William Hughes QC

William Hughes KC

‘Calm and laid-back but still razor sharp, he’s like a silent assassin –
he pounces on things when you least expect it.’

Chambers and Partners (2024)

William Hughes KC

‘Calm and laid-back but still razor sharp, he’s like a silent assassin – he pounces on things when you least expect it.’

Chambers and Partners (2024)



BSc (Hons) Law and Chemistry – Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montford University)
BVC (Inns of Court School of Law)

Appointments and Memberships

Member of South Eastern Circuit

Member of Wales and Chester Circuit

Vice-Chair of Association of London Welsh Lawyers

Previous Chair of the Kent Bar Mess

Former Recorder of the South Eastern Circuit (2004-2006) (Elected)

Former South Eastern Circuit Executive Committee (2004-2009) & (2016 to 2020)

Former Director of Education South Eastern Circuit

Committee Member of the Criminal Bar Association (Elected Committee Member 2007-2010)

Former Trustee, Ex-Secretary and Ex-Treasurer of the Criminal Bar Association’s Kalisher Scholarship Trust

Former Committee Member Fraud Lawyers Association

Gray’s Inn Advocacy Trainer

Legal 500 - Leading Silk

Overview of Practice

William Hughes is a criminal law specialist with a mixed Prosecution and Defence practice.

In Silk, William is consistently instructed to Prosecute and Defend in high-profile cases of complexity, notoriety and sensitivity, including Homicide, Organised Crime Groups, Serious Sexual Offences and Historic Child Abuse Investigations, Serious Fraud and Financial Crime. William is also regularly instructed to advise Companies, as well as Company Directors and Officers with regard to Criminal and Regulatory matters.

William appears regularity in Appellate Courts, including historic matters referred by the CCRC for both Appellants and the Respondents.

William was regularly instructed in respect of Regulatory and Disciplinary Tribunals, Coroner’s Inquests and by Local Government Departments whilst a junior. He continues to be instructed in similar matters in Silk.

Additionally, William has appeared in a number of television documentaries, including ‘My Killer, My lover’ (S1 Ep2) (R v Morgan) which reached number 2 on Netflix trending in late 2021. William has also been interviewed by LRN (Formerly CNN2) in the USA with regard to another documentary (‘Murderous Millionaire’) about the same case.

In 2022, William was one of the subjects of an in-depth analysis of the ‘Colston Four’ trial by the New Statesman magazine.


William is recommended as a leading individual of the newly published edition of the Legal 500 UK 2023, describing him as

“Very good in terms of strategy and oversight, and someone who shows great attention to detail.”

William has previously been described in the Legal 500 as

“a gentleman of great talents, and never fails to impress his instructing solicitor or client. He slowly, but calmly chips away at the case with impressive results. He is a very safe pair of hands, and has a wealth of experience. Since taking Silk his advocacy has continued to galvanise all parties involved in a case. He defends and prosecutes with equal prowess and is a pleasure to work with.”

 William is ranked as a leading individual in the Crime section of Chambers & Partners UK Bar since 2014. In the 2023 edition he is described as

‘William is considered by those at the top of the profession as an absolute Rolls Royce in the rank of Silk.’

 And in previous editions

‘He handles a wide range of serious criminal offences, particularly drugs-related cases, and is noted for his excellent client manner.

 “He gets superb results”.’

 “Very Impressive”

‘William is a measured defence advocate who juries love. He is very experienced.’
Legal 500 (2024)
‘Calm and laid-back but still razor sharp, he’s like a silent assassin – he pounces on things when you least expect it.’
Chambers and Partners (2024)
‘His advocacy is velvet-like – he projects a soft authority and a likeability which work to his advantage.’
Chambers and Partners (2024)

Practice Areas


In Silk, William has primarily represented Defendants charged with Homicide and Serious Violent Crime, Historic Sexual Offences and other grave crime, particularly those cases with vulnerable defendants and witnesses.

William has continued to be instructed in Serious Fraud in which he specialised as a Junior, including VAT and Revenue fraud, fraudulent trading, money laundering and related confiscation proceedings. William regularly advises Companies, their Directors and Officers with regard to Criminal and Regulatory matters, most recently in respect of an overseas Company threatened with Criminal Proceedings in the UK. As a result of Williams advice and input, the proceedings were discontinued.

William has extensive experience of defending drug related crime, and resultant drug trafficking and CJA, DTA and POCA confiscation proceedings


In Silk, William is consistently instructed by CPS “Countrywide”, particulary in South Wales, to prosecute those cases of a sensitive and complex nature, particularly Homicide and Historic Abuse of Children (Operation Pallial).

William has continued to be instructed in the Prosecution of Multi-defendant Organised Crime Gangs (OCG) by the Organised Crime Division , Central Fraud Group and Serious Fraud Division.

William is regularly instructed to represent the Crown in CCRC referred appeals, particularly those of a sensitive and complex nature.

As a Junior William was appointed to the A list of the Attorney General’s list of Prosecution Counsel.  William has vast experience of Serious and Complex Fraud, including several Carousel VAT prosecutions, Income Tax and Duty Evasions.

William also has wide experience in International drug prosecutions, including related POCA, DTA civil and criminal legislation, as well as extensive experience of PII and Disclosure in complex investigations, both as Silk, and as a Junior (often as Disclosure Counsel).

Notable cases


R v CC – Isleworth Crown Court (September – November 2022) Manslaughter, Perverting course of justice, Possession of Firearms with intent to endanger life (leading Gabriella Lewis) (representation of First Defendant in friendly fire killing with Sub Machine Gun; in preparation for alleged drive-by shooting)

Previous Defence Cases

R v SE –Swansea CC (March – May 2022) Swansea CC –  successful defence in multi-defendant conspiracy to supply Class A drugs allegation in which ‘Encrochat’ phone evidence was central to the Prosecution case.

R v Strickland & Others – Merthyr CC – (January – February 2022 –  representation of main defendant in notorious homophobic murder of a Consultant Psychiatrist in Bute Park Cardiff by three attackers including William’s client.






R v EI – Murder – Central Criminal Court Sept/Oct 2021 (leading Szilvia Booker) ­– successful acquittal in multi-defendant South London ‘post-code’ murder

Donnell Rhule: Cousins found guilty of West Dulwich murder – BBC News

R v JJ Philips ­– Successful Murder defence – Cardiff Crown Court June/July 2019. William secured Mr Philips’ acquittal of murder after a 4-week trial at Cardiff Crown Court. Mr Phillips was convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter.



R v JJ –  Successful defence of Historic Sexual abuse, Neglect by Foster Parents – Aylesbury Crown Court March 2019

R v Liam Turner  – Reading Crown Court January 2019: murder – the sole issue being whether at the time of the killing Mr Turner’s mental impairment was such as to afford him the partial defence to murder of Diminished Responsibility due to abnormality of his mental functioning. Eight Psychiatrists who gave conflicting medical opinions as to Mr Turner’s mental health at the time of the killing.


R v Liam Turner [2019] EWCA 1300  – Successful appeal against sentence

R v Onofeghare – Successful murder defence, June 2018 Hove Crown Court. A “county lines” murder, with background in the dealing of Class A drugs

R v STAttempted Murder – June/July 2017 Cardiff Crown Court

R v BInternet Grooming – September 2017 Wood Green Crown Court

R v JC – Isleworth March – August 2016 (Silk alone) – Successful Defence and representation of Business man of good character charged with Cheating the Revenue (VAT fraud) over many years. Matter eventually dealt with by Civil COP9 proceedings

Ali (and Charlton) v R – February 2016 Court of Appeal –CCRC referred appeal against Idris Ali’s manslaughter conviction arising from the notorious murder of 15 year old runaway Karen Price (“Little Miss Nobody”) in Cardiff in the early 1980s. Appeal based on alleged malpractice of South Wales Police in 1980s and 1990s, and extensive scrutiny of related SWP miscarriage of justice cases from same period (National Press and TV coverage)

CCA Judgment 8th March 2016 [2016] EWCA Crim 52



R v AM – Kingston January/February 2016 (Silk alone) – Successful Defence of Business owner of Good Character charged with unlawfully wounding his business partner

R v GW Reading September 2016 (Silk alone) – Representation of Grandfather charged with recent and historic sexual abuse of family members

R v SC – Canterbury January – June 2015 (Silk alone) – Defence of father from Religious Minority charged with “Honour” Assaults and Neglect of family member

R v Eve – Guildford – May/June 2015 (Silk alone) Defence of multi-complainant historic sexual allegations over 30 year period (Local press coverage)

R v Koshin – Central Criminal Court March/April 2015 – (Silk leading) Defence of 17 year old charged with Murder in multi-handed gang killing (cut throat defence) – (Local TV and National Publicity)

R v LI – Central Criminal Court October/November 2014 – (Silk Leading) Successful defence of 17 year old charged with Murder in multi-handed killing on West London Estate. (Local TV and National publicity)

R v Pillay & Others – Luton Crown Court – July/August 2014 and Court of Appeal, May 2015 (Silk Leading) Defence of gunman hired in “Muslim Love Triangle Shooting”. Cut throat defence. (National TV and Press coverage, including Crimewatch)

R v Rudder & Others – Hove Crown Court – January/April 2014 – (Silk leading) – Successful defence of female defendant charged with murder and high value burglaries by gang operating in South East England (Local and National publicity – “The Sussex Antique Murder”)

R v Florowski & Another – Central Criminal Court 2013. (Silk leading) Murder, attempted murder and arson by foreign national. (Local and National publicity).

R v Weinreb – Wood Green 2013. (Silk alone) Successful defence of attempted murder and GBH (local press coverage).


R v A-K, J & M Reading CC – January 2023 – Drug gang related Murder

R V EM – Swansea CC – November 2022 – Murder and GBH of two vulnerable victims

Previous Prosecution Cases

R v Lewis Haines – May/August 2022

‘Newton’ hearing in respect of the unprovoked and tragic murder of 18 year old Lily Sullivan in Pembroke, West Wales just before Christmas 2021. The defendant, having eventually pleaded guilty to murder, contested that the murder had a sexual element. The Court found that the murder was sexually motived. Local and National publicity, and TV coverage

Lily Sullivan: Murderer Lewis Haines jailed minimum 23 years – BBC News

Man, 31, sentenced for ‘evil’ murder of teenager Lily Sullivan | Wales | The Guardian

Man, 31, strangled and dumped teenager Lily Sullivan in a pond in Wales, judge rules | UK News | Sky News

R v Harrison Swansea CC – June/August 2022

In this tragic case, the defendant was found to be suffering from paranoid -schizophrenia  at the time he killed his father. On the day of the attack on his father, the defendant escaped from the mental health ward at Neath & Port Talbot Hospital and attended his parents’ home in Clydach, Swansea. His father allowed him access to the premises and was immediately attacked by his son. The fatal injuries received led to Dr Harrison’s death one month later. After hearing the psychiatric evidence, HHJ Thomas QC sentenced the Defendant to a s37 Mental Health Act 1983 Hospital Order, with restriction pursuant to s41 Mental Health Act. Local and National publicity.

Clydach: Man killed his father after escaping mental health unit – BBC News
Mentally ill son killed his father after escaping from ward in ‘utterly tragic case’ | ITV News Wales

Man dies after suffering serious injuries in incident in Clydach – Wales Online

R v ER – Winchester CC – May/July 2022 & November 2022

Prosecution of a Pedophile for rapes and sexual assaults of four young girls and teenagers over a period of two years. Defendant sentenced to 25 years imprisonment with a 4 year extended sentence

R v Masum Cardiff CC – February/March 2022

Prosecution of a serving South Wales Police officer for two offences of perverting the course of justice and one of securing unauthorised access to computer material. The Prosecution alleged the Defendant  made false and untruthful  reports to ‘Crimestoppers’ anonymously in respect of a former female acquaintance and her associates. Local and National publicity and TV coverage




‘The Colston Four’ Prosecution – The Toppling of the Edward Colston Statue in Bristol – Bristol CC ­– December 2021-January 2022 R v S, W,  RN, & S – One of the most notorious cases of the last few years. William appeared as leading Prosecution Counsel.

William prosecuted the trial of four defendants nicknamed ‘the Colston four’ at Bristol Crown Court before HHJ Blair QC.  The Prosecution case was that the statue of Edward Colston a 17th century slaver and philanthropist, was pulled down and ultimately thrown into Bristol Harbour, by a small number of individuals, including the four defendants on trial as a peaceful Black Lives Matter march simultaneously took place in Bristol on 7th June 2020.

The case involved complex and complicated legal principles, in particular the application of Human Rights law to the offence of criminal damage and the right to peaceful protest.

How the trial of the Colston Four was won: the inside story – New Statesman




Op Surging  – Southwark CC – September – November 2021 Prosecution of an Organised Criminal Gang in three separate trials  in relation to a 25 million pound money laundering enterprise. Mulitple “shell” companies were formed by their Directors and the proceeds of crime laundered through their bank accounts by gang members.

William, leading Ini Udom of 5 St Andrews Hill, prosecuted a total of three trials from autumn 2019 to the summer of 2021 in respect of an HMRC investigation known as Operation Surging. William was involved the case at an early stage, which dated back to 2013-2014. William advised on all aspects of this large and complex case.

It was the Prosecution case that a UK-wide network of shell companies were created by the organisers of the fraud through which the proceeds of non-duty paid alcohol, that had been smuggled from continental Europe, were laundered. The case was exceedingly complex and wide-ranging, involving a labyrinthine network of ‘shell’ companies created specifically for laundering the proceeds of crime. These companies were used to transfer the laundered funds through further companies with complex financial histories in order to present a veneer of legitimacy. A total of 24 individuals faced money laundering charges as a result of the investigation.

Op Carlton –  R v Andrew Jones Swansea Crown Court September – October 2020

Murder Prosecution in which it is alleged Defendant murdered his wife  lover by luring him to a secluded farm on the outskirts of Carmarthen, West Wales and then shooting him in  an ambush  with a powerful rifle and then disposing of his body by burning Considerable National and Local publicity. Defendant convicted and sentenced to Life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years. Local and National publicity and TV coverage

Subject of an ITV documentary ‘No Body Recovered’.







R v Hughes & Cunnion – Murder prosecution, Hove Crown Court May 2018. Knife killing. Young defendants and victim.

R v Younis – Birmingham Crown Court November 2017 & January 2018 – 2 x attempted murder allegations with Organised Crime, cross-border and international elements.

Operation Solo – R v Wallis & Others Newport Crown Court July- August 2017 & November 2017 Multi-defendant Murder and Perverting Course of Justice Prosecution resulting from murder of Polish National in Newport in January 2017

R v Seeney – Birmingham Crown Court – May 2017 (Silk alone) – Prosecution of Kidnap and Manslaughter

Jeanette Burke v R – Court of Appeal February 2017 (Silk alone) – Acted for the Respondents in CCRC referred historic drugs conviction


R v Morgan – Newport Crown Court – November- December 2016 (Silk leading Michael Hammett of 9 Park Place) Prosecution of the Millionaire “Escort-Murderer”, described by the national press as “one of the most notorious murders of 2016”. Defendant unsuccessfully relied upon the partial murder defences of Diminished Responsibility and Loss of Control.

Peter David Morgan [2018] EWCA Crim 594; [2019] 4 WLR 34

The Court of Appeal confirmed, in the Defendant’s unsuccessful appeal against sentence that “Other weapon” in Criminal Justice Act 2003, Schedule 21 para 5A (2),, included the self-made ligature used by Morgan to kill Georgina Symonds.

Court of Appeal – April 2018




http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/millionaire-killed-call-girl-lover-after-bugging-her-phone-8j5g92pjp ‘Murderous Millionaire’.” (Series 1 Episode 4) on 1st March 2020

See also Media Appearances and Appellate

R v Pike – Cardiff Crown Court – September 2016. (Silk Leading) Prosecution of Drug related murder


Operation Beta – Birmingham Crown Court June – September 2016 (Silk Leading) Prosecution of Organised Crime Gangs  resultant from a major West Midlands Police investigation into Class A drugs supply throughout the Midlands and Countrywide. All fourteen defendants charged convicted of offences including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, Possession of Firearms and Ammunition.


R v Squelch– Canterbury Crown Court March 2016 – Silk Alone. Murder in workplace (National, Local Press and TV)



Court of Appeal February 2017 – appeal against conviction dismissed – (issue Diminished responsibility post R v Brennan)

R v Davies and Davies – Chester Crown Court February/March 2016 (Silk leading) – Prosecution of two defendants for historic Child Abuse arising from Operation Palliall, the largest investigation into historic abuse in North Wales Children’s homes in the 70s and 80s (National Press and TV coverage)


R v Rowe – Canterbury Crown Court January/February 2015 (Silk Alone) Prosecution of Margate Pensioner Murder (Local Press and TV coverage)

R v Ineomo & Others Kingston Crown Court, 2013. (Silk alone) Prosecution of multi-defendant long-term VAT reclaim fraud.

As Junior Counsel

R v Jones – Chichester Crown Court, 2012. Prosecution of predatory paedophile. Historic sexual abuse of a pair of adolescent brothers (one with learning difficulties) over decades.

R v Koli – Southwark Court of Criminal Appeal, 2012. First UK prosecution of a breach Serious Crime Prevention Order. Guideline case with regard to sentence.

Op Rust & Stag – 2011. Disclosure counsel in Evasion and Bonded warehouse frauds.

R v Harries & Others – Canterbury Crown Court, 2011. (Leading) Prosecution of Pan-European criminal gang responsible for importing substantial quantities of prohibited drugs. Significant involvement of international investigative agencies.

R v Baybasin –  Woolwich Crown Court, October 2010. (First Junior in Silk led team of 3) Prosecution of the “Godfather” of the Turkish “Mafia”, responsible for importing 90% of all Heroin into the UK. (International media coverage).

Westminster City Council v Makowski – Central Criminal Court, 2010. Prosecution of Rogue Trader locksmith. Advised multiple Trading Standards Agencies (Scambusters) from pre-charge stage. Multiple vulnerable complainants (Media interest, including an entire edition of BBC TV’s “Watchdog”).

R v McGuffie, Weekes and others – Kingston Crown Court, 2010 and April 2016. (Leading – 3 trials and subsequent confiscation). Prosecution of International Criminal gang in respect of drug importation business. Involvement of multiple international investigate agencies.

R v Van Helsdingen and Lowe – Kingston Crown Court, 2009. Prosecution of multi-agency of large scale South African passport fraud. (Case included the first use of restricted use undertaking per SOCPA.) (National & International publicity).

R v Chohan and others (Op Develop) – Birmingham Crown Court, 2004-2008. 1st Prosecution junior in 3 related multi-defendant trials; 

. £1/2 million Excise fraud; £100 million MTIC VAT fraud; Laundering (prosecution of professional man (AN) and his sister, wife of first defendant for laundering).

CCA ref R v S Chohan [2007] EWCA Crim 3175

(£28 million confiscation order obtained against defendant fleeing jurisdiction. Also dealt with all other aspects of confiscation.) (National publicity – main defendant remains SOCA top ten most wanted).

R v Uddin and others (Operation Venison) – Southwark Crown Court, 2002-2004. Prosecution junior in then largest ever (£125 million) MTIC VAT fraud. (National publicity & TV coverage)

Magson v R, CCA  November 2019

Emma Magson was convicted of the murder of her partner at Leicester Crown Court in November 2016 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17 years.  On 10th December 2019, the Court of Appeal heard Miss Magson’s Appeal against conviction on the basis that new evidence supporting the partial defence to murder of Diminished Responsibility, which was not relied upon at her original trial, meant that her conviction was unsafe. The Appellant seeks to rely on a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Pervasive Development Disorder

William, who did not appear in the original trial, appeared for the Respondent.  Among the issues argued at the hearing was whether the “new” evidence being sought to be relied upon by the Appellant pursuant to s23 (2) Criminal Appeal Act 1968, could and should have been led at the original trial. During the hearing before Fulford LJ VP, Davis J and Johnson J, two psychiatrists who reported on the Appellant at the time of her original trial, gave evidence and were cross-examined.

The case has attracted a great deal of publicity, in part due to the support for the Appellant by the campaign group Women For Justice. The Court has reserved judgment.


Turner v R, CCA 9th July 2019

On 9th July 2019, before Davis LJ, Warby J and HHJ Patton, successful appeal of  Liam Turner’s sentence of Life Imprisonment with a minimum term of 16 years was manifestly excessive. In allowing the appeal, the minimum term was reduced to 15 years.

In February 2019, Liam Turner was convicted of murder following a trial at Reading Crown Court. The sole issue was whether at the time of the killing Mr Turner’s mental impairment was such as to afford him the partial defence to murder of Diminished Responsibility due to abnormality of his mental functioning. During the trial the Court heard from a total of eight Psychiatrists who gave conflicting medical opinions as to Mr Turner’s mental health at the time of the killing.

When passing sentence for murder, the trial Judge gave a reduction in sentence for the early indication that the killing was not disputed of about 7% (1 year). In Grounds of Appeal it was submitted on behalf of Mr Turner that insufficient credit had been afforded by the sentencing Judge for the early indication. The Court of Appeal agreed, the judgment handed down by Davis LJ indicating that the Sentencing Council Guideline of 1st June 2017 at paragraph F1 should be followed, namely that where an  early indication is given that the fact of the killing is not disputed, then maximum credit should be afforded on sentence (depending on the facts of the case),  per Sir Brian Leveson P in Markham & Edwards [2017] EWCA Crim 739

Gareth William Jones v R [2018] EWCA Crim 2816

CCRC referred historic conviction of former care worker convicted of sexual activity with a person with mental disability. William, who did not appear in the original trial, was instructed for the Respondent. Court permitted fresh psychological and psychiatric evidence to be called including that relating to the Appellants learning difficulties and its impact on the original trial process and . The Appeal was allowed the appeal given the highly unusual circumstances of the case

Peter David Morgan [2018] EWCA Crim 594; [2019] 4 WLR 34

The Court of Appeal confirmed, in the Defendant’s unsuccessful appeal against sentence that “Other weapon” in Criminal Justice Act 2003, Schedule 21 para 5A (2), included the self-made ligature used by Morgan to kill Georgina Symonds.

R v Squelch [2017] EWCA Crim 204

Appeal against murder conviction dismissed. Among the issues raised on appeal were whether the appellant’s mental state was substantially impaired at the time of the killing, so effecting his ability to form a rational judgment.

Ali (and Charlton) v R – February 2016 Court of Appeal [2016] EWCA Crim 52

CCRC referred appeal against Idris Ali’s manslaughter conviction arising from the notorious murder of 15 year old runaway Karen Price (“Little Miss Nobody”) in Cardiff in the early 1980s, leading Heath Edwards of 9 Park Place. Appeal based on alleged malpractice of South Wales Police in 1980s and 1990s, and extensive scrutiny of related SWP miscarriage of justice cases (Lynette White murder/Cardiff 3, the Newsagent Philip Saunders’ murder/O’Brian, Hall & Sherwood) from same period (National Press and TV coverage)

Re Michael Melchert – Chelsea Coroner’s Court, 2012. Acted for landlords of “ramshackle” premises in which deceased was killed in fatal fire.

Re Frank Ogburu – Southwark Coroner’s Court, 2010. Acted on behalf of 4 police officers in a “death in custody”. An African man, restrained post arrest, died at the hands of four police officers in a culturally diverse area of London. Complex medical and factual issues. (National press coverage)

Re Ricky Bishop [Deceased] – Southwark Coroner’s Court, June-July 2003. Acted on behalf of six police officers in death in custody inquest. (National press coverage).

On 21st March 2020, William appeared in the Sky Crime broadcast Killer Lovers, “Murderous Millionaire” (series 1 episode 4- Available to Sky subscribers here). William appeared in the programme giving first-hand insight into the case, having prosecuted to conviction the murderer Peter Morgan at Newport Crown Court in December 2016. This was a fascinating but ultimately tragic case in which former burlesque dancer turned escort, 25-year-old Georgina Symonds, was ruthlessly killed by her jealous former lover, the millionaire Peter Morgan.

This is the second programme on the murder of Georgina Symonds that William has appeared in, the other being “10 Steps to Murder”, broadcast on Quest Red in November 2019.

In April 2019 William was interviewed live by the US TV Station HLN (formerly CNN2) about the Peter Morgan “10 Steps to Murder programme”