John McNamara

Year of Call: 2014

John specialises in defending individuals facing criminal allegations. He undertakes cases in crime, business crime, proceeds of crime matters and related civil proceedings.

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John is a barrister practising in criminal law and all related areas. He is building a strong Crown Court practice representing defendants charged with a variety of serious criminal matters including fraud, money laundering, violence and sexual offences. 

He is experienced in defending and prosecuting a range of proceedings arising from the Proceeds of Crime Act  2002 including restraint and confiscation, cash forfeiture, and account freezing and forfeiture hearings.

Instructing solicitors have observed that John goes the extra mile in cases involving young and vulnerable people. He places great importance on caring for the lay client throughout their case whether they are a business professional or a vulnerable person.

“We have been impressed by John’s preparation, client care and advocacy. It is clear he has a keen eye for detail. We have full confidence in his ability to do a fantastic job for our clients.”

Feedback from one of John's instructing solicitors 

John was instructed as disclosure counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry for 8 months. He was also instructed as disclosure counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

John holds Developed Vetting ("DV") Security Clearance. 

Direct Public Access

John accepts instructions under the direct access scheme. This allows members of the public to instruct John directly to advise them on or represent them in suitable cases.

Professional panel appointments

  • CPS Specialist Proceeds of Crime Panel - Level 2 (2020).
  • CPS Specialist Fraud Panel - Level 2 (2020).
  • CPS General Crime Panel  - Level 2 (2018).
  • Attorney General's Junior Juniors Panel (2017).

Additional information

Prior to joining chambers, John worked as a paralegal for two years at Hickman & Rose Solicitors. During that time John assisted Jenny Wiltshire in various cases concerning manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and historical sexual allegations.


  • BPP Law School, BPTC; Very Competent.
  • BPP Law School, GDL; Commendation.
  • University of Warwick, BA (Hons.) History; 2.1.


  • Ann Felicity Goddard Scholarship, Gray’s Inn (2017).

Professional Memberships

  • Criminal Bar Association (Executive Committee Member 2018; Assistant Secretary 2020).
  • Young Fraud Lawyers Association.
  • London Irish Lawyers Association.

Criminal Defence

John’s principle area of practice is defending individuals facing criminal allegations.

"He is articulate and quick on his feet during a trial."

Feedback from an instructing solicitor 

John has worked on cases with clients ranging from high net worth individuals to very vulnerable young people. John undertakes serious cases in the youth court. He has completed the vulnerable witness training course. 

“John's cross examination of the main prosecution witness was impressive.”

Feedback from John's instructing solicitors on a case of section 18 GBH with a Certificate for Counsel in the Youth Court

John is regularly instructed in the magistrates' court to defend criminal matters on a privately funded basis. He accepts instructions in driving matters and has successfully defended a number of individuals facing drink driving and related charges.

John considers communication with instructing solicitors as vitally important and aims to provide a professional service to his clients. Before joining the Bar John developed significant experience in litigating criminal cases as a paralegal. He enjoys engaging with instructing solicitors throughout a case to achieve the best result for the lay client. 

Asset Recovery, Civil Fraud & Confiscation

Account Freezing & Forfeiture Orders

John is regularly instructed in account freezing and forfeiture cases. He has been instructed by individual respondents and by HMRC. When instructed for respondents John uses his knowledge of law enforcement’s approach to investigating these orders to assist individuals and companies facing these orders. He has recently been instructed to:

  • Advise and represent a former European politician under investigation for bribery in relation to a freezing order in excess of €1.5 million.
  • Act for HMRC in a contested application to extend an account freezing order worth in excess of £500,000 while an investigation into an alleged fraud committed overseas continued.
  • Advise and represent a corporate accused of money laundering in an account freezing order in excess of £160,000.
  • Act for HMRC in a contested account freezing order relating to a suspected MTIC fraud.
Cash Detention & Forfeiture
John is experienced in advising on cash forfeiture cases from an early stage. John acts for both respondents and applicants. The National Crime Agency (NCA), HMRC and the Metropolitan Police regularly instruct John in cash forfeiture cases. Recently John was instructed by three different law enforcement agencies to conduct a series of 5 linked cases believed to be a money laundering ring. The total value of the cash seized exceeded £350,000.
John accepts instructions on behalf of individuals facing cash forfeiture proceedings.

“John provided a comprehensive case strategy...  he demonstrated excellent witness handling skills and advocacy to achieve an excellent outcome... I trust his judgement.”

Feedback from John's instructing solicitors in a cash forfeiture case


John accepts instructions in confiscation matters. He has defended in confiscation hearings in the Crown Court where he has achieved significantly reduced orders for his clients. He is instructed to defend in section 10A POCA and section 22 POCA applications. John accepts instructions in enforcement proceedings in the magistrates’ court. 

Restraint Orders and Civil Recovery
John has an interest in restraint order cases in the Crown Court and civil recovery cases in the High Court. He is often instructed by the CPS pre-enforcement POCA unit to advise and act when restraining funds and property.

Business Crime

John is instructed by HMRC in contested and ex parte applications for production orders, POCA disclosure orders and search warrants. He has been instructed by defence solicitors to review and analyse documents in cases concerning:

  • A FCA and DOJ investigation into a banker accused of circumventing internal controls and fraudulently allowing sovereign-backed loans (valued at $2 billion USD) to be taken out and sold to investors. 
  • A detailed LPP review for a corporate client responding to a production order in a case connected to an alleged fraud against a sovereign wealth fund.
  • An executive officer of a FTSE 100 company accused of being involved in accountancy fraud.

During his time as a paralegal John was part of the team who represented the first LIBOR trader to be exonerated by the FCA's Regulatory Decisions Committee. John also spent time as part of the team who defended a Barclays’ derivatives trader charged with conspiracy to manipulate LIBOR.

Criminal Prosecutions

John is instructed in serious and complex prosecutions for the CPS. John also prosecutes for local authorities where he draws on his knowledge from a 4 month secondment to a local authority legal team.

John has been instructed to advise on and act in private prosecutions brought by individuals. He is experienced in the private prosecution of trademark and copyright offences. In his role on the CBA executive John drafted a response to the consultation on the Code for Private Prosecutors and written evidence on private prosecutions to the Justice Select Committee.

Professional Discipline & Regulatory

John has an interest in developing a practice defending individuals before a range of regulators. 

John has been instructed by the Metropolitan Police to undertake a disclosure review of highly sensitive material, some pertaining to national security issues, for a police misconduct hearing. The case concerned the undercover operations of the Special Demonstration Squad SO12 and the alleged inappropriate sexual relationships between undercover officers and activists. The case has received significant press attention.

Cases of Note


R v LM [2020]

Junior alone. John successfully defended an 18 year old of good character where CCTV showed the defendant slashing at an undercover police officer with a zombie knife over a foot in length. John recognised the symptoms of PTSD in the defendant and obtained an expert report. Defendant acquitted of attempted s18 GBH, attempted wounding and being in possession of an offensive weapon.

R v B [2019]

Junior alone. Youth court case with a certificate. A spate of robberies on taxi drivers and school children. Vulnerable witnesses gave evidence at court. 11 offences charges. John successfully had 4 dismissed at half time. The defendant was convicted of 1 offence after trial. YRO with ISS imposed. CBO application withdrawn by CPS after John made submissions that it was unlawful.

R v AX [2018]

Junior alone. John secured an acquittal for his client charged with sexual assault. AX was of good character. The trial lasted 3 days and the jury acquitted John’s client after 45 minutes. Defence costs order granted.

R v X [2018]

Junior alone (certificate for counsel). John represented an 18 year old of good character in the youth court. X was accused of attempted s18 GBH and s20 GBH. The trial lasted for 4 days. Following John's written and oral submissions of no case to answer the attempted s18 GBH was dismissed at the close of the prosecution case. John's client was acquitted of s20 GBH.

R v AA [2018]

Junior alone. AA was first on the indictment charged with s18 GBH in a two handed cut throat. The second defendant blamed AA entirely. Prosecution witnesses recalled AA delivering numerous kicks and punches to the complaint. AA was also alleged to have held a weapon to the complainant’s face. The complainant suffered a brain haemorrhage, a skull fracture necessitating the removal of part of the skull and ongoing memory issues. Following careful cross-examination and jury speech AA was acquitted of s18 GBH with intent. Convicted of s20 GBH, as was the co-Defendant. Sentenced to 33 months, which is below the guideline starting point.

R v DF [2017]

Junior alone. DF was arrested on the street with a taser which was allegedly disguised as a torch, a machete and a stab proof vest. DF was charged with s5(1A) Firearms Act offence subject to the statutory minimum 5 year sentence. Following representations drafted by John the CPS amended the indictment, charging a s5(1)(b) Firearms Act offence instead. DF was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon. Following extensive mitigation DF received a suspended sentence.

R v GP [2017]

Led junior (led by Queen’s Counsel) in case concerning allegations of sexual assault and false imprisonment before the case was discontinued by the prosecution. Defence costs order granted. Continued to be instructed in claim for wasted costs against the CPS.

Driving Offences

R v F [2018]

John's client entered a guilty plea to being drunk while in charge of a motor vehicle. John persuaded the court not to impose penalty points; the lay client was concerned on the effect of penalty points on his work and work insurance. The court imposed a short disqualification and a small fine.

R v TL [2017]

John successfully defended a former soldier accused of failing to provide a specimen of breath when required to do so. TL suffered from PTSD as a result of his tour of Afghanistan. The prosecution disputed the defence medical evidence. Defence costs order granted.

R v N [2017]

John's client was acquitted of failing to provide a specimen of breath when required to do so. John cross-examined police officers at length and adduced expert evidence to show that N suffered with anxiety. Defence costs order granted.