Alex Benn

Call: 2021

    • Email
    • Direct phone

    Red Lion is well known to be a dynamic set with many barristers operating at the top end.

    Legal 500, 2022
    Alex Benn

    Personal profile

    Alex Benn appears on behalf of people accused of crimes. Alex has represented defendants tried by jury for charges of armed robberies, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to do so, serious sexual offences, witness intimidation and computer hacking.

    In cases that are legally significant or high-profile in nature, Alex has been counsel for:

    • the claimant in the first and only claim for judicial review to succeed in the law of bail appeals (R (Molina) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2024] EWHC 816 (Admin); [2024] WLR 183 (DC));

    • the defendant who accepted having thrown an egg at Charles III and who received a fine of £100; and

    • the academic acquitted of harassing a member of the clergy, a case that involved the Bishop of London and an application to the Attorney General for a nolle prosequi, led by Riel Karmy-Jones KC.

    Alongside appearing in court, Alex regularly advises (as sole or led counsel) defendants or other parties in relation to allegations of serious crime, including murder, terrorism and money laundering.

    Before starting to practise, Alex achieved the highest results in law at the University of Oxford. Now a lecturer at University College and St Catherine’s College, Oxford, Alex’s academic work concentrates on the law and the theory of discrimination, particularly the issue of classism. With this profile, Alex is often instructed in cases involving difficult points of law and where the criminal law meets other areas of the law.

    Alex usually uses ‘they/them’ pronouns and, when necessary, the gender-open title, ‘Mx’.

    Crime

    Selected Cases

    Current instructions include allegations of causing grievous bodily harm, adult and child sexual offences, witness intimidation, outraging the public decency, supply of drugs and violent disorder.

    R v A (2024) Cambridge Crown Court
    Appeared on behalf of a defendant charged with a set of armed street robberies. The defendant was alleged to have robbed people with a machete and stabbed one of them, while co-defendants had used other weapons. The case involved legal argument about identification evidence and a number of voir dires. The judge accepted a submission of no case to answer in respect of all charges and the defendant was acquitted.

    R v C (2023) Peterborough Crown Court
    Appeared on behalf of a defendant accused of both wounding another with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and aggravated burglary. The prosecution offered no evidence after the parties agreed a restraining order on acquittal.

    R v M (2023) Luton Crown Court
    Represented a defendant who had pleaded guilty to committing acts tending to pervert the course of justice. Over a period of five months, the defendant had made a number of claims to the police and employment tribunal, including accusing his colleagues of attempted murder by poisoning him. He had signed false statements and fabricated evidence to that effect. The court imposed a suspended sentence order, a rare outcome in cases of this kind.

    R v H (2023) Isleworth Crown Court
    Represented a defendant tried for armed robbery. The complainant alleged that the defendant had stabbed him with a serrated knife and then robbed him of hundreds of pounds in cash.

    R v S (2023) Cambridge Crown Court
    Defended in a case alleging armed intimidation of a witness in upcoming criminal proceedings. Legal argument included the exclusion of a lip-reader’s expert evidence and the elements of accessorial liability.

    R v C (2023) Southwark Crown Court
    Appeared on behalf of a defendant in a section 28 case (special measures by video-recorded questioning). The allegations included an assault on a young child, as well as coercive and controlling behaviour towards another.

    R v M (2023) Westminster Magistrates’ Court
    Defended in a widely publicised case, subject to the Chief Magistrate’s special jurisdiction. The defendant received a fine for having thrown an egg at Charles III. (BBC News.)

    R v A (2022) Wood Green Crown Court
    Led by Riel Karmy-Jones KC, represented a defendant in a case that raised issues of mental illness, abuse of process and an application to the Attorney General for a nolle prosequi. The prosecution offered no evidence.

    R v H (2022) Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court
    Defended in a case alleging violence and public disorder. The case involved an application for the case to be stated for an appeal to the High Court. The trial judge accepted having erred in law and expunged the wrongful conviction (and sentence) from the defendant’s record.

    R v H (2021) Central Criminal Court
    During pupillage, assisted Riel Karmy-Jones KC and Marcus Rickard, who appeared on behalf of the defendant in the widely publicised murder trial concerning the deaths of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman (BBC News.)

    Judicial Review

    Selected Cases

    R (Molina) v Snaresbrook Crown Court [2024] EWHC 816 (Admin); [2024] WLR 183 (DC)
    Acted for the claimant who sought judicial review, with permission, of determinations by the Resident Judge of Snaresbrook Crown Court. The case concerned the requirements for a prosecution to appeal a magistrates’ court’s decision to grant bail to a criminal defendant, as set out in the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993, and the lawfulness of a Crown Court judge’s decisions about bail. The Divisional Court (Davies LJ and Bennathan J) granted the claim on all grounds. (Judgment; Lawyer Monthly; New Law Journal.)

    Drugs Offences

    R v O (2023) Snaresbrook Crown Court
    Represented a defendant who had pleaded guilty to supplying approximately 7.6 kilogrammes of MDMA, with an estimated street value of £1,300,000.

    Sexual Offences

    R v Anon (2024) Luton Youth Court
    Defended a young person, having been granted a certificate of counsel due to the seriousness of the allegations and the sensitivity required. After a multi-day trial, the young person was acquitted of both assault by penetration and sexual assault.

    R v D (2023) Luton Crown Court
    Represented a defendant who had pleaded guilty to arranging a sexual offence involving a child. The case saw successful legal argument as to the correct linked offence for the purposes of sentence. (ITV News.)

    Contempt of Court

    R v K, M and H (2022) Oxford Crown Court
    Represented three people said to have been in contempt of court as reluctant witnesses in an attempted murder trial, for which the defendant had been sentenced to over twenty-eight years’ imprisonment. (ITV News; Oxford Mail.)

    Cyber Crime & Data Protection

    R v D (2022) Kingston Crown Court
    Appeared on behalf of a teacher accused of computer hacking and breach of data protection law. The prosecution offered no evidence after defence representations.

    Business Crime & Fraud

    R v T (2023) Southwark Crown Court
    Represented a defendant charged with fraud by false representation. The prosecution offered no evidence on receipt of an application to dismiss based on the absence of the intent to gain or cause loss.

    R v S (2022) Norwich Crown Court
    Defended in a case subject to the Chief Magistrate’s special jurisdiction, involving an employee accused of stealing from the police force. Having received representations, the prosecution offered no evidence.

    R v M (2022) Holborn Crown Court (Nightingale)
    Defended a person against allegations of money laundering, arising from blackmail by threats to distribute intimate photographs.

    Education

    • Law (Jurisprudence, BA), St Catherine’s College, Oxford: first-class honours
    • Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), University College, Oxford: distinction

    Awards

    • Wronker Prize (for best overall performance in law), University of Oxford
    • Gibbs Prize (for best combined performance in contract, land, tort and trusts law), University of Oxford
    • Slaughter and May Prize in Criminal Law, University of Oxford
    • Red Lion Chambers Prize in Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Oxford
    • Planethood Foundation Prize in International Criminal Law, University of Oxford
    • Law Faculty Prize in Comparative Equality Law, University of Oxford
    • Wronker Prize in Tort Law, University of Oxford
    • Wronker Prize in Jurisprudence, University of Oxford
    • David Blank Scholarship, St Catherine’s College, Oxford
    • Graduate Scholarship, University College, Oxford
    • Lord Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn

    Memberships

    • Criminal Bar Association
    • Lincoln’s Inn
    • Grade 2 Advocate Panel (Crown Prosecution Service)

    Publications

    Book Chapters and Journal Articles

    Journal Case Notes and Comments

    Academic and Legal Websites

    Newspapers and Other Press