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Adam Wiseman QC

Adam Wiseman QC

Call: 1994     Silk: 2018

T: 0207 520 6000    E: chambers@18rlc.co.uk

Adam Wiseman specialises in Crime, Fraud, Inquests, Public Inquiries, Financial Regulation and International Human Rights.  He has a particular interest in international criminal law, war crimes and genocide.

Recognised by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 as one of the leading barristers in practice.

Adam is regularly instructed to act in an advisory capacity for individuals and institutions.  He is frequently assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals to appear in the Court of Appeal and appears pro bono in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council involving appeals against the death penalty.

‘First-class tactical analysis.’
Chambers & Partners 2020

‘A natural advocate who owns the courtroom and brings first-rate judgement to cases.’
Legal 500 2020 – Ranked: tier 1

‘Insightful and always prepared, he plots his way through complex cases and is respected by judges.’
Chambers & Partners 2021

‘Brave and forthright in his cross-examination, yet still sensitive to the client.’
Chambers & Partners 2021

Recent Notable Cases

  • Appointed by Lloyds Banking Group (‘LBG’) as Counsel to the Dobbs’ Review to consider whether issues relating to HBOS Reading were investigated and appropriately reported to authorities following LBG’s acquisition of HBOS.
  • Counsel to the Inquest touching the death of Ellie Butler.
  • Defended the Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan. The defendant imprisoned his acolytes for over 30 years and carried out a multiplicity of crimes including acts of violence, torture and rape.
  • Defended the serial killer Stephen Port who murdered a number of young men in Barking.
  • Defended in multiple assassination trials over the years.
  • Defended Daniel Doherty in the ‘body in the garden’ murder trial.
  • Defended Lee Brockhouse in the News International phone-hacking trial and has a wealth of experience in defending high-profile criminal cases.
Crime & Fraud
Sexual OffencesOffences of Serious Violence (including Homicide)Organised CrimeFraud & Proceeds of Crime (POCA)Road Traffic

Adam is frequently instructed to defend in cases involving allegations of serious sexual offending involving both adults and children. He has a wealth of experience in offences of rape, sexual assault, inciting children to engage in sexual activity, grooming, brothel-keeping, possession and distribution of indecent images, gross indecency and many other like offences.

Adam has conducted multiple ground rules hearings (GRHs), s.41 applications involving cross-examination on a complainant’s sexual history; bad character applications, video-link cross-examinations and successfully argued ‘abuse of process’ applications.

He is experienced at handling vulnerable witnesses and trains other advocates in how to perform such sensitive cross-examination successfully (Rook Working Group).

  • R v JC (2017) Privately instructed to represent a professional man accused of serious sexual offending with his own daughter.
  • R v AB (2016) Adam was lead Counsel for the defendant (a Maoist cult leader) who was accused of a campaign of rape, slavery, violence, torture, false imprisonment and child cruelty. The allegations spanned 30 years and covered 13 separate crime scenes; involved multiple complainants (including the defendant’s own daughter) and tens of thousands of pages of material. The case was said to be the most complicated case of its type ever to come before the UK Courts and attracted worldwide press interest with reporting in every continent on the globe.
  • R v LB (2015) Privately instructed to defend a defendant indicted with multiple counts of serious sexual abuse against his step-daughter; abuse that allegedly lasted for a decade when the complainant was aged between 5-15.
  • R v VH (2015) Privately instructed to represent a priest accused of serious sexual offending during his time in the clergy. The case involved multiple complainants.
  • R v AD (2015) The defendant was accused of an historical rape, the evidence of which emerged during the currency of a separate rape trial. This is an example of a case where the case was stopped after Adam successfully argued that to continue was an ‘abuse of process’.

Adam specialises in privately instructed cases involving allegations of violence and is exceptionally experienced (and successful) in defending these cases.

  • R v DD (2017) The defendant was alleged to have concealed the body of a murder victim in his garden. Initially arrested for conspiracy to murder; tried for concealment of the body and ultimately acquitted.
  • R v SP (2016) The defendant was alleged to be a serial killer. The prosecution case was that the defendant drugged and then killed four young men in Barking. The case received national publicity and was subsequently broadcast as a BBC television documentary.
  • R v AJ (2016) The defendant was a professional man of good character accused of racially aggravated violence and threats to rape. He was the head of global trading at a bank and any conviction would have cost him millions of pounds in lost stock-options and would have affected his FCA status. The defendant was acquitted of all charges after trial.
  • R v DW (2015) The defendant was the president of a well-known motorcycle club and was accused of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and s18 GBH in a case of gangland violence. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v MB (2015) The defendant was accused of conspiracy to murder. The victim was shot with a sawn-off shotgun, at point-blank range, in a planned assassination. Channel 4 made a documentary of the case. The defendant was acquitted after trial.

For the past 20 years or so, Adam has defended in a number of high profile cases involving drugs supply networks, gun running, people smuggling and other forms of organised crime.

  • R v SK (2017) International gun-smuggling plot involving multiple defendants and an executed plan to import guns (including machine guns) into the country and then distribute to criminal networks across the north of England.
  • R v VA (2015) The defendant was the head of an organised criminal network accused of importing cocaine into the UK in a highly sophisticated operation. The method of entry involving infiltrating, and then exploiting, secure aviation protocols. Value of drugs imported was estimated to be many millions of pounds.
  • R v AK (2015) The case involved the unlawful laundering of £380m of Chinese currency; money alleged to have derived from multiple forms of specified organised crime.
  • R v IT (2014) The defendant was a Hungarian national accused of multiple conspiracies to control prostitution and traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation. There were over 60 complainants. It was alleged that the defendant controlled the whole organised criminal network.
  • R v AK (2014) Represented the main defendant charged with multiple conspiracies to commit armed robberies, kidnaps, and hostage-taking (Operation Sewell).

Adam has extensive experience in defending all types of fraud and ancillary offences. From large-scale identity fraud; mortgage fraud; company fraud, bank fraud and market abuse through to fraud involving a single defendant and a single transaction, Adam is able to assimilate, marshal and distil the information into a workable and comprehensible format. Adam defended in the News International phone hacking case and is comfortable dealing with exceptionally voluminous cases.

  • R v GH (2016) International conspiracy to steal and launder money from bank accounts using counterfeit documents, multiple companies and bank employees.
  • R v KC (2015) The case involved a £20m fraud on the shareholders of a business and the subsequent attempts to conceal and/or burn the associated paperwork. Acquitted after trial.
  • R v AK (2015) The case involved the unlawful laundering of £380m of Chinese currency.
  • R v VA (2015) The prosecution under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for the defendant to have to pay over £1m. Adam successfully reduced this amount to < 1/10th.

Adam specialises in the privately instructed defence of all road traffic matters. Any case that involves a fatality requires an extra sensitivity and delicate case management for which Adam is consistently praised.

  • R v RH (2018) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v IT (2018) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v AS (2018) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v TA (2018) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v KF (2017) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v JW (2016) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was a professional man of good character accused of causing death by careless driving. Acquitted after trial.
  • R v PN (2016) Fatal road traffic collision. The defendant was acquitted after trial.
  • R v NK (2016) The defendant was involved in an accident that left the complainant with serious, life-altering injuries. Adam was instructed to conduct the appeal after the defendant had already been convicted. Adam successfully conducted the appeal and secured an acquitted on all charges.

Regulatory & Professional Discipline

Adam has a particular interest and expertise in the regulation of financial markets and is familiar with the changing regulatory landscape that obliges banks and organisations to adapt.

Adam has lectured on the implications of the Fair & Effective Markets Review (FEMR) and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFid and MiFid II).

Adam currently advises a listed market maker, hedge fund and capital management organisation on their regulatory duties and advises multiple corporates on their Data Protection responsibilities as a result of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Inquests & Inquiries

Adam was Counsel to the Inquest touching the death of Ellie May Butler.  Ellie was just 6 years old when she was murdered by her father. Both of Ellie’s parents were convicted of various criminal offences at the Central Criminal Court. The father was convicted of Ellie’s murder and of child cruelty; the mother of perverting the course of justice and child cruelty. The inquest was an Article 2 inquest and sought to establish how, and in what circumstances, Ellie came to die. The inquest was presided over by Dame Linda Dobbs DBE.

International Representation

Adam is well versed in dealing with cross-jurisdictional issues and litigation that spans multiple countries. He has drafted ‘Letters of Request’ and conducted multiple cases that have raised jurisdictional law. Adam has appeared in extradition cases (at first instance and on appeal) and successfully resisted extradition requests.

Adam is currently engaged in drafting submissions for the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Rohingya deportations.


  • Insightful and always prepared, he plots his way through complex cases and is respected by judges.” – Chambers & Partners 2021
  • Brave and forthright in his cross-examination, yet still sensitive to the client.” – Chambers & Partners 2021
  • First-class tactical analysis.” – Chambers & Partners 2020
  • His strengths include staying focused on the key issues in a case and witness handling. He’s a very good team player.” – Legal 500 2020 – Ranked: tier 1
  • A natural advocate who owns the courtroom and brings first-rate judgement to cases.” – Legal 500 2020 – Ranked: tier 1
  • He brings first-rate judgement and strategic planning to bear.” – Legal 500 2018 – Ranked: tier 1
  • A very gifted and hardworking barrister, whose preparation is comprehensive and tactical awareness is first class.” – Legal 500 2017
  • Defends in all types of high-profile and serious crime.” –  Legal 500 2014
  • Outstanding” – Legal 500 2013


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BSc (Hons) Chemistry: University of Exeter

MSc (Hons) Psychological Research Methods: University of Exeter

Postgraduate Diploma in Law (Commendation): University of Westminster


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Criminal Bar Association

Fraud Lawyers Association

South Eastern Circuit





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Public Access (Direct Access) qualified

Litigation qualified

Lead Facilitator to teach advocates in the handling of vulnerable witnesses (Rook Working Group).

Leading Silk in the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar directories (see Recommendations).