder. He was successful. Clients value his tenacity and diplomacy.

General Medical Council/General Dental Council

Alisdair acts for doctors and dental professionals before the disciplinary panels of the GMC and GDC.

Directory recommendations

‘A tactically brilliant silk.’ The Legal 500 2020: Police Law (defendant)

‘A brilliant cross-examiner with an instinctive feel for the right approach in every case.’ The Legal 500 2019: Crime

‘Technically brilliant – one of the very best.’ The Legal 500 2019: Police Law

“So personable, with a sharp legal mind and a great manner with instructing solicitors and clients.” Chambers UK 2018: Crime

“He has a fantastic manner. His witness handling is outstanding.” Chambers UK 2018: Professional Discipline

“A majestic practitioner.” Chambers UK 2017: Crime

“A leading barrister in defending rape cases – calm, measured and a brilliant cross-examiner.” The Legal 500 2017: Crime

‘His quality of advocacy in cross-examination is of the first order.’ ‘Always the first choice for defendants facing allegations of rape or sexual assault.’ ‘He’s got a very reassuring manner with clients and an excellent jury manner.’ Chambers UK 2017: Crime

‘He’s very good at getting his head around a case quickly, and from there he makes the right strategic calls.’ ‘A highly experienced, unflappable advocate, he’s always calm and able to think on his feet.’ Chambers UK 2017: Professional Discipline

‘Unflappable and good at dealing with challenging clients.’ The Legal 500 2016: Crime

“He receives attention for the quality of his client care and for his abilities in cross-examination. “He is very thorough in his preparation of cases and is very good with clients, including potentially difficult ones.” “He is an absolute master of the art of cross-examination. He has an ability to deal with everyone, from clients to solicitors and judges.” Chambers UK 2016: Crime

‘He is a brilliant cross-examiner and an excellent jury advocate.’ ‘He’s very understated, but he’s an experienced tactician and very good at making clients feel comfortable.’ ‘He is very good with all aspects of the process. He grasps what the client needs and what the strong points of the defence are, and liaises with the police well.’ Chambers UK 2015: Crime

“He is a brilliant cross-examiner and a compelling advocate.” “He is energetic, highly effective and a pleasure to deal with.” Chambers UK 2014: Crime

“very tough and knows what he is talking about” … “plays well to the jury and has that bearing that juries expect of a senior advocate”. Chambers UK 2013: Crime

“a great presence at the Criminal Bar, with a strong reputation for handling murders and sexual offences.” Chambers UK 2012: Crime

“A highly expert cross-examiner who has dealt with a number of cases of great seriousness.” Chambers UK 2011: Crime

Education/professional qualifications

MA (Oxon) – Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Open Exhibitioner)
Dip Law (City) with Commendation
Called to the Bar 1994 (Astbury Scholar)

Other information

Professional memberships:

The Criminal Bar Association
The Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers
Fraud Lawyers Association
South Eastern Circuit
Criminal Bar Association Working Party on section 41 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act

Undertakes work for the Bar Council Pro Bono Unit
Pro Bono Privy Council work

Direct access

Alisdair Williamson 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.