William Hughes QC

William Hughes KC

‘Calm, understanding and exceptionally good at putting clients at ease.’

Chambers & Partners (2022)



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

Appointments and Memberships

Previous Chairman of the Kent Bar Mess
Former Recorder of the South Eastern Circuit (2004 – 2006) (Elected)
SEC Executive Committee (2004 – 2009) & (2016 to present)
Director of Education SEC
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
Executive Committee Member Association of London Welsh Lawyers
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 cases of complexity and notoriety, including Homicide, Organised Crime, Serious Sexual Offences and Historic Child Abuse Investigations, and Serious Fraud.

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

In addition to the above, as a Junior, William was regularly instructed in respect of Regulatory and Disciplinary Tribunals, Coroner’s Inquests and by Local Government Departments.


William is recommended as a leading individual of the newly published edition of the Legal 500 UK (2021), describing him 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 Hughes KC is ranked as a leading individual in the Crime section of Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2108, 2019 2020 and 2021. In the newest edition, he is described as

‘Very Impressive’

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’.

William is considered by those at the top of the profession as an absolute Rolls Royce in the rank of silk.’ Legal 500 (2023)

‘Calm, understanding and exceptionally good at putting clients at ease.’ Chambers & Partners (2022)

Practice Areas


Since taking 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 has extensive experience of defending drug-related crime, and resultant drug trafficking and CJA, DTA and POCA confiscation proceedings.


In Silk, 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 consistently instructed by CPS “Countrywide” to prosecute those cases of a sensitive and complex nature, including Homicide and Historic Abuse of Children (Operation Pallial).

He 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.

Wide experience in International drug prosecutions, including related POCA, DTA civil and criminal legislation.

Wide experience of PII and Disclosure in complex investigations, both as Silk and as a Junior (often as Disclosure Counsel).

As a Junior was regularly instructed on behalf of Westminster City Council, the City of London Corporation and other London local authorities to advise and represent their interests.

Notable cases


R v EI (Central Criminal Court, 2021) (leading Szilvia Booker – Murder

Previous Defence Cases

R v JJ Philips (Cardiff Crown Court, June/July 2019) – Successful Murder defence

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.

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

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.

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

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

R v ST (June/July 2017) – Attempted Murder.

R v B (September 2017) – Internet Grooming.

R v JC (Isleworth March, August 2016) (Silk alone) – Successful Defence and representation of Businessman of good character charged with Revenue Fraud over many years. Matter eventually dealt with by Civil COP9 proceedings.

Ali (and Charlton) v R (Court of Appeal, February 2016) – 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 time (National Press and TV coverage).

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

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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).

Junior Counsel

As Junior Counsel

R v Lopez (Central Criminal Court, 2013) – Gang-related, multi-handed GBH violent disorder (defendant the subject of cut-throat by all other co-defendants).

R v Tidy & Another (Reading, 2012) – Baby shaking and abuse by parents of young baby (National publicity).

R v Batchelor (Croydon, 2012) – Long term, high value VAT fraud (National Publicity).

R v McLaughlin (Reading, 2012) – Stranger rape. Defence of teenage boy with behavioural problems (ADHD).

R v Tran & Another (Luton Crown Court, 2011 – 2012 and The Court of Appeal) – Inland Revenue Fraud, money laundering and people trafficking. Extremely complicated case. Successful appeal of Sentence on starting point for credit afforded for guilty plea during trial.

R v Sexton and others (Reading Crown Court, October 2009) – Successful defence of defendant charged with conspiracies to rob (robberies of cash-handling security staff) and burglaries. (National publicity).

R v Dickson (Lewes Crown Court, October 2009) – Historic rape and sexual abuse of hospital inmate with borderline personality disorder by Nurse.
R v James and others (Southampton Crown Court, 2009) – Young defendant from the Travelling Community. Substantial media coverage, marking it out as one of the most infamous “Cowboy Builders” cases. Multiple elderly and/or vulnerable victims. Extensive legal argument (re multiple conspiracies), unsuccessful appeal to CCA by Crown of Judge’s terminatory ruling. (National TV & Press coverage).

R v P Rooney (2008) – Led Junior for defendant responsible for fatal M25 coach crash. (National publicity & TV coverage).

R v G Rooney (Reading Crown Court, 2008) – Gang related, multi- handed violent disorder.

R v C (Harrow Crown Court, 2008) – Successful defence of inter-marital rape and GBH.

R v Parkinson (Canterbury Crown Court, 2007) – Defendant acquitted of large-scale importation. Unusual combination of defences (duress and “cut-throat” of paramilitary co-defendant).

R v Imran (Reading Crown Court, 2007) – Leading junior for defendant acquitted of conspiracy to supply class ‘A’ drugs.

R v Griffin (Southwark Crown Court, 2007) – Defence of Private Investigator charged with corruption and misconduct in public office with two others. (National publicity & TV coverage).


Op Surging – Prosecution of an Organised Criminal Gang in relation to a 25 million pound money laundering enterprise. It is alleged that “shell” companies were formed by their Directors and the proceeds of crime laundered through their bank accounts by gang members. The resultant trials are being prosecuted throughout 2021 into 2022 at Southwark Crown Court.

Op Carlton (R v Andrew Jones) (Swansea Crown Court, September – October 2020) – Murder Prosecution in which it is alleged Defendant murdered his wife’s 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. The defendant convicted, awaiting sentence.

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Previous Prosecution Cases

R v Hughes & Cunnion (Hove Crown Court, May 2018) – Murder prosecution

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

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

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

Burke v R [2016] EWCA Crim 1954 – 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 the 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.

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‘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.

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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.

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

R v Squelch [2017] EWCA Crim 204 (Court of Appeal, February 2017) – The 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)

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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 reclaims fraud.

Junior Counsel

R v Jones (Chichester Crown Court, 2012) – Prosecution of a 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 a 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 the 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 investigative 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 the 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 – the 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.

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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. The 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 – An 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. An appeal based on alleged malpractice of South Wales Police in the 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 the same period (National Press and TV coverage).

Re Michael Melchert (Chelsea Coroner’s Court, 2012) – Acted for landlords of “ramshackle” premises in which the 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.